It’s basically a certainty that at the end of your college interview, your interviewer will turn the tables on you. That is, after grilling you for at least half an hour on everything from your extracurricular interests to your deepest motivations, they’ll ask you if you have any questions for them.

This moment is actually more crucial than it may seem. Though it is definitely a fantastic opportunity for you to seek answers to your questions about a school, this part of the interview does not only serve you; it is designed to tell your interviewer about the type of person you are—similar to the other questions they’ve been asking you.

With that in mind, you should think carefully about the questions you’ll ask well before you sit down to your interview. For information about the types of questions you should avoid, see here. To help you plan further, we’ve come up with 4 awesome types of questions to ask at the end of your interview, that will both give you valuable information about a school and prove that you’re an inquisitive, curious, and dedicated applicant.


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  1. Questions that demonstrate your specific interests

Before going to your interview, you should take the time to research the unique opportunities that a school can offer you based on your interests. If you want to study English, for example, glance at the roster of professors in the English department or list of offered courses. By conducting research like this, you’ll come across any quirks of the department as it operates at a specific school, and you’ll learn about any particularly stellar offerings or opportunities if they exist. Any questions that arise out of this research could make for spectacular questions for your interviewer. Not only will they help you get a better sense of how the school might be able to meet your needs, but it will also demonstrate your interest in a school.

  1. Questions that can only be answered by someone who has attended the school.

A large part of the adcom’s job is to put together a class of students that is diverse and balanced, made up of students that represent a broad range of backgrounds and interests who can complement each other and collectively enrich everyone’s learning experience. Thus, adcoms are on the lookout for candidates who care about the communities of which they are a part.

Gauging a school’s culture or vibe can be difficult, since the only people who can describe it truthfully are those who have lived in it. Luckily, almost all interviewers are alumni, and thus can speak to the vibe of the school as they experienced it. If you’re interested in a particular aspect of the student experience at a school, you should be sure to ask about it.

One word of warning, though: avoid questions that are vague. While it is a great use of time to ask a pointed question—for example, “Did you find that social life centered itself around dorm communities or extracurricular clubs?”—a vague or unspecific question will come across as generic, unthoughtful, or confusing.  Often, these are questions like, “Will I be stressed out by the workload?” and “How is the food in the dining hall?,” which require qualitative, personal opinions as answers. As well, if you find yourself tempted to ask sprawling questions like “What do students do for fun on campus?,” you should probably think of something more specific to ask.

  1. Questions about your worries or fears

Students are commonly hesitant to ask questions that betray any of their doubts or misgivings about a school for fear of seeming like they aren’t enthusiastic. Oftentimes, this is a mistake. Being honest is always the best way to go, and if you phrase it right, any question that is borne of genuine concern will be welcomed.

If you fear that a school is far away from home, you can ask a question like, “What kind of support groups are there on campus?” If you’ve heard that professors don’t spend time getting to know their students, ask your interviewer what their experience was like when they pursued relationships with their instructors. These types of questions will not make you seem less enthusiastic about a school. Instead, it will be clear that you care deeply about the college community you’ll enter—something every adcom wants to see in its candidates.

It will speak well of your commitment to a school that you’ve taken the time to consider its potential flaws and are interested in solving those problems in order to make it work for you. As long as you maintain an overall optimism and demonstrate your genuine, wholehearted enthusiasm for a school, it can’t hurt to ask the questions that truly plague your mind. Not to mention, the response you receive may assuage your previous fears!

  1. Questions that your interviewer is particularly well-suited to answer

Often, you’ll be provided with information about your interviewer(s) in advance of your interview. If you’re given a simple bio or overview of your interviewer’s career work, you should take the time to read it carefully and consider what commonalities you share with them. In the off chance that they pursued the major that you hope to study or participated in an activity that you are considering joining, you should be sure to ask them about those experiences. Imagine how silly it would be to pass up the opportunity to hear from someone who has done exactly what you hope to do!

Don’t worry if you aren’t provided with information about your interviewer(s) beforehand; you’re not at a disadvantage at all. Most likely, your interviewer will introduce themselves at the beginning of your time together; if they don’t, you can always ask them how they spent their time at college during your interview.

Regardless, these types of questions aren’t necessary to an impressive or informative interview. If you don’t have much in common with your interviewer, that’s completely fine. You should feel free to ask your interviewer about anything. In the majority of cases, your interviewer is an alum of the school that you wish to attend, and as such, most of their insights can be useful to you even if they are not familiar with the specific program you’re interested in joining.

Bearing in mind that asking these types of questions is a great strategy to use in your college interview, in the end, the best advice we can give you is to avoid over-thinking this. Go into your interview calmly and with confidence, and ask questions whose answers you truly want to know. Ultimately, though the college admissions process is competitive, it is just as much about finding a school that works for you.

 

 

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