Preparing for U.S. University Admission Interviews

Why are Admission Interviews Crucial?


The admission interview is one of the most significant aspects of your application to a U.S. university. An admission interview gives your application a human face and allows you to show why you deserve to be part of the university. It is your chance to share information that may be difficult to convey on paper, such as your personality and character, life goals, and extracurricular interests.


The general rule for college interviews is to know whether they are optional or mandatory. The more competitive U.S. universities will require that you complete an admission interview. Some undergraduate schools call only the promising applicants for an admission interview, which heightens the criticality of the meeting.  For U.S. universities where the interview is an optional element of the application process, giving an admission interview is a signal of the applicant’s interest in enrolling.


Tips on Preparing for Admission Interviews


U.S. university interviews are conducted by an ex-student (alumna) of the university, an admissions staff member, or a professional interviewing company. Most U.S. universities do not require an on-campus interview. The admissions interview may be conducted over the phone, or via internet applications such as Skype. Professional interviews are generally conducted in person in China. You could also be interviewed in-person if a U.S. university staff member happens to be visiting China.


Although your performance in the admissions interview is not an indicator of the final admission decision, all other factors being equal between you and another applicant, the admission interview can make or break your chances of success.


Use mock interviews to practice your interviewing skills and your responses to expected questions. Most of the topics in your interview will not be known to you in advance, so you will need to rely on your interviewing skills, but some of the topics of discussion will be based on your application essays. Ensure that your responses are consistent with your essays, but try to avoid repeating what you have written in your application. Answer genuinely and enthusiastically, but be careful not to come across as overly confident. Because you are applying for higher studies in an English-speaking country, your ability to communicate in English is an important part of the evaluation. Some professional interviews actually score your spoken English ability, so you may want to consider interview training where you can get a scored “preview” of your spoken English ability.


Also, be aware that many admissions interviews now require the interviewee to write a brief essay on camera at the interview.


For the genuine candidate, an admission interview works as a two-way street. Apart from giving the admission officer an insight into who you are as a person, the admission interview is also an opportunity for you to learn more about the institution. Thoroughly research the university, and be prepared to discuss why the university is your top preference and how your individual interests fit in with the university and the course of study.


On Skype and video interviews, it’s important to know how to make an impression.  For instance, during the interview, you must look at the camera and not at the image of you on the screen. You must dress appropriately (not a T-shirt, but “suit and tie” is not necessary), sit straight with your back against the chair, and speak with clarity.


Although there is no checklist that can guarantee your acceptance, training for U.S. interview admissions is crucial. Our preVIEW (Preparing for Interviews) program combines live mock interviews with 16 interview training modules and personal writing coaching for essay preparation to prepare you for third party and alumni interviews using the same methods used by IBM and GE to train their executives. Our U.S.-based, certified preVIEW evaluators can also review your mock interviews and provide you with a spoken English ability score that will help you focus your language preparations. The interview training modules and evaluation programs have been developed by our U.S. based Eagle team of former admissions officers, U.S. university interviewers and trained TESOL teachers who are all alumni of truly outstanding U.S. Universities.


For more information on how preVIEW can help you, contact us by email, phone or WeChat.



Success with Students in the United States and China. Eagle Pathways is an elite American education consultancy headquartered in Silicon Valley that works with families across the U.S. and in China to plan the educational futures of their children.

We offer clients the best one-stop source for all US University admissions needs. We are dedicated to providing clients with the personalized attention, guidance, and skills necessary to be successful in the US University application process, in university studies, and in life.

The Eagle Pathways team of US university lecturers, teachers, former admissions interviewers, and industry experts advise our clients on admissions trends, what universities look for, key preparation tips, and how to navigate an increasingly complex and dynamic admissions process.   We then provide the training, experiences and services to get our clients admitted to top US universities through our three focus areas – ApplyWriteLEAD, and preVIEW.