What Questions do You Have?
By asking questions you are trying to accomplish three things:
- Demonstrate interest and engagement in the interview.
- Show initiative and maturity by taking partial responsibility for the conversation.
- Obtain answers that will help you decide if this is the school for you.
A solid format for framing a question is:
- Make a statement about your interest "Art is a very strong interest of mine."
- Add the relevant facts based on your knowledge of the school. "... and I read about the extensive art history courses you offer."
- End with your question. "Can you tell me more about the about the extracurricular field work that would be available to me?"
Come armed with at least one or two questions.
Questions for Interviewers typically fall into three categories:
Click to see more or less.
1. Informed QuestionsOverview
Informed Questions are research-based and should be prepared in advance after you have looked through the college website and determined which offerings interest you. The questions should be focused on finding out more about those offerings beyond what is described in readily available resources, and more specifically, how you might get involved.Sample Informed Questions
- Your college has some great opportunities for studying abroad. Is this a possibility for me if I decide to major in engineering?
- I’m really interested in working with / in (insert professor or research facility). Are there opportunities to do this for undergraduates? If so, what is the best approach to take in initiating contact?
2. Personal Experience QuestionsOverview
Your interviewer will be able to offer opinions and guidance based on personal experiences at the college. If your interviewer is an alum, he or she has the unique perspective of attendance as an undergraduate and subsequent career or graduate school placement after college. If your interviewer is an admissions officer, then more current perspectives of campus programs, events and the student body can be obtained. In general, people are eager to share opinions about personal experiences.
NOTE: These are not questions about the interviewer’s personal life (e.g., marital status, political affiliation or religion).Sample Personal Experience QuestionsQuestions for admissions rep interviewers or alumni interviewers:
- In your opinion, what kinds of students are most successful at this college?
- How would you describe the culture at the school?
- What are the students in the (insert department or program) like?
- What do you like about the college?
Questions for alumni interviewers:
- Why did you choose this college?
- What do you wish you would have known as an incoming freshman?
- Did you participate in (insert campus program or event)? What's it like?
- What was your favorite memory or experience at this college?
- What has it meant to you to be a graduate of this college?
- How do you think the college has changed since you attended?
3. Interactive QuestionsOverview
These questions arise as the conversation progresses between you and your interviewer. Often the interviewer has mentioned a particular program, club or other activity at the college, and you request more details. Asking for elaboration requires you to be an engaged listener.Sample Interactive Questions
- You mentioned that (insert topic) is something this college offers. Could you tell me more about that and how I can get involved?
Questions to Avoid
- Questions about your chances for admission.This may incorrectly convey that you are presumptuous. The interviewer generally does not have immediate access to your complete file and would usually be unable to give you an accurate answer.
- Questions about college or departmental rankings. This might convey that prestige is a concern of yours, more than the specific academic offerings of the college.
- Questions about information that is readily available on the college website. This would demonstrate that you haven’t done your homework. Answers to questions like “How big is your school?” or “Where is your school located?” or “Do you offer a business major?” or “What percentage of students live on campus?” are all available through a simple website search.
- Questions about negative press or rumors that have been circulating. Avoid topics that would put the interviewer in an awkward position or defensive stance.
- Too many questions that are non-academic. You should present yourself as serious student. While questions about sports or Greek life are okay, remember that you are going to college primarily for academic reasons.
- Questions about grade inflation or deflation. You want to convey that you are primarily concerned about learning, not about grades. Though it may be natural to be concerned about how difficult the college will be, the interview is not the place to express this anxiety.
- Questions about average salaries for graduates. Your focus during the interview should be on learning, not money. Though this is a valid concern, the answer to this question is highly dependent on so many different factors that you are unlikely to receive a response that is useful for you.
- Questions about the interviewer’s personal life. Even if you feel comfortable with the interviewer because he or she is young and hip, this is not the time ask about marital status, faith, voting record or living arrangements.