Why Are You Interested in Our College?

A Discussion of This Frequently Asked Interview Question

Korean student walking on campus
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Like many of the most common interview questions, this one seems like a no-brainer. After all, if you are interviewing at a school, you have presumably done some research and know why you are interested in the place.

Weak Answers

Nevertheless, some answers to this question are better than others. Your answer should show that you have specific and admirable reasons for attending the college. The following answers are not likely to impress your interviewer:

  • "Your college is prestigious."
  • "I'll make lots of money with a degree from your college."
  • "All my friends are going to your college."
  • "Your college is convenient and close to home."
  • "My counselor told me to apply."
  • "You're my safety school."

The interviewer is hoping that you are interested in the college for reasons other than peer pressure or convenience. Similarly, if you say you applied entirely because of a parent or counselor's recommendation, you'll be suggesting that you lack initiative and have few thoughts of your own.

Give a Rounded Answer

When it comes to prestige and earning potential, the issue is a bit more fuzzy. After all, name recognition and your future salary are both important. The interviewer most likely is hoping that you find the college prestigious. That said, you don't want to come across as someone who is more concerned with material gain and prestige than with pursuing your passions and getting a high-quality education.

Many students choose a college based on sports. If you love nothing more than playing soccer, you're likely to look at colleges that have strong soccer teams. During the interview, however, keep in mind that students who are interested in nothing except sports often fail to graduate. Any answer you give about athletics should be balanced with academics.

Know the College

What you most need to do when answering this question is show the interviewer that you know the college's distinctive features well. Don't simply say that you want to go to the college to get a good education. Be specific. Let the interviewer know that you were drawn to the college's innovative first-year program, its emphasis on experiential learning, its Honors Program, or its international focus. Also feel free to mention the school's wonderful hiking trails, its quirky traditions, or its amazing lilacs.

Whatever you say, be specific. Before you set foot in the interview room, make sure you have done your research and identified several features of the college that you find particularly appealing, and make sure at least one of those features is academic in nature.