Five questions for your college interviewer

Students often wonder what questions they should ask their college interviewers. It’s a good instinct to think about this ahead of time. If you’re genuinely interested in the college, it stands to reason you’d have a question or two of your own. And the best questions are those that are genuine, that come from a place of real curiosity, interest, and a recognition of the opportunity before you to speak with someone who went to the very college you’re applying to.

Here are a few question suggestions that could open up some interesting conversations with your interviewer. Don’t jettison genuine questions of your own to replace with these—they’re not inherently better than what genuinely interests you. But if you just can’t come up with any questions of your own, these are good bets.

1. When you picked this school, was it an easy choice for you?
What a great opportunity to learn about your interviewer’s college process. Maybe this school wasn’t their first choice. Maybe they were wavering between two schools and didn’t know they’d made the right decision until a semester or two into their time there. Maybe they transferred, or chose it because of the financial aid package, or their parents imposed their college choice on them. Your interviewer was once where you are today, a college applicant who didn’t necessarily have all the answers. Take them back to that time and see what you can learn from their experience.

2. What role did your college play in helping you get where you are today?
It’s always interesting to learn how a successful, engaged person ended up where they are today in life. Invite your interviewer to show you the connection between their time in college and their life today. The answer will give you a real glimpse into the influence colleges do—or do not—play in shaping life after college.

3. Are you still close with anyone that you met in college?
It would be weird to ask your interviewer, “Are you married?” or “Do you have a best friend?” But asking about their connections to people they met in college is a different—and totally appropriate—story. Connections made in college are one of the most common reasons people look back fondly on those years. And there’s nothing wrong with showing an interest in the personal side of their college memories.

4. Do you think students you speak with are interested in this school for the right reasons?
There is no short list of “right reasons” to choose any school. But your interviewer probably has strong feelings about what makes this college so special, reasons that may not be clear on the website or in the college’s presentations that they make at college fairs. This question invites them to share those thoughts. And it never hurts to get your college interviewer to talk about what they think is important about this school.

5. If you had to do it all over again, would you do anything differently in college?
This question just hits all the right notes. It shows you’re interested in the interviewer’s perspective. It shows you’re thinking not just about getting into college, but also about making the most of it once you’re there. And it shows you’re not just like every other applicant who waits passively for the interviewer to ask all the questions. Your most important goal in a college interview is to have an interesting conversation with an adult. That means answering and asking questions, talking and listening. When you ask a good question that gets your interviewer talking, especially one about their time in college, sit back, listen attentively, and know that you’re doing your part to accomplish your goal.