3 Tips for Your College Interview

Emily "Pete" Petersell

Interviews are an optional part of the Olin application process—we do not require students to interview prior to submitting an application, but we do offer opportunities throughout the fall for prospective applicants to connect with Olin community members if they wish. Interviews allow us to get to know students a bit better and also provide a chance for students to learn more about Olin, too.

If you’re applying to Olin this year, there is still time to request an interview through our Alumni Interview Program. Even if you aren’t planning to interview with us (which is totally OK!), you may be interested in reading the following three tips for approaching a college interview with confidence!

1. Frame the interview as a friendly conversation—it’s not an oral exam or a quiz!

When I interview students for Olin, I ask open-ended questions that I think will help me get to know the student a bit better. I’m not expecting a specific response; I just want to understand what makes them tick, and why Olin might be of interest to them. I know that the responses I get to my questions are going to be very different from student to student, and that’s the way it should be! There are no right or wrong answers—so just be yourself!

In order to feel more relaxed and more “yourself” during an interview, it may be helpful to think of your interviewer like a person you’ve just met at a party or a picnic or another social gathering. If you were chatting to someone new in a casual setting, you wouldn’t be trying to guess what that person wanted you to say or trying to come up with the “right” answers, right? Instead, you would chat with them naturally about topics that are of interest to you, maybe sharing some things about yourself. They might then ask some follow-up questions, giving you the opportunity to expand a little more on what you’ve said, and the conversation can flow freely from there. This is exactly how your interview can go, too, if you just be yourself!

2. Come prepared to talk about more than just your resume.

An interview is an opportunity for the admission staff to learn a little more about you as a person, beyond what’s going to be in your application. If you interview with an Olin alumni interviewer or staff member, your interviewer’s notes will be included as an additional material in your application file. So you should view the interview as just that: an opportunity to add a little more to your application. Feel free to tell us something new about you that might not be mentioned in your application. Perhaps provide a more in-depth explanation of your interests in a certain area. Maybe you can tell us about a question you’ve been wondering about or a challenge you faced recently that you were particularly excited to overcome. Tell us about the things you may be looking forward to in the near or distant future, and why. Or, if you want to talk about one of your recent accomplishments or activities, make sure to expand on it—why are you proud of that particular accomplishment? Why is that activity so important or valuable to you? Tell us MORE! We’re excited to get to know YOU.

3. Come prepared to ask questions about Olin (or whatever college you are interviewing with)!

Asking questions during an interview isn’t just for the sake of showing the interviewer that you are prepared or interested in the college. (Spoiler alert: the interviewer already knows that you’re interested—because you signed up for an interview!) But asking questions is important, because an interview is a two-way street—it is as much an opportunity for you to learn more about the college as it is an opportunity for the college to learn about you.

I encourage you to use this valuable one-on-one time to gather any additional information you may still need in order to make an informed decision about Olin, beyond what you might find by reading our website. Are you wondering about what types of jobs Oliners get after graduating? Ask your alumni interviewer about their current work or how they got their job! Curious about what the vibe is like on campus? Ask a staff member what they like most about the Olin community! (I personally love that Olin students are such imaginative people who love to try new things…I am inspired every day by their bravery!) Our website and publications are loaded with information, facts and personal stories, all designed to help you imagine what an Olin experience might look like, but having the chance to meet folks who are part of our community, and to ask and answer questions directly, will give you more context as you consider whether or not Olin will be a good place for you to learn and grow. 


I hope you found these tips helpful! If you have any questions about our Alumni Interview Program, feel free to reach out to me at emily.petersell@olin.edu

Ring for Success bell in Library

Ring for SUCCESS! Photo taken in the Olin Library during the 2017 Alumni Weekend. Success might not be as simple as ringing this bell, but being yourself during an interview might help!

Posted in: Pete, All Admission Staff Blogs