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Top 8 Most Common College Interview Questions and Answers

Updated on June 28, 2014
If the thought of facing a panel of interviewers makes your palms sweaty or an uneasy feeling in your stomach, you are not alone.
If the thought of facing a panel of interviewers makes your palms sweaty or an uneasy feeling in your stomach, you are not alone. | Source

The good news is, if you are invited to a college admission interview or a scholarship interview, you are considered the strongest candidates for the award.

Congratulations, you are now one step away from achieving a scholarship or getting admitted into the college of your dreams.

The bad news is, you will undergo the nerve-wracking ordeal of communicating with a panel of interviewers. If this idea alone makes your palms sweaty or an uneasy feeling in your stomach, you are not alone.

To ace the admission or scholarship interview, you must consider the intentions of the possible interview questions to provide the ideal response.

This guide will provide you the 8 most common and important interview questions that you must master.

"Tell me about yourself" can be the trickiest question you have ever faced.
"Tell me about yourself" can be the trickiest question you have ever faced. | Source

1. Tell me about yourself.

Objective: To assess your communication and presentation skills.

Believe it or not, this could be the trickiest question you have ever faced.

After all, it seems like an icebreaker question for the interviewers to know more about you.

However, majority of the interviewees would rattle on things like “I graduated from xxx high school...”, “I live in xxx. I have two siblings and a pet. I name my pet as...”

These answers probably would not work.

The truth is, the admission officers already know a great deal about the interviewees (where they have graduated from and their extra-curricular activities) through their resume and referral letter.

This question presents a great chance for you to discuss in-depth about your involvement in an achievement that you are proud of (preferably not discussed in your resume). You will need to illustrate with specific examples, the challenge you faced, the actions you executed to overcome the challenge, the outcome and the experience you took away.

Anyone can have the designation of a project chairperson, but it is the professionalism you displayed and the learning experience you took away that is the most impressive to the interviewer.

Chocolates can even be used to impress your interviewers!
Chocolates can even be used to impress your interviewers! | Source

2. What are your weaknesses?

Objective: To assess your self-awareness and analytical abilities.

In an interview, you would definitely want to present your desirable qualities, so how do you respond if you are asked to elaborate on your weaknesses?

There are articles which probably tell you to disguise your weaknesses as your strengths.

· I am a perfectionist and I will not submit my work unless it is perfect.

· I am a highly passionate in my work and sometimes my colleagues perceive me as over demanding.

In reality, after listening to such answers, the interviewer would either laugh in your face or ask you if you think that they are morons. This tactic of disguising your strength as a weakness will simply lead to a patronizing answer. In addition, the interviewer would have heard the same answer many, many times. So please, avoid such an answer.

Personally, I would always smile to the interviewer and say, “Chocolates.” Most interviewers would be amused and it helps me develop a rapport with the interviewers.

Following that, I would delineate a genuine weakness that I had in the past, how I have taken steps to overcome the weakness and finally the experience you have learnt from overcoming your weakness.

There is nothing shameful with having a flaw, but it is highly impressive to have self-awareness and take measures to overcome the weakness. The interviewers want to know that you have the determination to overcome challenges to be a successful college student.


3. What are your strengths?

Objective: To assess your presentation skills and whether your strengths align with the college's values.

I always feel uncomfortable expressing my own strengths. If you suffer the same syndrome as me, you have to get past the hesitation to articulate on your strengths. Fortunately, by preparing your answers in advance, you can articulate comfortably and earnestly during the actual interview.

Some interviewees choose strengths that are either not what the interviewers are looking out for or strengths that anybody could claim. These mistakes will make the candidate seem unimpressive and forgettable.

The most important interview tip for this question is to research on the values and qualities that the college is looking out for and have a really good story to articulate on how you use that strength – at school or in your community.

An excellent response encapsulates the relevant strengths, specific examples of how the candidate utilizes his or her strengths to resolve a challenge and the outcome of the situation.

4. Why are you interested in our college?

Objective: To assess whether you understand the distinctive features of the college well.

The best response shows that you know the distinctive features of the college well. Do not state that you want to go to the college because the college provides a good education. Be specific.

