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Although interviews are rarely mandatory for admission into any American university, they are often recommended and are an excellent way of finding out about the place in which you are planning to spend the next four years. Interviews for international students can function in two ways...

During the Campus Visit

If you are embarking on the grand college trip (i.e., a whistle-stop tour around multiple colleges in five days), it is advisable you try to meet with people in the admissions offices while you’re on campus. They’ll be impressed that you’re organized enough to make the effort and it is a good chance to get any questions about the place cleared up while you’re still on site.

If personal interviews aren’t available, you should still attend the tours and information sessions for applicants. These people have got selling their institution down to a fine art and it would be a shame to miss out on the spiel.

Interviews with Alums

The other and more common way of interviewing is via the alumni systems many colleges have set up. American universities believe that no one is more qualified to represent their institution than one who has been there and survived. The majority of the top universities recommend these interviews and since their alums tend to be flung far and wide, there are normally many eager Americans in London just waiting to find the perfect Brit for their alma mater.

Preparation for these interviews need not be extensive – although wearing the colour of your intended school is one possible starting point! In general, these alumni are as intent on selling their school as they are on screening you and this is the best time to ask all those questions the many guides on your bookshelves have left uncovered.

Do They Matter?

In most cases these interviews have very little sway in the application process but are a great opportunity to form one more bond with the school and find out what you really want to know. Don’t stress about them too much, just brush your hair, put on your best English manners and be prepared to talk about why you’re interested in America (and, in particular, their alma mater) and what you hope to get out of your university experience there.

And in case you’re wondering, the university will make sure that its interviewers in England get in touch with you. So don’t start pestering them; every adequate applicant will get an interview, but sometimes matching up assignments can take a while.

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