In today’s episode of “College Admissions Real Talk”, Dr. Legatt talks common college interview questions and how to tackle them.
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VO: Welcome to College Admissions Real Talk with Dr. Aviva Legatt, a podcast for students seeking to get admitted to top-tier colleges. Each episode will feature an important tip for your college admission success, delivered with candor and love. If you’ve ever wanted to take a peek inside the mind of a college admissions officer, this is your chance. Have a question? Text Dr. Legatt at 610 -222- 5762 So, what’s your dream school?
AL: Welcome to College Admissions Real Talk. This is Dr. Aviva Legatt, founder and Elite Admissions Expert at Ivy Insight. Today, we’re going to be discussing common questions for college interviews. As discussed in my episode on interview pizzazz, being prepared is an important part of making the best possible impression. Here are some interview questions that if you prepare you will be more than ahead of most of your competition.
Question Number 1: “tell me about yourself”. Yes, this is a very open-ended question, but it is really important to craft the right answer to this. The right answer to this question includes information about you, your goals for studying in college in general, and why you’re here today to discuss the college that the alumni is representing.
Number 2: How did you get interested in the major that you replied to? In this instance, you want to provide the interviewer with a story, and a clear history about what led you to select this major. You can think of experiences you had in your childhood, you can think of classes you took, or extracurricular activities that you had; come up with a couple of short stories to share with the interviewer that are relevant to your goals for study.
Number 3: “What are your goals for this college?” In this answer, you should be prepared to talk about programs, professors, classes as well as clubs that you’re planning to join. You can talk a little bit about anyone you might know from that college. For example, if you know a student or if you know an alum or professor, you can discuss any connections that you have to that college. All of these factors will help you two seem very prepared and very knowledgeable about the colleges, as well as connected to the college, just as this alum is connected to the college.
Number 4: “What has been your favorite class in high school”? How about your least favorite? Whatever class you’re choosing, it’s really important to say why it is your favorite class. Don’t give some canned answer like “the class is easy for me” or “I really like the teacher”. Those answers do not give the interviewer any indication of who you are or why this class is truly of interest to you. Make sure that you think of a story from one of these classes that demonstrates why you like it so much. As far as your least favorite class, don’t be too negative. For example, maybe you struggled in a class. Many people do. Instead of focusing on how difficult that class was, focus instead on how you overcame that struggle and what it taught you about how to approach other classes.
Number 5: “Why did you apply to this college”? So, this is a great opportunity to demonstrate any research that you’ve done about the college. If you’ve had a chance to visit, you can talk about a visit that you had, or, if you have a history with the place where the college is located, you can talk about that history. You also want to highlight why the college is a perfect fit for you, and that fit can include academic dimensions, extracurricular dimensions, and professional dimensions. So there is lots of data you can use; really important to get super specific and targeted with the answer that you provide.
Number 6: “What are your career goals”? When you’re talking about your career goals, you have to make sure that you focus this answer in the right way. You don’t want to answer this in a way that sounds like “I’m only after the best job and I know that this school will give me the best job”. You also don’t want to talk about climbing any kind of social or class ladders. While education certainly provides a pathway towards your future success, there are no guarantees in life. And you do not want to come to the interview talking about all the money you’re planning to make after college. You want to give a broad career goallike “I want to use my education at your college to learn more about socio-economic inequality and how to improve it.” “Through my studies in business, I hope to learn from my professors and peers about the best ways to use business for social good”. So remember this is about those big goals; the big vision you have for yourself. It’s not about that job you want to get at Goldman Sachs.
Number 7: “What do you do for fun”? So, here you can give a sense of who you are as a person. I say what I just said with one important caveat: you want to make sure to highlight hobbies that reveal your best qualities. Instead of highlighting hobbies that we do to waste time, for example playing video games or going on YouTube, we instead want to think about hobbies that express our creative or fun side. So, don’t talk about playing video games or browsing Instagram unless you are a game YouTube star or have a viral TikTok account. Some adults might think that these activities are a waste of time, or at the very least that they’re boring and unoriginal, and that you’re wasting time not expressing yourself creatively or personally. Some cool examples of hobbies are knitting, playing bocce ball, collecting seashells, bird-watching; really the possibilities are limitless. But make sure that they are hobbies where you are expressing yourself and your personality in some way. Remember we all have some cool or fascinating hobby and you should definitely share yours with the interviewer.
Number 8: “What’s an example of an obstacle or mistake that you learned from”? This question provides you with a great opportunity to discuss an experience that was transformative to you in some way that helped you to learn and to grow. So for example, maybe you tried to form a social impact club in high school but you met with administration and you talked with students and you weren’t able to ultimately make the club happen because there was not enough funding in that year. What you might have learned from that experience is that you have to pool different kinds of resources and think about gathering resources in a non-traditional way. So perhaps you talk about the ways in which you assembled resources and started this club, ultimately, whether that club was in or out of school and you also want to give an update on where you are with this effort today. So maybe this club didn’t work out and you pivoted or maybe this club did work out but it worked out differently than you thought.
Number 9: “Do you have any questions for me”? This is a really important question and a lot of people stumble on this one because they get caught off guard and they didn’t prepare any questions, but that’s not going to happen to you. What you are going to do is prepare some questions and the questions by nature will be advice like questions. So for example, you can ask the interviewer about advice they have for someone applying to college today. You could ask the interviewer about their favorite memories at that college, and you can explore how that college help the interviewer prepare for their career. All of these questions will get the alum talking, smiling; reminiscing about their golden years at their alma mater. So these are all great questions to come prepare with. Make sure you don’t ask a question like “what is the acceptance rate here” And “what are the biggest clubs at the college”? First of all, they probably don’t know those numbers off the top of their head and second of all, they’re not the right people to be asking those questions to. You could probably Google that information pretty easily or ask somebody who’s at the college now. By the way, I say a little bit more about this in my episode about “Why You Should Google Your Interviewer Before The Interview”. So check that out if you want more info on that.
In closing, if you prepare two to three bullet points for each answer to these questions, you’ll be in great shape for the interview. Make sure to practice your answers so that they’re not too long over two minutes or too short, like one sentence. Until next time, I’m Dr. Aviva Legatt.
VO: College Admissions Real Talk is hosted by Aviva Legatt, edited by Stephanie Carlin, and produced by Incontrera Consulting. I’m Caroline Stokes and this has been your daily boost of college admissions insight. Have a question? Text Dr. Legatt at 610-222- 5762. For more information on Dr. Legatt and Ivy Insight visit www.ivyinsight.com And you can pick up Dr. Legatt’s book, “Get Real and Get In”, at major retail outlets across the world. Insight out.