What are your chances of acceptance?

Your chance of acceptance
Duke University
Duke University
Your chancing factors
Unweighted GPA: 3.7
SAT: 720 math
| 800 verbal


Low accuracy (4 of 18 factors)

How To Prepare For Your College Interview

What’s Covered:


Preparing for an interview is a great way to make sure that you knock it out of the park when the time comes. While you may not know the exact questions that you’ll be asked, 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.


In The Month Before Your College Interview


Most students aren’t thinking about their interviews a month in advance – likely, you’ll still be working on your applications then. Focusing on applications, particularly supplemental essays, is actually exactly the kind of prep you should be doing this far ahead. There’s little formal preparation to be done, so thinking about what anecdotes you might want to share or qualities you might want to emphasize is great preliminary work for an interview that’s still a month away. Often, these things come up naturally as you work on your application, so expanding on them or looking for what might be left out should be fairly straightforward. 


Looking through practice questions and imagining responses may also help. Our post about common interview questions can help you think through common questions and feel prepared to answer when the time comes. 


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.


What to Wear


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 or family member. Try on the outfit to make sure that it fits and use a mirror to make sure that there aren’t 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.


Plan Transportation


Make sure that you know where and when your interview will be taking place. A week in advance is a great 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. 


Visiting once to make sure that you know where to go and how long it will take to get there is always a great idea. When making your plan, try to build in some extra time in case there’s traffic or unforeseen circumstances that delay you. Showing up on time or even early is a great first impression to make with an interviewer, and a week will give you plenty of time to ensure that this is the impression you make. 


Practice, Practice, Practice


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. 


If you don’t have someone to practice with you, you can still prepare on your own. Going over a list of common interview questions or reviewing the strong points of your application or resume are great ways to rehearse on your own. Talking to yourself out loud helps you get familiar with what you need to say and how best to say it, while writing it out can help you plan what to say and when to say it. If you prefer writing to speaking, remember that it’s important to practice actually saying the words so they come easily when it’s time for your interview. 


On The Day Before Your College Interview


The day before your interview, focus on setting yourself up for success in every way possible. More so than practicing, this means taking care of yourself and being sure of your plan. 


Self Care


At the eleventh hour, focus on the necessities much in the same way that you would the day before a big test. Practice good self-care to make sure that you aren’t tired, hungry, or mentally exhausted by the time you arrive. This might mean reaching out to friends and family for encouragement, doing a soothing activity to calm stress, or listening to pump up songs that make you feel confident and prepared. 


Eating a filling, nutritious meal the night before and the morning of your interview also helps set you up for success. 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.  


Check Your Plan


The night before the interview, confirm your transportation to the interview. Check public transportation schedules for any delays, confirm with the person who will be driving you, or plan ahead for traffic if you’re taking yourself. 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.


The next morning, before your interview, avoid stressing or obsessing over practice questions or potential answers. Last minute cramming is only helpful if it doesn’t make you anxious. Trust the prep you’ve done so far, and focus on showing up confidently and calmly in your interview. 


How to Calculate Your Odds of Acceptance After Your Interview


While many students get more stressed out about the interview than any other part of their application, as it’s their only opportunity to present their candidacy face-to-face, in reality the interview plays only a small role in the admissions process—remember, some applicants don’t even have the opportunity to interview, so it would be unfair for schools to give it too much weight.


If you’re wondering how the other aspects of your application stack up at your dream schools, though, check out CollegeVine’s free chancing engine, which takes into account just about every element of your application other than your interview, from your grades and course rigor to your extracurriculars. Since your interview is unlikely to swing your candidacy one way or another, the chancing engine can give you a great sense of where you stand as you wait for your offers of acceptance to start rolling in.


Short Bio
After graduating from Wesleyan University, Francesca Jette is pursuing a Master's in Clinical Mental Health Counseling at George Washington University. She has been helping high school seniors with college essays for three years now.