Undergraduate Admission Blog

Follow the Official USC Undergraduate Admission Blog for information, advice, and a behind-the-scenes look at our process

July 27, 2017

An Intro to Interviews

No time for a fun/lengthy/creative intro this week…we’ve got business to discuss!  The sign up site for on campus interviews is up and running (and we will post opportunities for off campus interviews later this summer).  Before you sign up for an interview, however, it’s a good idea to take a second to understand what USC admission interviews are and what they are not.
Our interviews are…

  • A 20-25 minute conversation with an admission counselor (not too long and not too short)!
  • Evaluative (while they are a good way for you to learn more about USC, they are primarily a way for us to get to know you better).

Our interviews are not…

  • Required (we know that only about 20% of our applicants will have the time/ability to make it to an interview).
  • A way to demonstrate interest (USC does not consider demonstrated interest in our admission process).

Perhaps the most important thing for you to know is that the interview is included in the review of your application, but it is only a small piece of the evaluation.  Your decision on whether to interview should be based on two simple factors:

  1. Are you available and able to make it to an interview?
  2. Is interviewing your strength?

Because this is an optional piece of your application, there is no reason to do an interview if the idea of answering questions for an extended period of time makes you nervous.  If, however, you feel you are “better in person” than on paper, this is a great opportunity for you to shine!


So let’s assume that, because you are still reading, you have decided to interview!  In that case, my colleagues and I would like to offer some advice…

  • Know the interview basics–For any interview, being on time and being appropriately attired are key.  There is no need to come in a suit, but you should wear clothes that are more formal than you would wear to hang out with friends.
  • Practice, but don’t over practice–You want to feel confident and have an idea about some of the points you’d like to convey, but you also want to be genuine.  You shouldn’t be following a script, but you also shouldn’t come in completely cold!  Ask a college counselor or teacher if they have a few minutes to help you practice answering questions on the fly.  Just understanding the flow of an interview can be really helpful!
  • Do some research–We will likely ask you questions about your interest in USC and how you chose your major.  While we don’t expect you to be able to recite our brochure, you should be able to point to at least a few reasons why studying at USC is appealing to you.
  • Add to your application–The people reviewing your application will have access to your activities, transcript, essays, etc., so the interview is a great opportunity to present information that isn’t listed elsewhere.  For this reason, we do not base our interviews off of resumes or any other type of document.  We want to use this time to get to know you better!  Think about what you plan to include in your application and use the interview to introduce anything you feel doesn’t fit into the Common App.
  • Do most of the talking–While our questions will drive the interview, we want to hear from you.  The questions we ask are not geared toward simple yes/no answers, so feel free to expand.
  • Decide if you want to interview with an academic department or the Office of Admission—While most interviews will be done with a counselor from our central admission office, several academic departments offer interviews with their admission staff as well.  You should feel free to interview with either (pick whichever makes the most sense considering the availability of interview slots and how certain you are of your major choice).  If you are interviewing with a department, you can expect to answer questions much more specific to the academic discipline you want to study.
  • Be ready to learn–There will be time at the end of the interview for any questions you might have.  Think of a couple of things beforehand that you’ve been wanting to know about our school and/or application process.  Students don’t often have the opportunity to sit down and ask an admission counselor questions one-on-one, so I recommend using this time wisely.
  • Be yourself–The most successful interviews are those where students are able to share who they really are instead of who they think we want them to be.  USC is home to a diverse group of personalities–help us get to know yours!



  1. Conor McGrory says:

    I’m very interested in scheduling an interview. I know that all the spots are full. Is there a waiting list?

    Conor McGrory

    • Brittany Baker-Brousseau says:

      Unfortunately, we do not offer a wait list for interviews. Only about 20% of our applicants are able to get a slot, so we don’t hold it against students if they aren’t able to interview.

  2. Ryan Ulrich says:

    Thank you this was very helpful for my interview.

Leave a Reply

Submissions are moderated.