Preparing for an On-Campus Interview in 8 Steps

Unlike an alumni interview which is conducted by a volunteer alumna in your area, an on-campus interview is usually administered by college admissions officers or department heads at the campus of the school you are applying to.

As such, it can be more nerve-racking than an interview done locally by an alumni member.

Just got an email from your dream school saying that you are scheduled for an on-campus interview? Focus your adrenaline rush on reading this article instead of panicking and thinking of worst-case scenarios.

In this post, we will talk about some tips for preparing for an on-campus interview.

1. Take a Mock Interview — And Take It Seriously, Too

Practice not only makes perfect but can also help allay some of your fears about the college interview and doubts about yourself. And that is why you should grab a family member or a friend and have a simulation of the upcoming event.

You may also meet with your high school counselor or teacher to have a mock interview to have an idea of how you perform under pressure and determine whether or not you are using the right body language.

It will also help a lot to watch YouTube videos on how successful college students went about their admissions interviews.

2. Research the College and Major

It’s true that college admissions officers want to know if you are indeed the person your application paints you to be. But they also want to know how much you know about the institution as well as your intended major.

Needless to say, you should brush up on your knowledge about the school — you may revisit the notes you did and the websites you visited while building your college list at the start of the college application season.

Remember to read as much as you can about the major of your liking.

Thoroughly check course information and structure — write down some of the most important points, too. Especially if the program is a competitive or highly concentrated one, you would want to head to your on-campus interview with insufficient info.

And while you’re at it, don’t forget to reread your supplemental essays and list of extracurriculars as well!

3. Anticipate Common Questions

College admissions officers or department heads will surely ask you a lot of questions. Luckily, you can rest assured that the questions will only be about yourself, the institution and your intended major.

Why do you want to attend this school? Why are you interested in this major? What is it about yourself that we need to know? How do you spend your time outside of school? What project or extracurricular in high school do you like the most?

These are the questions typically asked during a college interview, on campus and online alike.

4. Prepare 3-4 Questions for Interviewer

Questions need not be asked by the interviewers only — the interviewee is in fact encouraged to ask questions, too! And that’s why you should also bring with you some pertinent questions, particularly about the college and program of your choosing.

5. Arrange for Your Travel and Accommodation

Of course, you will have to fly, take the bus or train or drive a car to get to the campus and have your interview.

Ensure that you arrange for your travel ahead of time, especially if you will have to get your hands on a ticket. Don’t forget to see to it that there will be a place in the area in which you can spend the night/s.

Not really invited for an on-campus interview but want one?

Here’s a wonderful idea: prior to taking a campus tour, contact the college and see if you could get an interview on the day of your visit to have the opportunity to demonstrate your interest as well as ask some questions about the school or major.

6. Prepare the Necessary Materials

Most of the time, an on-campus interview requires the interviewer to bring supplementary materials.

It can be something as simple as an updated resume or an additional letter from a particular recommender. At times, the student may be instructed to bring some video clips, such as if he or she is applying to a performing arts program.

It can also be a portfolio that showcases the college applicant’s body of work, such as when applying for programs like graphic design, interior design or fashion design.

Don’t feel too shy to contact the college’s admissions office if you need some clarifications on things to bring.

What Should You Bring

Colleges that invite applicants to an on-campus interview usually provide a list of things to bring. Typically, interviewers are instructed to bring a resume, portfolio of work, additional recommendations, headshots, etc.

What you will have to bring to an on-campus interview will depend on the requirements of the institution or the department to which you are applying.

7. Dress for the Part

College admissions officers want to see you in person because they want to have a front-row seat experience of your character and personality. And that is why you should refrain from playing dress up and pretending to be someone you’re not.

It doesn’t mean, however, that you can wear just about anything you like to the college interview.

An on-campus interview, in most instances, can make or break your admissions, which is why you should make a positive impact on many different levels, including the way you dress.

When gearing up for your college interview, pack business casual attire, something that looks like traditional business wear but has a more relaxed vibe and takes into account your comfort and unique personality.

8. Carefully Check the Email Sent by the College

Double-check or triple-check — or more! — the email inviting you to an on-campus interview.

See to it that you got each and every detail right, from the date and time of the college interview to the names and positions of the individuals who will be conducting the interview.

Ensure, too, that you got the exact location right — go online and flex your research skills in determining where on campus the building is situated and where in the building the interview room is located.

Of course, it’s a must to check the documents or materials you are instructed to bring to the on-campus interview.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of the College Reality Check.

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