Insight into College Admissions: Preparing for the Interview

Interviews are more important than ever in college admissions.  Learn insights into how to master the college interview process from FITree Learning.

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What Top Colleges Look For In Interviews

With test optional policies adopted by the Ivy League and a majority of colleges (Harvard will remain test optional through the Class of 2030), interviews are more important than ever to gain admission into top colleges.

Insight #1: Academic Interests and Intellectual Strengths

What this means: With record number of applicants – and many presenting similar academic and extracurricular profiles – admissions officers at top colleges rely on interviews to confirm the personal and intellectual qualities that may make some high-achieving students stand out among others.  

Sample points of deliberation among college admissions committee members: 

“What is your impression of the applicant’s general thinking?”
“Does s/he seem comfortable with complex ideas?”
“Can you envision him taking an active part in classroom discussions or in lively conversations over meals in the dining hall?”

Insight #2: Nonacademic interests

What this means: Interviews can lend important context for the applicant’s grades and test scores.  Top colleges use a holistic and whole-person manner to reviewing applications and value the interview for its deeper perspective on students’ interests and inspirations, beyond just raw academic data.

Sample points of deliberation among college admissions committee members: 

“Did he reveal any strongly held beliefs or attitudes that could be considered strengths in the context of a university community?”
“Did the applicant show signs that he can entertain different points of view and can offer opinions with grace?”
“Does s/he seem to be striking a healthy balance between extracurricular activity and school work?”

Insight #3: Character and Personal Qualities

What this means: Character and personal qualities are more important than ever in the college admission process, on the same level of importance as extracurricular activities. At top colleges like Harvard, Princeton and Yale, the interview report remains one of the few documents that provides a window into a spontaneous interaction with the applicant.

Sample points of deliberation among college admissions committee members: 

“What about the applicant’s demeanor stood out for you?”
“What character traits are you able to detect?”
“Do her personal traits set her apart in a positive way? In a less than positive way?”

The FITree Learning Difference

Building on its considerable experience in college admission counseling, the FITree Learning team has developed a proven approach to prepare applicants using the following 3-Step Methodology to mastering the college interview process:

Step 1: Understanding the categories and sub-categories of interview questions that all colleges use.

Step 2: Identify and apply each applicant’s unique academic and non-academic interests to each interview question category.

Step 3: In-depth and individualized feedback based on interview practices using real interview questions used by top colleges.

To find out more about how to prepare for the college application and interviewing process, contact FITree Learning for a complimentary 30-minute consultation.