Financial Aid Interview Questions – Picture this: You just went through a college interview for your first choice school. Your answers were well thought out, intelligent and candid.
And just when you think the situation is over, the interviewer asks, “What questions are you asking me?”
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And your interviewer sits there watching you, as you scramble to come up with the perfect question for the occasion. Something. Something!
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This is something I often hear from students: they prepare well for answering interview questions, but little for ending the conversation when they switch roles and ask questions.
And THAT is a missed opportunity to show that you are prepared and smart, have done your research and know exactly what you want in college.
Well, I am going to share with you some sample questions that I asked the university. But before you guess and copy/cut, here are three things to consider:
This tip came from Monica James on a podcast we did about college interview tips. Above all, you want your interviewer to like you and make a strong note of your application when it is reviewed.
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The Gospel? It’s actually a lot easier to be loved than it sounds. Once you land an interview at the school of your dreams, you probably don’t have time to add great things to your to-do list. But what does it look like? That’s surprisingly easy.
If you want to be like you, find ways to ask your student about themselves, their experiences, their knowledge, and their opinion. People like to talk about themselves, and it makes them happy and useful if they can offer wisdom and guidance that can help others make better decisions.
Then they combine those happy moments with you, when asked. Those positive feelings combined with your thoughtful responses make you more likely to be remembered when it comes to judging the time. All because you gave the interviewer a chance to talk about themselves.
Did the interviewer ask you specifically about your academic interests and role as team captain of the Geography Bee, do you really want a way to let them know you’re a champion of champions? Say, “I’ve been training since I was four years old. What’s the school sports team like?”
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If they don’t ask about your prize-winning genetics project, you can say, “So I’ve been doing a science project on DNA and genetics for two years now. I know that Dr. Li has done some really innovative research in this area. Are there any other microbiology professors doing interesting research… or projects you know of?”
It’s also good to ask about things you’re just curious about and want to know more about
It’s good to give the interviewers time to talk about themselves. It’s a good idea to use quizzes to assess how great you are. It’s also good to ask questions because you’re curious.
You may ask “Honestly, how is the food in the cafeteria?” or “How hard is it to do plays in the drama department if you’re not a drama major?” or “Is it boring to go to college in a city of 5,000?”
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Which teachers inspired them? Were they part of Greek life or not? Why? What did they think of their first year and the food in the cafeteria? Your interviewer’s answers will give you an insight into who they are and possibly what to expect from their school life.
Student opinions on how a university differentiates itself can differ greatly from what marketing materials would have you believe, so it’s good to hear insights from multiple sources. Perhaps the textbooks emphasize small size and sports, but the teachers feel the real difference is the diverse staff, research topics and their unique study abroad program. Good to know!
Maybe they’d stay in the dorms for another year instead of taking a flat or trying more outside their comfort zone. Perhaps they would take a low-paying summer internship on their farm instead of a high-paying factory job (or vice versa). And you can be sure that many people probably missed fewer classes and attended fewer work hours (hint hint).
Obviously everyone makes different mistakes, but just listening to some “don’t be stupid like me” tips can help a lot.
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Are your school dropouts directly related to the things that are important to you? If you know you want to go to pre-med, but your interviewer has harsh words about the biology department, this probably isn’t the school for you. But if you’re going to study English, it doesn’t matter if the biology department is a mess.
In a perfect world, their answer would be, “Their course prepared me for my first job. They helped me get an internship. The careers office trained me to prepare for interviews. The student association puts me in touch with people in my field who can give me career advice. ”
Are students at this school very politically active? Are you really, really committed to their studies? Is studying abroad better than usual? More entrepreneurial than usual? Learning how this student body differs from others will help you decide if it’s a good fit for you.
Perhaps they are proud of the school’s commitment to diversity when it comes to hiring. Maybe they’re excited about the history of the football team or the latest research from the psychology department.
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As always, check how these values align with your goals and what you hope to get out of your college experience. That great soccer team won’t help much if you’re a soccer player going to study physics.
Would this school be right for the outgoing, athletic type who enjoys sports and social projects? Or is it really worth considering, out of the box ideas who want to start their own business, work independently and study abroad in Thailand?
However the interviewer answers, their answers will help you a lot if you know yourself well enough to understand your own personality. Hearing that startups are successful at this school isn’t much use if you don’t know you’re getting into it yourself, right?
Oof. What if they get into this situation and put you on the spot before you have time to get comfortable with the conversation?
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If the interviewer starts with “What questions are you asking me?”, repeat what you want. “I am really interested in __________ and wonder what opportunities your school offers ____________”
It is of course important to go into this conversation knowing what you want to say about yourself: you want to learn the art and direction of an a cappella group. Interested in cancer research and studying ancient languages. He wants to study political science, play in a jazz band and R.A.
I have shared most of the college interview questions above. But if you forget, just go back to the information you want to communicate and ask questions around it.
Studying political science? Try “I started a Young Progressives club at my school and plan to study political science. What research or books are Poli Sci teachers currently working on?”
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Interested in becoming an RA? Try “I’ve been a camp counselor for years and I’m interested in becoming an R.A. when I’m high. What does an R.A. look like? Do you feel like they helped? Did you know someone who was R.A.? they like it?”
Or be curious. Start with whatever comes to mind when considering this college and go from there.
Did I emphasize the benefits of pleasing your interviewer in the previous paragraph? Yes. But you don’t have to stick to softball questions they’ve heard a million times before. It’s okay if you ask them a question that they can’t answer right away or that requires some research on their part. You just showed your brain!
9. How is the school [insert your favorite social cause: increasing diversity in the workforce, reducing carbon emissions, questioning discriminatory behavior]?
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You really have a reason to be passionate, don’t you? Ask your conversation partner how the school is doing and why. Do they have a schedule? How have they dealt with questions or concerns about this topic in the past? Are there student groups that focus on this goal? Of course, ask a question that you really like. Don’t use this question as an opportunity to be more vigilant about why you didn’t invest.
This question isn’t always a stumbling block, but if the interviewer is a college student who graduated a few years ago, he may not be aware of internships and career services. Or maybe every internship and career guidance department is different and they don’t really know the English department.
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