US University Interviews

Posted on 27th November 2023

US University Interviews

In November for Early applicants, and January/February for Regular Decision applicants, students applying to the US might start thinking about their interviews. Generally, US college interviews are far more informal than Oxbridge interviews, and take the form of a casual chat with a former student (alumni) of the college. But it’s still important to keep several things in mind, in order to succeed in your interview!

Will I be interviewed by a US college?

Currently, most interviews are taking place online, although others will be in person. For in-person interviews, these tend to only happen if a college has alumni near the student. This happens more frequently in large cities like London, but not so much in smaller towns. If you attend school near London, you may be asked to go into London for an interview if possible. 

Some colleges, including Georgetown and MIT, and most of the Ivy League, will aim to interview all applicants. It doesn't really depend on the type of candidate, unless that candidate is applying for a particular merit scholarship or something else unusual. At other colleges, such as Syracuse or Vassar, an interview may not be directly offered, but you can request one. In most cases we would recommend arranging an interview, even if you are not offered one directly, as this shows interest and initiative. 

When will I be interviewed?

If you are asked to attend an interview, it will normally happen sometime in the month after you apply. So if you apply in November, you will likely be interviewed in December or January. If you apply in January, you will likely be interviewed in February or March. 

You will probably receive an email from the interviewer directly, asking to arrange a time and place. Make sure you reply quickly and politely, and be as flexible as possible.

What will my college interview be like?

If a US college to which you applied does do applicant interviews, the interview will likely take place in an informal setting, like a cafe. Some universities may ask students to a virtual interview, especially for UK students who aren’t close to London. Also, if you are visiting the university at this time of year, you could email the admissions officers and offer to come along for an interview. That always looks good on an application!

The interview will be with a former student of that university, and will focus on finding out more about things like why you want to go to that college, what you can bring to campus, and what you are doing with your life outside of school: in general, what are you all about?

You should show interest in that college by way of pertinent questions, but otherwise relax and be honest. There won't be any technical or tricky questions – US college interviews are not like Oxbridge interviews at all. They are about getting a picture of what you are like as a person.

What happens after the interview?

The feedback from the interview will be provided to the admissions officers of that college, and may be used to inform their decision. If you showed a genuine interest in that uni, and came across as interesting and personable, that could make the difference between acceptance and rejection. However, the other aspects of the application (tests, transcripts, references, essays, etc) are much, much more important!

Tips for US College Interviews

  • Always reply to emails from the college or interviewer promptly.
  • When you set up an online interview, make sure you can have this somewhere quiet with a good Wi-Fi connection. Cameras should be fixed and at eye level.
  • For online interviews, make sure you agree on a time (make sure you clarify if it’s UK time or Eastern Time if you’re in a different time zone) and the online platform. Try to be flexible around your interviewer’s schedule if you can – they are likely to be a very busy person!
  • If you're in the US on holiday or visits, contact the colleges you've applied to and offer to pop in for an interview.
  • Turn up on time and dress smartly (but not overly smart). An example of appropriate dress is a collared shirt or blouse with a jacket or smart cardigan or sweater. (This includes online as well as in-person interviews!)
  • Research the college and be prepared to explain why you're a good fit.
  • Ask good questions.
  • Relax and enjoy it!

More common questions and great interview advice:

If you need any help or advice on interviews or US college applications in general, just book in a free call with a Founder who will be happy to advise:

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