The College Interview: 10 Essential Questions with Example Answers

College Interviews can be intimidating to potential undergraduate and postgraduate scholars. The fear of facing a panel that constitutes of strong academic members and uncertainty about the type of questions that will be asked is one of the challenges faced by these students 

Questions asked can be anything from why you want to study at the school, background, and career objectives. Nevertheless, which are the 10 essential questions asked during college? Read on to discover them as well as their example answers.

  1. Question 1: Why Are You Interested in Our School? (Why Us)
  2. Question 2: Tell Us About Yourself
  3. Question 3: What Can You Contribute to Our School?
  4. Question 4: What Do You Want to Do in Your Career?
  5. Question 5: What Do You Think You, Will Major, In?
  6. Question 6: What is Something You Enjoy Doing Outside of School?
  7. Question 7: Can You Describe a Challenge You Have Had to Overcome? 
  8. Question 8: What Is Your Top Choice School?
  9. Question 9: What Is Your Favorite Book / Movie / Television Show / Etc.
  10. Question 10: Do You Have Questions for Us?

Question 1: Why Are You Interested in Our School? (Why Us)

In most cases, the first question usually asked during a college interview is Why Are You Interested in Our School? Also known as the “why us” question, it is inevitable as the school would want to know your main aim and purpose of being part of its community. 

Answering this question the correct way might make the rest of the interview straightforward but how do you do that?

Firstly, you will need to explain to the board your relationship with the college. To know how to answer the question properly, you can start by answering the following questions:-

  • Have you convened with the faculty members of the school before?
  • Have you attended the school’s summer program before? 
  • Have you been part of a conference hosted by the school? 

These questions are related to the meeting point between you and the school. In short, this is where the relationship began in the first place. After answering this, you can go ahead and explain how the incidence(s) affected your view about the school.

We’ll be using different names and schools for all of our examples and you’re free to apply the format to any school. Nevertheless, here is how to effectively answer the “why us” question:-

“The reason why I am eager in studying at Adelphi University is because of a one-time conversation I had with the Dr. Wayne Brooks of the institution’s Robert B. Willumstad School of Business. During the discussion, I learned about the prospects of business scholars and the reality of education concerning their career objectives.

I discovered that this university has goals and objectives which coincidentally, suit my career targets. 

Question 2: Tell Us About Yourself

This is a common question that is asked during college interviews and interestingly, it also seems to be the easiest one to answer. Many of those facing the panel don’t usually know where to begin when being asked about themselves and it can come with a cost.

So, start by telling them about your accomplishments, certifications, individual awards, trophies, prizes, and the rest. Try not to get too emotional when answering the question but go straight to the point, and explain the relevance of your award concerning what makes you a good fit.

Let’s look at an example using an aspiring aeronautical engineer wishing to enroll for a bachelor’s degree in Aeronautical Engineering at Harvard University. You can use this model to answer the tricky question…

“My passion for aeronautical engineering began when I was 10 years of age. During that time, my parents lived in California and our home was a few miles away from its airport. I took advantage of the proximity to meet one Engr. Lucas who happened to grow fond of me as well as showed me some of the little fundamental knowledge I should know about the field. 

“Years later, my parents relocated to Michigan where I attended college. During my college days, I was involved in several occasional aeronautical programs where I happened to meet with some industry experts including Engr Johnson who is one of the pioneer aeronautical engineers in Michigan as well as a tutor at Harvard University.

“After the engineer told me all about the school’s aeronautical program, I was pleased to know that my dreams can come true via this school.”

Question 3: What Can You Contribute to Our School?

This question is mostly asked to know the part you’re going to play in the development and advancement of the school if admitted. Most scholars do fumble when being asked this question and it is quite obvious given that one needs to think selflessly before giving out an answer.

For sure, many students will tell the panel how their lives would be better and this is not the right thing to do. Here is what to answer:-

“During my high school days, many of my colleagues were having a hard time with chemistry, particularly organic chemistry. I understood the significance of having good grades in Organic Chemistry and how far a role it will play in landing me in my dream school en route to becoming a professional petrochemical engineer.  

“To help my colleagues, I created an association to make learning Organic Chemistry simple and fun and through this, many of my colleagues did get admitted that year. I would love to replicate such an idea here and help students having a hard time with the program.

Question 4: What Do You Want to Do in Your Career?

This question is straightforward: tell them what your career goals are. For a start, we all know that one can’t just aspire to be an engineer as that will be impossible. 

Breaking it further, if you want to become an electrical engineer, you should know that there are options to choose from and a typical example is electronics engineering. Even this so-called electronics engineering is further divided into several specialization areas including telecommunications and control engineering so you need to be specific.

Here is how you can answer this question effectively.

“After obtaining my B.eng in Control Engineering, I would aspire to become a technical director in an engineering firm where I would be in charge of automated control systems.

My goal will be to ensure that systems are designed with higher efficiency and minimal room for error. After gaining enough experience, I will set out and establish my firm where I’ll be designing networks that will help people connect better together and with high latency too.

Question 5: What Do You Think You, Will Major, In?

To answer this question effectively you need to start well. Don’t begin by telling them how much in love you’re with the program on your mind but make them understand the significance of the program to your career goals.

Here is a great way to answer the question:-

“Though I’m not sure yet of what I’ll like to major in, I think that my heart lies with web development. I’ve worked with several ICT centers in Alabama and my work has been to design websites – front-end and back-end.

“Even though I had a thing with data science in the past, beyond all doubts I don’t think that will deter me from choosing a program where my passion lies.

Question 6: What is Something You Enjoy Doing Outside of School?

Though there are lots of answers for this you should be cautious. Try not to tell them how you intend on making college football an extracurricular activity when you’re a potential dentist.

Instead, choose community service, enlightenment programs, and even charity events…

“I have always been interested in oral health since age 10 and the passion has not faded away. I’m always driven to do Street enlightenment on oral health and this is what I intend to do here. It’s something that gives me inner satisfaction.”

Question 7: Can You Describe a Challenge You Have Had to Overcome? 

This question is rare but it is essential to know how to tackle it if the need arises. Let’s take an example answer…

“When I was a fresher in fitness, I encountered difficulty in developing rock-solid abdominal abs. Despite being one of the best student-athletes during high school, I didn’t know how to overcome the challenge.

“Someone with a similar problem posted the question on Quora and Dr. Charlie a certified fitness trainer gave some useful tips. I utilized them and in the process, I discovered that abs training works better with HIIT. The solution took me close to 4 years and I’m happy I constantly asked for help.

Question 8: What Is Your Top Choice School?

This is probably the simplest of all questions. If being asked, know that the panel interviewers indirectly want you to praise their school. Don’t get us wrong, all you have to do is to tell them why you’ve chosen the school…

“Michigan State University is a school that I’ve always loved. The faculty, social life, and teaching quality are something I wouldn’t trade for anything in the world.”

Question 9: What Is Your Favorite Book / Movie / Television Show / Etc.

Though this is not related, at times it can be asked. When answering such a question, try and be technical – connect the dots in the line. Here is an example answer using a theologian case…

“My favorite movie is the Bollywood “PK”. I love the movie because it has exposed a lot of things about religion and has given a hint on humanity’s purpose. It has also changed my view about people, religion, and God.”

Question 10: Do You Have Questions for Us?

“Yes I do” should be your answer. Use the opportunity to get clarified on things and know more about the school. You can ask questions about curriculum, study-abroad programs, faculty-student ratio, career interests as well as opportunities.


The post deals with the 10 essential college interview questions and how to answer them effectively. Hope it helps.

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