You’ve made it through three quarters of your college interview—fielded every question about your interests, made a case for your stellar academic standing, and tried as hard as possible to avoid the words “like” and “um.” And then, just as your interviewer is about to wrap up, he or she asks you the hardest question of all: “Do you have any questions for me?”

It’s no secret that interviewers love asking their interviewees this question. So, in order to prepare well for your college interview, you should almost certainly outline a few questions beforehand to respond with when the time comes.

Claiming that you have no questions for your interviewer can certainly look bad. After all, the most engaged applicants often come across as the most promising potential students. Despite this, there are a few types of questions that you should avoid asking. Read on:

  1. Things you should already know.

Though this may seem obvious, you will be surprised at how easily you will overlook macro-scale aspects of a school. If the answer to a question is crucial to your decision to apply to a school, it is an example of a “thing you should know.” These are the types of questions that you should have asked yourself (and answered) before deciding to apply to a school. For example, questions like, “Does the school offer my intended major?” and “Does the university require me to apply to a specific program or sub-school for my intended major?”

Since the college admissions process demands that you keep so many details, deadlines, and requirements in order, it can be easy to forget to do this type of basic research on a specific school. This serves as our reminder to you: Amidst all of the detail-oriented research you conduct about a college, don’t forget to take a step back and consider the broader picture as well.

  1. Things you could know.

Slightly different from the above category, the types of questions that ask about things you “could know” are different in their significance to your application. The answers to these questions may not make or break your decision to apply to a school, but they can still be answered by doing research on your own.

You’ll be surprised at how many questions you can answer by reading a college’s website and admissions literature. Virtually every college provides its applicants with detailed information about the school on its webpage, ranging from student testimonials, FAQs about student life, and information about how to apply. Not to mention, slightly deeper research will often reveal even richer information; you may find yourself on the website of a student-run organization or reading a sample syllabus from a class that has been previously offered.

On one hand, the depth and breadth of knowledge that is available to you online is astounding, exciting, and helpful. Many of your burning questions about a college can be answered from the comfort of your own home, and because of this, you’ll be able to quickly get a sense of whether a not it could be worth pursuing admission at a certain college.

On the other hand, it will be largely expected that you will have read through this information by the time you make it an interview for a school. Asking your interviewers a question that anyone (including you) could answer is not only a waste of time, but it maybe noted by your interviewers and count against you. Many schools weigh a student’s demonstrated interest as they make admissions decisions; in those scenarios, your failure to read the literature they generously provide you with and painstakingly update each year can make for a bad impression.

  1.     Things your interviewer won’t know.

You should be cognizant of the limits of your interviewer’s knowledge and experience when asking questions during your interview. Though it can be tempting to grill your interviewer about the admissions process or the status of your application, these are questions that they likely won’t be able or allowed to answer. To avoid coming off as pushy or nosy, it’s best to steer clear of these topics.

Finally, if you’re looking for some guidance as to what topics you should pursue, check out this guide to coming up with great questions for your interviewer.

Lily Calcagnini

Lily Calcagnini

Lily is a History and Literature concentrator at Harvard University who is doing her darnedest to write a thesis about all of her favorite things at once: fashion, contemporary culture, art journalism, and Europe. A passionate learner, she cares deeply about helping high school students navigate the process of college admissions, whether it be through private essay tutoring or sharing advice on the CollegeVine blog.
Lily Calcagnini