The journey to getting accepted into a university can often feel long. When you finally receive an invitation to a university admissions interview, it can be a moment of relief, and it can also be the most nerve-wracking part of the process.
To make sure that you make a lasting impression and leave a positive impact, preparation is key. In this article, we will discuss ways to prepare for an admissions interview, including research, culture, networking, preparation tips and more.
Research the University
The first step to preparing for a university interview is to research the university. Check out the university website, student reviews, and social media to learn more about the university’s culture, programs, and professors. Try to understand what the university is looking for in students, what kind of students they want in the program, and who are the main professors in your area of study.
Some sources to look at are:
The university’s official website
This is a great starting point to get a sense of the university’s academic programs, extracurricular activities, campus culture, and admission requirements.
Online forums and social media platforms are a great place to find reviews and opinions from current and former students.
Follow the university’s official social media accounts to get updates on campus news, events, and student life.
Create a Sheet to Maximize your Preparation
Once you have completed your research, you may want to create a spreadsheet to maximize your preparation. The sheet will help you to organize and consolidate the information you have gathered about the university and the program you are applying to. You can then easily refer back to the information and use it to prepare answers for potential questions that you may be asked (see below for some examples).
A spreadsheet can also help you feel more confident and prepared for the interview, thus increasing your chances of success. It can also help you to identify any gaps in your knowledge, so that you can do further research to fill those gaps.
The sheet can include information about:
- what the university is looking for in a student
- the university’s culture
- the main professors in your program’s faculty
- university’s requirements for the interview
- advantages of studying at that university
- any other relevant information you have gathered through your research
Reach Out to Someone at the University
Reach out to someone at the university, such as a student in your research phase, to ask about the kind of questions they were asked during their interview and to learn more about the university’s experience. This can help provide insight into the university.
You can also ask students about:
- their day-to-day experiences at the university
- the academic and social culture
- the quality of resources and facilities
- any unique opportunities or challenges that students might face
Networking with individuals at the university can also be beneficial in building relationships and potentially increasing your chances of being accepted. You never know, you may also learn about other opportunities that are available at the university and be introduced to other students, faculty members, or alumni who can provide additional insight or support throughout your academic journey.
To find a former or current student at the university, try asking around in your network, attending virtual events, or posting in relevant forums.
Prepare as Soon as Possible
It is important to prepare for the interview as soon as possible – even before you apply for the program – for several reasons.
First, it allows you to gather all the necessary information you need. It can take time to research all of this, especially if you need to use multiple sources or reach out to others.
Second, preparing early gives you more time to reflect on your own strengths, weaknesses, and experiences, and how they align with the program’s goals and values. This self-reflection can help you identify areas where you need to improve and prepare for potential interview questions.
Third, by preparing early, you can also plan your schedule around the interview. If you wait until the last minute to prepare, you may end up feeling rushed or overwhelmed, which can negatively impact your performance during the interview.
Some programs may also have limited interview slots, so preparing early can help you secure your ideal time.
Be proactive in your preparation so you can feel more confident and organized!
Understand What the University is Looking For
It is important to recognize that universities are not just looking for students who excel academically, but also for students who possess certain personal qualities and traits that will make them successful in the program and as future professionals.
Universities often look for students who:
- are excellent and smart
- have demonstrated academic success
- have the potential to thrive in an academic environment
- are hardworking and dedicated to their studies
- will contribute positively to the program’s community
- are willing to help and support their fellow classmates
- are involved in extracurricular activities
- have a wide range of interests and experiences
Remember, the interview is not just about showcasing your academic achievements and qualifications, but also about demonstrating your personality, character, and potential to be a valuable member of the university’s community.
Understand the University’s Culture
Each university has a unique culture and is looking for different qualities in their students. Understanding the culture involves researching the values, beliefs, and traditions of the university, as well as the type of student they typically admit. This can help you align your experiences and interests with their expectations.
Some universities prioritize research and academic achievements, while others focus more on community involvement and extracurricular activities. You can tailor your responses to highlight the qualities that it values most.
This can also be a great opportunity to determine if the university is aligned with your own values and goals. If the culture doesn’t quite suit you, it may not be the best academic choice after all.
READ MORE: The Rise in Holistic Admissions: Why Universities are Looking Beyond Grades
Think About Whether the University is Right for You
Don’t forget that the interview is a two-way conversation! Not only is the university is assessing your fit for the program, but you are also assessing the university’s fit for you.
Consider the following:
- Does it offer the academic programs, resources, and support you need to succeed?
- Are the campus environment and location are suitable for you?
- Based on its reputation and alumni network, can it provide the necessary opportunities and connections for your future career?
Practice Answering Potential Questions
It is a good idea to practice answering potential questions that could be asked, as it can help you feel more confident during the actual interview.
Some examples of potential questions that you could practice with are:
- Why did you choose this program?
- What inspired you to pursue this field of study?
- What experience do you have in this field?
- How will this program help you achieve your career goals?
- What skills and qualities do you possess that make you a good fit for this program?
- Can you tell me about a time when you had to overcome a challenge and how you overcame it?
- What do you think are the biggest challenges facing this field in the next 5-10 years?
- Can you describe a project or research experience that you have completed in this field?
- How do you plan to contribute to the university community?
- What do you hope to gain from this program?
Don’t just focus on memorizing the answers. Rather, understand the themes of the question and how you can best answer them based on your own experiences. If you’re feeling unconfident about speaking, practice answering the questions in front of a mirror or with a friend, or consider recording yourself.
Be Punctual and Professional
Being punctual and professional is crucial in making a good impression. Here are some tips to keep in mind for the day of the interview:
- Dressing appropriately can help you make a positive first impression. Research the dress code of the university and dress accordingly. Generally, it’s better to dress more formally than too casually.
- Arrive at least 10-15 minutes before the scheduled time of the interview. That’s valuable time to settle in and prepare mentally!
- Make sure to bring all the necessary documents such as your resume, academic transcripts, and any other relevant certificates or awards.
- During the interview, make sure to be polite and courteous to everyone you meet, from the receptionist to the interviewer. This will show that you are professional and respectful.
READ MORE: How to Apply for a PhD: Your Step-by-Step Admissions Guide
Still Haven’t Applied?
Preparing for a university interview requires research, preparation, and practice. We hope these tips can help you increase your chances of success and feel more confident during the interview. Good luck!
If you haven’t yet applied, you can browse and apply to the universities of your choice on our China Admissions platform, or book a free call with one of our student advisors.