A complete guide to help you crack every college admission interview

  • Somya Singh, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Jun 11, 2015 19:47 IST

Many of you are applying for admission to various colleges these days. Though the idea of joining a college is quite exciting, the process of getting admission is not that easy. Each college has its own elaborate and extensive screening process. Some colleges conduct entrance examination, some take interview and some hold examination as well as interview.

Though you must have taken and cleared many examinations by now, you might not have got many opportunities to face interview and so that will be the tricky part of the admission process for many of you.

While a written test (entrance test) evaluates your academic ability an interview tries to go beyond and judge your other attributes like personality, reaction to a particular situation and so on.

Here’s a complete guide to help you crack college interviews:

Understanding the process:

In today’s world of tough competition when too many students apply for a few coveted seats you need to present yourself in the interview in such a way that the interviewer sees more content in you than what your application form reflects. Sure, strong academic credentials are necessary, but they are no longer sufficient to earn admission into top institutions. In addition to excellent grades and test scores, students must be able to prove that they are a good ‘fit’ for their choice colleges.

“The purpose of an interview is to assess whether a candidate has the aptitude for the course he/she is opting for. During the interview, generally the college wishes to know about the suitability of the candidate for the opted course. It is judged whether his interest in the discipline is genuine or he is just following his peers or parent’s dictates. The main aim of an interview is to ensure that only interested candidates having orientation for the subject gets selected. The student’s knowledge at the time of interview might be average but one should have willingness, potential and readiness to work hard” says Vidyabhushan Arya, Journalism Professor at Symbiosis Institute of Media and Communication-UG.


1) Do some research about the college prior to the interview

Show that you've done your homework and research before the interview. Don’t waste the interviewer’s time by asking questions like what courses are offered, student-to-teacher ratios, extracurricular activities, clubs etc. Nearly all colleges have website with helpful questions that can answer preliminary questions you may have. “One should know about ‘Why am I joining this course?’ It helps in the interview if you know the basics of the course and some applied facts/current developments about the course.” Says Professor Vidyabhushan Arya

2) Review your application material

The interviewers may use your application materials to strike up a conversation with you. Review your application essays, certificates etc. so it’s fresh in your mind during your interview.

3) Practice some specific questions

There are a few basic questions you can probably count on hearing: Why do you want to go to this college? What do you expect to gain from college? Why did you opt for this course? What is your greatest strength and weakness? You can completely direct the course of the interview by answering smartly. For example, if you are asked about your favourite sport, it’s very likely that the interviewer will further ask you about some famous sportsman from the same game. Make sure you read up in advance. You don’t need to memorise your answers, but think through the issues ahead of time so you’ll have some ideas to discuss.

4) Dress appropriately

When it comes to your college interview, dress for success. Wear conservative formal wear, make sure your outfit is not very revealing. Don’t be overdressed or wear too much perfume either. If you’re still unsure about what’s appropriate to wear, contact the college’s admissions office to get more information.

During the Interview

1) Positive body language

It’s quite common to be nervous during the interview. Avoid shaking your legs constantly; biting your nails or playing with your hair, it may distract your interviewer away from your answers. Body language includes slouching too. You want to be comfortable, but not so comfortable that you relax in your chair.

2) Be yourself, but be your best self

As you share your strengths and accomplishments, remember to be honest. Don’t elaborate or lie about your strengths or list too many weaknesses. For example, if you've only taken a few French classes, don’t say you’re fluent! Your interviewer could actually be fluent and ask your next question in French.

Professor Arya says, ” You should always be honest about yourself. If you try to project an unreal image of yourself it will expose you during the series of questions. Clarity of thought is very essential.” Be confident, but not overconfident.

3) Use Intelligent language

It may sound obvious, but avoid using slang or swearing. Remember this isn't a texting conversation with your friend, so don’t say words like 'BF'”, 'YOLO' etc. You have to make a conscious effort because you might be habitual to using such words in everyday conversations and they might accidentally slip out. Also avoid adding tags to the end of sentences, like 'you know?' or 'right?'. Your conversation with the interviewer can be casual but make sure you’re sentences are properly framed. Instead of saying “I want to change the world” say “I really hope to make a positive difference in people’s lives with my actions” It sounds more intelligent.

4) Talk about your extracurricular activities

Think of it like this: The campus is a city, the interviewer is the mayor of the city. They’re picking each person that gets to live in the city. It would be a pretty boring place if each person was the same. Discuss your extracurricular involvements that set you apart from every other student, like sports, volunteering, theatre clubs, debate clubs, music etc. Don’t shy away from listing out your achievements.

5) Enjoy your interview

An interviewer wants you to do well in your interview, so remember to relax and enjoy the interview. Just keep these pointers in mind and you’re sure to ace every college interview you give. Head into the interview feeling confident and be prepared.

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