USA Application Guide

Application Guide

8. Interview

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Will I be called for an interview?

It is quite common that universities invite American students for interviews, either on-campus or through alumni available locally around the country. Only a few universities will interview international applicants, however. If you are invited to an interview, it is neither necessarily a bad nor a good sign – it does not automatically mean you are more or less likely to be accepted at the university.


What is the purpose of the interviews?

Despite the comprehensive application forms, essays, tests and other submissions, universities often feel they are ‘missing a part of the picture’ for some candidates. In these situations an interview can complement the application well, and the face-to-face interaction can add to the story described in the paper-based application. Interviews to American universities are not intended to test or focus on your subject knowledge, but to get to know you as a person, learn about your motivations to study at university, and to hear about your future ambitions. The interviewers are almost alway alumni, ranging from someone who graduated a year or two ago to someone who graduated 50 years ago.


How does the interview work?

International candidates can be interviewed either by phone or in-person if there are alumni available locally. Interview invitations usually come directly from the interviewer to your e-mail, and the two of you will liaise to arrange a time that works.


How to succeed in the interview?

There are no right and wrong answers to this question. Given the non-standardised format (where different interviewers who may have very different expectations interview different candidates), it is hard to provide a template for success in university interviews. That said, some guideposts may include:

  • Prepare your ‘interview style’: while you can’t prepare for specific questions, you can make sure your communication style is ‘well-oiled’ ahead of the interview. Do some practice interviews with a teacher, a parent or a friend, to get comfortable answering personal questions and mentally adjust to the format.
  • Notwithstanding the comment above…some answers may be possible to predict. The usual ones, like “What attracts you to this university?”, “Where do you see yourself in 10 year?”, or “What have been some of your weaknesses through high school that you wish to improve on?” are probably worthwhile preparing some answers to.
  • Be yourself! Interviewers can quickly tell if you’re not, and that tends to be a real turn-off. In addition to this through…a few features you may want to emphasize, include showing a high level of enthusiasm/energy, a passion for any key topics you’ve covered in your application, and an openness and curiosity about what could be the next 4 years of your life…



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