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How to Answer Common Admission Interview Questions

How to Answer Common Admission Interview Questions main image

If you’ve got a university admission interview coming up, you’re likely to be wondering how you can prepare, and what questions you’re likely to face. Read on for an overview of the most common university admission interview questions, and advice on how to answer them…

1. Why do you want to attend this university? 

This question is practically guaranteed to come up during your admission interview, and might be phrased slightly differently, such as “What made you choose this university?” This question tests your knowledge of the university and allows the interviewers to find out what motivates you. You should think about what makes you and the university perfect for each other – like a higher education love match.

Why do you want to attend

Don’t just talk about the location being pretty or the course ‘sounding good’. Try to give detailed, thoughtful reasons, by mentioning the department’s approach to your subject, or if it has particularly strong facilities for the course. Don’t mention things like the nightlife or costs, and don’t say anything that indicates that you didn’t really put much thought into your decision.

2. Why do you want to study this subject?

This question is very important, as the interviewers want to know that you’re genuinely interested in your subject and following it for the right reasons. Focus on how much you enjoy learning about the field, and show how it fits in with career goals or other aspirations – but without mentioning how much you expect to earn! Don’t say anything that implies you just went with what someone else suggested or picked the subject because you perceive it to be ‘softer’ or easier to get a place for.

3. What are you reading at the moment? What book are you reading

Especially likely when you’ve applied for a subject which involves a lot of reading (such as English literature), this question will hopefully spark a discussion between you and the interviewers. Here it will of course help if you’ve chosen some reading material which is in some way relevant to the course you’re applying for – so plan this in advance if you can! You might also be asked what book you’ve most enjoyed recently or what book has had a special meaning to you in some way. These questions don’t just let the interviewers find out if you’re a keen reader or not, but also give them some insight into your personality, and how genuinely interested you are in your chosen subject as well as other fields. It’s another chance to let your passions come through, and show off your potential as an engaged and independent learner.

4. How would your friends describe you?

This question again gives you an opportunity to talk about your personality – and it’s worth thinking about ahead of the admission interview. Although being ‘friendly, caring and a good listener’ is great, it’s probably not going to particularly impress the interviewers. Try and say something more memorable and meaningful, such as that you’re very determined or motivated; you’re a natural leader or a good collaborator; or you’re always keen to have a go when challenges come up. Be honest, but focus on highlighting your strengths. Try to back up what you say with examples, too.

5. What achievement are you most proud of? Achievement

The interviewers might specify that they want you to talk about an academic achievement, but even if they don’t, this is probably a good area to stick to in your answer. You could talk about a prize you won during your studies, a test you did particularly well in, or a coursework project you were especially proud of. Try and mention an achievement which is quite recent, and talk about how it positively affected you.

6. What can you bring to the university?

This admission interview question invites you to sell yourself, and it can be tempting to exaggerate – but try not to go over the top! Remember to back up what you say with examples; you could mention activities you’ve been involved in at high school that show your contribution to the school’s community, such as a debating society or helping to organize an event. “Why should we offer you a place?” is a similar question, which might be asked at the end of the interview to wrap things up. In this case, you should summarize all the key points that make you an ideal student for the course, and for the wider university community.

7. What is your greatest strength (and weakness)? Greatest strength

This question comes up a lot in job interviews too, and the interviewer might ask for more than one strength or weakness. For the strengths part, as with the “How would friends describe you?” question, it’s tempting to give a clichéd but safe answer, like “I’m a hard worker”. But again, admission interviewers are looking for something more thoughtful, which is backed up with examples. The weakness side of the question can be difficult, but if you’re honest, and talk about a weakness that you’ve taken steps to improve on, then interviewers will be impressed by your self-awareness. 

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Written by Sabrina Collier
Sabrina is a content writer for TopUniversities.com, providing guidance on a wide range of topics. A graduate of Aberystwyth University, Sabrina is originally from the West Midlands but now lives in London. 

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Excellent article.