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Duke University
Duke University
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Unweighted GPA: 3.7
SAT: 720 math
| 800 verbal


Low accuracy (4 of 18 factors)

How To Prepare For Your College Interview

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If you’re getting ready to take a standardized test, you probably know that you should study beforehand. Maybe you learn some common test strategies and time management techniques. You might take practice tests and make a study plan. There’s no doubt that preparing for a standardized test beforehand gives you a clear advantage.


Did you know that the same is true of the college interview? While you may not know the exact questions that you’ll be asked and you might not be able to purchase a college interview prep book at the local book store, there are still plenty of ways that you can ensure you’re as prepared as possible to ace your college interview.


In this post, we’ll outline a few key ways that you can prepare for your college interview. Beginning in the month leading up to it, we’ll offer some top tips that will set you up for a successful college interview experience. If you want to make sure that you go into your college interview poised for success, read on.

In The Month Before Your College Interview


It might seem like overkill to prepare for the college interview a month in advance, but there are a few things you can get started on pretty early. In fact, by starting your preparations well in advance, you make sure that you don’t fall prey to last minute, frenzied prep. You’ll also be more confident, and this will shine through during your interview itself.


You can begin by reviewing your transcript to make sure that familiar with what the interviewer may know about you in advance. While it’s not guaranteed that any interviewer will actually review your transcript in advance, it is possible, and you don’t want to be surprised if any questions arise in relation to it. Try to anticipate any transcript-related questions. Did you get a C during your sophomore year? Did you drop an elective? Did you change sections in algebra? Try to put yourself in the shoes of an interview to think about any questions they might have, should they review your transcript in advance.


Even if the interviewer does not review your transcript, think of your interview as a chance to explain any questions that could arise as it is reviewed by the admissions committee. This is your chance to address these questions head on so that no one is left wondering.


Also use some time during the month leading up to your interview brushing up your resume. Again, there is no guarantee that the interviewer will want a copy of it, but offering your resume is a good way to give the interviewer a brief written overview of your accomplishments. Think about which areas of the resume you’d like to verbally highlight in advance, but also be mentally prepared for the possibility that the interviewer will politely decline a copy of your resume, or accept it and never give it a second glance. Because you can’t be sure in advance, it’s always best to bring a polished resume just in case.


To learn more about bringing your resume to your college interview, don’t miss our post Should I Bring My Resume to My College Interview?


Finally, start to think about how you will answer some common interview questions. Rehearse your responses for these types of questions in advance in order to maximize the opportunities they afford. Some questions you might consider include:


Why are you interested in our school?


Tell us about yourself.


What are your strengths and weaknesses?


What books have you read lately?

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 In the Week Before Your College Interview


The week before your college interview, you should continue to rehearse for common interview questions while also starting to focus in on some of the more minute details.


For starters, now is the time to plan what you are going to wear. While it doesn’t need to be a five-piece suit, it should be something polished that indicates your respect for the interviewer. You can check out our post What to Wear to Your College Interview to learn more about appropriate interview clothes.


In the week before your interview, make sure you have something appropriate to wear. If not, try to go shopping or borrow something from a friend. Try on the outfit to make sure that it fits and use a mirror to make sure that there any stains or tears visible. Make sure that the outfit is clean, fits well, and is ready to go at least four days in advance in case you need to make some alternate plans.


A week before the interview is also the time to plan how you will get there. If you need to take public transportation, try to take a practice trip so that you know exactly where to go and have a good idea of how long it will take you to get there. If you’ll be getting a ride from a friend or family member, confirm with them in advance and make sure that you have good directions to where you need to go.


Finally, the week before your college interview is a great time for a practice interview. Ask your guidance counselor, a trusted mentor, or even a friend or family member if they’d be willing to do a practice interview with you.

On The Day Before Your College Interview


During the ninth hour, you’re going to focus on the necessities much in the same way that you would the day before your SAT or ACT. For starters, you need to practice good self-care to make sure that you aren’t tired, hungry, or mentally exhausted by the time you arrive.


Eat a filling, nutritious meal the night before and the morning of your interview. You want to make sure that your stomach isn’t rumbling, but you also want to make sure that it isn’t upset, especially if you’re prone to anxiety.  


The night before the interview, confirm your transportation to the interview. Check public transportation schedules for any delays or confirm with the person who will be driving you. Be sure to allow plenty of extra time so that you aren’t worried about being late.


Set out your clothes and your bag so that everything is ready to go. You’ll want to pack a folder with a few copies of your resume, a water bottle, and a notebook and writing utensil just in case. Making sure that everything is ready to go the night before means you’ll have less to worry about the morning of your interview.


Before you go to bed, set an alarm and a back up alarm. It’s also a good idea to make sure that someone in your house knows when you need to be awake, so that they can help you out should your alarm fail or you sleep through it.


Finally, it’s important to get a good night’s sleep. This might be difficult if you’re feeling nervous or worried, but practice some relaxation techniques like reading a book or taking a hot shower before bed. Allow plenty of time to fall asleep and rest assured that you’ve done everything possible to set yourself up for success.


If you’re anticipating college interviews and want some more help preparing for them, consider the benefits of the CollegeVine Near Peer Mentorship Program, which provides access to practical advice on topics from college admissions to career aspirations, all from successful college students.


For more information about preparing for your college interview, see these CollegeVine posts:


Kate Sundquist
Senior Blogger

Short Bio
Kate Koch-Sundquist is a graduate of Pomona College where she studied sociology, psychology, and writing before going on to receive an M.Ed. from Lesley University. After a few forays into living abroad and afloat (sometimes at the same time), she now makes her home north of Boston where she works as a content writer and, with her husband, raises two young sons who both inspire her and challenge her on a daily basis.