Former Admissions Officers Discuss the Importance of College Interviews

Padya Paramita

Former Admissions Officers Discuss the Importance of College Interviews

The college interview is an important part of the college application process at many US colleges and universities. Although it is rarely the deciding factor in whether you get admitted to or rejected from a specific school, the college admissions interview is a great opportunity for candidates to showcase themselves, share information that is not available elsewhere in their application, discuss their expectations about the school and the program, and talk about their future career plans and goals.  But how important exactly are college interviews to the admissions process? To help explain how colleges review notes from college interviews we asked Former Admissions Officers from Dartmouth, Duke, UChicago, Johns Hopkins, Georgetown, UNC, and more about what they looked for when reading interview reports.

They Can Sway Marginal Calls

College interviews are usually a very important part of the admissions process, and like teacher or counselor or other recommendations, they can sway the marginal calls on admissions. Regardless of who does the interview, alumni or staff, their job is to showcase your candidacy in the most honest and usually, positive manner.” - Former Admissions Officer, Top 25 National University

Showcase Your Knowledge of the School

“Admissions readers are always trying to get a better sense of how much a student knows about the college they are applying to so it is important for them to see specifics, so they refer to college interviews. Equally important is the information about personal attributes, interest in the college, future directions (academic and professional) and whatever else allows the admissions reader to know the student better.” - Former Associate Director of Admissions, Georgetown University

To Confirm What They Already Know

“The role of college interviews is mostly to confirm what they already see from the application. Oftentimes the interview corroborates the AOs review of the application itself.” - Former Admissions Officer, Top 5 National University

Strong Feelings

“Admissions officers reading reports of college interviews are usually for strong feelings, positive or negative. Again, most alum interview reports are positive and most are affirmations of what we see in the app. But interviewers who are surprised in a good or bad way by a student will stand out.” - Former Admissions Officer, Ivy League School 


“Engagement, curiosity, and enthusiasm are the biggest things that admissions officers are looking for. Other important factors are how clearly and eloquently the student speaks and how familiar they are with the school.” - Former Admissions Officer, Top 5 National University

An Opportunity to Highlight Strengths

College interviews can provide a unique opportunity for a student to highlight their areas of strength and downplay or explain any attributes that may not be as strong as the rest. While it is a chance to learn something about the history of the institution and then focus on giving the interview a real sense of who they are in person. It is always easier and stronger for a student to be themselves rather than contrive a persona that does not stand up to scrutiny!” - Former Admissions Officer, Top 25 National University

Hopefully, you now have a clearer idea about the purpose of college interviews. Check out the tag “FAO Advice” for more blogs in this series and to work with one of our amazing Former Admissions Officers, sign up for a consultation today.

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