US University interviews

US University interviews

11 Jan 2024

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This informal CPD article ‘US university interviews’ was provided by UES Education, specialists in international university and school admissions, working with top schools across the UK and Europe to provide a bespoke service for those who want the best possible application support in the UK.

A US university application has many more components than a UK application, and one that’s a bit lesser known than others is the interview. Some colleges, particularly highly selective colleges, will invite students to an interview after they submit their applications. Some others may provide an interview to a student if they request it.

If a school is advising students applying to the US, they should familiarise themselves with what students should expect from US university interviews, so they can help students prepare and take advantage of an opportunity to make a favourable impression. What happens at a US university interview, and how do they differ from UK university interviews like those for Oxbridge applicants?

US University interviews: the basics

US university interviews are far more casual than Oxbridge interviews: they are informal chats held with an alumnus or alumna (a graduate) of a US university, and typically take place either online, or in person at a café or similar place. The latter is usually only typical if the applicant is based in London. The purpose of these interviews is for the interviewer to get to know the applicant: what are their interests inside and outside of school? What do they like about the college? Do they seem genuinely interested in and curious about the college? Are they a good fit for the college?

How to prepare

If a student is offered an interview, although it will be more casual and less pressurised than an Oxbridge interview, they should take some time beforehand to prepare. Familiarising themselves with the types of questions they are likely to be asked is a good idea, so they can have some time to reflect on their answers prior to the conversation. Students are likely to be asked questions about themselves (what subjects they study, their activities, their future goals); about their school and academics (including any academic enrichment they have taken part in outside the classroom); and about their interest in the college (what about the college interests them, whether they know what they want to study, what they know about the college including classes, curriculum, and professors).

One great way that teachers and schools can support students who will be interviewing is to have a mock interview with them, asking them the questions above so they can have some practice and feel confident on interview day.

What to do on the day

On the day of the interview, students should dress smartly, but not formally (casual trousers that aren’t jeans and a collared shirt would work well for boys, and a similar outfit or dress for girls). Even for an online interview, students should still dress well! If the interview takes place online, students should be sure to have a test call on the platform and make sure their microphone, speakers, and wi‑fi connection are working. And of course, they should be punctual!

In the interview itself, students should relax and be themselves: the alum genuinely wants to get to know them and find out more about their interest in the university. They will have enjoyed their time at university and want to share that with the student. Students should also prepare a few questions to ask their interviewer to show their interest in the college.


US interviews can be a great way for students to find out more about the colleges to which they’ve applied, and make a good impression. By supporting students who are interviewing, schools can help them succeed.

We hope this article was helpful. For more information from UES Education, please visit their CPD Member Directory page. Alternatively, you can go to the CPD Industry Hubs for more articles, courses and events relevant to your Continuing Professional Development requirements.

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For more information from UES Education, please visit their CPD Member Directory page. Alternatively please visit the CPD Industry Hubs for more CPD articles, courses and events relevant to your Continuing Professional Development requirements.

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