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How to Answer Common Admission Interview Questions

How to Answer Common Admission Interview Questions main image

So you've gone through the application process, but there's one final hurdle before gaining admission. If you’ve got a university admission interview coming up, you’re probably wondering how you can prepare, and what questions you’re likely to face, which may be similar to those you’ll hear in a job interview. 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, but 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.

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 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 you’re genuinely interested in your subject and following it for the right reasons. Explain what drew you to the subject in the first place – perhaps you enjoyed studying this subject in your A levels, or, if you’re applying for your postgrad, perhaps it peaked your interest in one of your undergraduate modules. Show how the subject  fits in with your career goals or other aspirations – but without mentioning how much you expect to earn! Don’t say anything that implies you 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? 

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 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! You may also be asked about a book you’ve enjoyed recently or one that has a special meaning for you. These questions don’t just let interviewers see if you’re a keen reader, but also gives 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, or sound very sincere. 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? 

Unless the interviewers specify that they want you to talk about an academic achievement, this question can be about anything that you are personally proud of. Try and mention an achievement which is quite recent and talk about how it positively affected you. 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.. Contrastingly, this could also be a non-academic achievement; something you achieved in your spare time which got recognition, such as playing an instrument to a high level or running a student society. This activity will not only show commitment and that you’re willing to go beyond what’s expected of you, but the fact that you achieved this whilst also completing your studies shows good time management.

6. What do you like to do in your spare time?

This is asked in order to shed some light on your personality and to find out whether you’d be a good fit for the university. Here you should talk about a proactive hobby that you do often – playing a sport, for example. Explain what it is you like about this hobby and try to mention skills you’ve learnt from it which you will be using at university. For example, maybe you like that the sport constantly challenges you to improve yourself, or that you enjoy working in a team to achieve a common goal. Avoid bringing up controversial hobbies, or anything that might make you sound lazy or easily distracted (such as online shopping or watching Netflix).

7. 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! 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, summarize all the key points that make you an ideal student for the course, and for the wider university community.

8. What is your greatest strength (and weakness)? 

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,  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 already taken steps to improve on, also explaining how you intend to keep working on this, then interviewers will be impressed by your self-awareness. 

You can find more advice on getting admitted to university, including how to prepare for entrance exams, in our Admissions Advice section.

This article was originally published in February 2016 and has since been updated in October 2019.  

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Sabrina Collier's profile image
Written by Sabrina Collier
The former Assistant Editor of TopUniversities.com, Sabrina wrote and edited articles to guide students from around the world on a wide range of topics. She has a bachelor's degree in English Literature and Creative Writing from Aberystwyth University and grew up in Staffordshire, UK. 

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12 Comments

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The question are really helpful. I used these guidelines to answer the questions. Thank you.

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