While the trend at colleges and universities is moving away from the once all-important personal interview toward a more relaxed, general information meeting, some colleges still require an interview, some recommend it (which is an offer students should not refuse), and still others leave it up to the applicant. Although generally not as important as other parts of the application process, a good interview can be helpful when admission decisions are made.
Students should write or call the admissions office of the colleges in which they are interested two or three weeks in advance to make arrangements for a personal interview, if possible, and a tour of campus facilities. Some colleges, usually large universities, will grant only group interviews. At a few colleges, typically the most competitive schools, students need to schedule an interview several months in advance. Some Ivy League schools will not be able to grant a personal interview; they rely on alumni interviews, which are arranged after an application is on file.
Arrive promptly, dressed in a manner that you feel represents your best foot forward.
Conduct yourself in a friendly, inquisitive, and interested manner. Phonies are easy to spot, but the person with no enthusiasm or questions can be equally as unimpressive.
While it is not necessary, feel free to bring your parents. They probably won't sit in on the interview but they, too, may have questions and concerns which may be answered on campus.
Avoid being overly impressed by a "super salesman" in the admissions office. On the other hand, don't be "turned off" by an unimpressive admissions officer. Try to gain information and don't be influenced unduly by a personality.
Be sure to prepare in advance a list of questions to ask about the school. Bring a written list, if necessary, to be sure you don't forget your questions due to nervousness or excitement in the interview.
Avoid asking questions that can be readily answered by reading the catalog. This approach enables you to make the most effective use of your limited interview time and may show knowledge of the catalog and a thoroughness of planning on your part.
Bring with you a copy of your transcript (available through the Guidance).
Make note of the name and address of your interviewer and write a thank you note after the interview.
Take advantage of the campus tour often provided by the admissions office. The library, student union, freshman housing, music, drama, and athletic facilities are areas to consider in addition to the academic classes and labs.
Talk to students in the dorms, in the student union, at the bookstore, or wherever they congregate. A graduate of your own high school can be very helpful in describing his/her experience.
Sit in on classes if you are given the opportunity.
Some colleges do not give personal interviews to students, but do offer the option of an alumni interview. Colleges are increasingly utilizing alumni in the college admissions process. In some cases on-campus interviews are not granted, but once an application is filed, the student may arrange for an alumni interview or the college may arrange for such an interview. Many Ivy League schools utilize this system. In other cases, on-campus interviews are encouraged, but a student may be unable to arrange a visit. In such cases, the alumni interview may be requested, and is a good alternative. These interviews are arranged through the admissions office and are often conducted at the alumni representative's home or office.