Mention that you are attracted to the college's interactive multi-disciplinary educational pedagogy, its excellent global learning opportunities or its strong diversity in the college community. In addition, describe how you are going to fully utilize the opportunities and resources provided by the college.

Colleges are particularly drawn to students who are interested in the college –- not just for the prestige of the college or due to peer pressure, but for the interactive educational pedagogy with a small class size or excellent global learning opportunities whereby majority of the students can immerse in another culture and environment.

This would show that you took the initiative to research about the unique features of the college and you are highly excited to enroll into the college.

5. What do you want to major in?

Objective: To understand your academic interests.

Many college applicants are undecided on what major they will choose and the majority have changed their majors before they graduate.

The interviewer wants to avoid such a scenario and is less likely to accept candidates who are lack academic interests.

To answer this question, you will need to explain why you are interested in a particular field. Are there any experiences in your high school that piqued your interest? Is there a particular course, topic or teacher that inspired you to major in the subject?

Remember, always avoid stating that you chose the major for its prestige, earning potential or worse, you simply chose the major due to peer pressure.

Life is too short to pass up an opportunity to study in a field you love. There are many people working in the well-paying field who did not feel that their lives are meaningful.

6. What will you contribute to the campus community?

Objective: To assess how you can enrich the campus community.

It is tempting to answer this question by commenting on your qualities: "I am a responsible leader…" or "I am creative and adaptable...”

Unfortunately, these answers do not actually answer the question. They do not explain how your presence will make the college a better place.

Instead, think about how you have contributed to your school in the past and specifically how you will contribute better when you are a college student.

Did you engage in any community service work? Or did you participate in maths and science competitions in the past? Organized fundraisers, camps or interest groups before?

You can perhaps mention how you will kickstart a campaign to ignite the passion of community service in the college community or introduce a new sport or activity and form an interest group.

Just be as specific as possible, pick one or two examples of what you have done in the past and specific examples of things you will do at the university. It will show you that you have researched about the college and know that they really are the college for you.

Hobbies like trekking can reflect an outgoing personality!
Hobbies like trekking can reflect an outgoing personality! | Source

7. What do you do in your free time?

Objective: To get to know more about your personal life and how well rounded you are.

Fear not, the interviewer is simply curious about your interests.

The interviewer understands that college is not just about hitting the books and there is an important social aspect to the college life. The interviewer wants to know whether you have unique interests that can enhance the diversity of the college community.

The ideal response will focus on how your hobbies or activities make you a well-rounded person. Do you love trekking in the mountains? Did you engage in any community service work? Experimenting in the kitchen? Programming or designing webpages? Painting sceneries and sunsets? Canoeing?

Most answers would be accepted and always remember to present your answers in a sincere tone.

In your everyday life, does David Beckham really influence your behaviour in classes, extracurricular activities, relationships and aspirations?
In your everyday life, does David Beckham really influence your behaviour in classes, extracurricular activities, relationships and aspirations? | Source

8. Who is your role model?

Objective: To assess the values you hold dearly to.

While it may be admirable if your role models include historical figure like Martin Luther King Jr, famous athletes like David Beckham or even God, these examples could be potential red flags for the interviewers.

In your everyday life, does David Beckham really influence your behavior in classes, extracurricular activities, relationships with family members and friends, aspirations and values?

A role model is one whom you can seek guidance and motivation from. More importantly, you wish to emulate the values of your role model.

For most of us, our parents, siblings, teachers, coaches and friends have influenced us immensely and it is perfect examples of our role models.

The ideal response encapsulates the qualities and values of the role model, examples of how your role model had positively influenced you and why do you find your role model inspiring.

Remember, ensure that your examples are specific and provide your answer sincerely.

The Interview Poll

Which question do you think is the toughest to answer?

See results


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    • Frienderal profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks Tanya! I appreciate you taking the time to read my hub and give me your feedback! :)

    • Tanya Kov profile image


      5 years ago from Kovalev

      I think it's mostly how you say it rather than what you say :) But nice essay!

    • Frienderal profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks for reading this hub! Hmm... I shall create a hub on the essay answers to the role model question. Perhaps you can take reference from the essay for any future college admission essays :)

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      I always hate the role model question, since I don't have one! Yikes!


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