Interviews, especially college admissions interviews for top-tier colleges like Princeton, can be stressful.
Many students are eager to gain a seat at the university, which historically has low acceptance rates. A strong interview can definitely help applicants stand out for all of the right reasons. So, what does it take to ace the Princeton interview and set yourself apart from the pack?
What Is the Princeton Admission Interview Like?
For many high school students, the college admissions process may be the first time they’re participating in an interview. As a result, students typically have questions about the interview process, like how to get into Princeton and how to prepare for a college interview.
Every school has a slightly different interview process. At Princeton, undergraduate admissions interviews are 30-45 minute informal conversations where students can ask their alumni interviewer questions and discuss their educational and career goals. These interviews are optional, so applicants who opt out of selection for an interview on their Princeton application won’t be penalized.
However, just because the interview isn’t required doesn’t mean it won’t be worth your time. The interview can be a great opportunity for students to learn more about Princeton from someone with firsthand knowledge. It’s also an excellent chance for students to demonstrate their expertise on the school.
Does Princeton Interview All Applicants?
Princeton cannot guarantee that every applicant will receive an alumni interview. Princeton’s alumni network strives to contact the vast majority of applicants every year to arrange an interview, but getting an interview will depend on the availability of alumni in your area. Interviews take place after the admissions office has received a student’s application, at which time the applicant should lookout for an email from the Princeton Alumni Schools Committee, inviting them for an interview. For the 2022-23 admissions cycle, interviews may be virtual or in person, depending on the student’s preference.
4 Common Princeton Interview Questions & Answers
After you understand the basics of Princeton’s interview process, the next step is preparing for the questions that may arise during your Princeton interview. The more you prepare and practice your responses ahead of time, the more confident you will feel on the day of the interview. Some common Princeton interview questions and tips for responses include:
One of the most common interview questions is some version of why this college. If you’re asked “Why Princeton” during your Princeton University interview, think of it as your opportunity to demonstrate your knowledge of the school and your interest in attending. Strive to reference specific classes at Princeton you want to take and professors you’re eager to study with to make it clear that you’ve done your research. If you’ve had a chance to go on-campus as part of your college visits, highlight any aspects of the campus or community that really stood out to you.
Strive to strengthen your answers by mentioning specific on-campus events, research opportunities, or internship interests. And whatever you do, avoid citing a superficial reason for wanting to attend Princeton, like saying that you want to go because you have friends on campus or simply because it’s part of the Ivy League. Your interviewer will expect more thoughtful and in-depth answers.
Describe Three Activities You Did During School
Students should also prepare to respond to questions about what they’re doing outside of the classroom. Given how important extracurriculars are for college, it’s a topic that is likely to be raised during every interview. The best answers are those that focus on a handful of passions rather than a laundry list of activities.
To take it to the next level, reference different summer experiences or internships that you’ve participated in to deepen your expertise.Don’t forget to mention how you would continue these activities while at Princeton..
Why You Have Chosen This Particular Major
Princeton interview questions will definitely gravitate towards academic commitments and interests. Before your interview, you should reflect on why you’re interested in studying the major you hope to choose and how that major might connect to your future career goals. Whenever possible, try to weave in examples and anecdotes that demonstrate your interest in the subject and what you’ve done to deepen that interest.
This question is another great opportunity to showcase your research skills by mentioning faculty in the major that you’re really interested in studying with or on-campus opportunities that directly relate to your major of interest
What Is Your Proudest Achievement?
Make sure you put a lot of thought into this question before your Princeton alumni interview. Focus less on choosing an achievement that you think “sounds” impressive and more on choosing an experience that genuinely made you proud.
That could be acing a test in a subject that really challenges you, launching your own fundraiser for a cause you care about or getting your writing published in the local newspaper. Whatever you choose, aim to connect your achievement back to your future goals and to the reasons you’re interested in attending Princeton University in the first place.
Princeton Interview Tips
Practicing and preparing for interviews is one of the best things students can do to set themselves up for success. We have a few other general pointers for you to keep in mind for the Princeton interview:
Form a Discussion
Princeton interviews are meant to be informal and informational, so try to approach it more like you’re having a conversation with an older peer or mentor. Instead of merely responding to what your interviewer asks, make sure you think of some questions you would like to pose to them as well. Not only will this demonstrate your interest in the school, but it will also help the discussion flow more freely and feel more natural.
Talk About Unique Experiences That Set You Apart From Others
Of course you want to stand out in an interview setting. But how can you set yourself apart? Brainstorm some unique experiences, facts about yourself, and qualities that you want your interviewer to know, and try to work these into your conversation. We all have differences that make us unique, so take the time to identify yours and draw attention to them in a positive way.
Smile and Be Polite
Make sure you’re well versed in proper interview etiquette before you schedule your conversation with an alum. Don’t forget to thank your interviewer for their time, arrive at your chosen destination a few minutes early, and be friendly throughout your conversation. While there’s no need to dress formally, make sure to choose a polished outfit that makes you feel both comfortable and confident.
Display Additional Achievements
Don’t be shy about your achievements. Interviews are an excellent opportunity to reference accomplishments you might not have mentioned before. Just make sure you work them into the conversation so it doesn’t sound like you’re reading off of your resume. Include your achievements in your answers to interview questions when they make sense as a part of your answer.
Now that you know what to expect out of your interview with Princeton, it is time to prepare. Get more tips and learn best practices with our ultimate guide to college admissions interviews. Be sure to also visit our resource on crafting impactful Princeton supplemental essays.