5 Common Study Abroad Interview Questions to Prepare For

By Julia Dunn on June 10, 2017

While not every study abroad program entails an in-person interview as part of its application process, more and more programs are including this step when screening applicants to programs around the world. If you’re thinking about studying abroad (or if you’ve already been extended an interview invitation), here are some key study abroad interview questions to anticipate and prepare to answer.

1. Why did you choose this program?

To stand out in your answer, it’s best to express why some of the specifics of the program attracted you to the application. “I like Venice” isn’t exactly good enough or convincing enough that you didn’t just choose the program because it’s in a location you want to visit.

It’s best if you can explain why you might enjoy some quality of the program that is unique, or that separates it from other programs located in the same country. Try to be as memorable or thorough as you can be so that interviewers can’t imagine there being a better student in their particular program.

 2. How do you solve problems or address emergencies?

This question essentially asks you to describe your general methodology or thought process when confronted with an unexpected issue or snag: do you panic? Are you able to think quickly and rationally? What’s your process in deciding what to do when you find yourself in an emergency?

Interviewers want to assess whether you’d be able to handle snafus abroad. This is not at all to say that you won’t have support from others when you’re abroad — other folks would help you out in most scenarios — but study abroad programs just want to see how you approach challenges. This is an essential piece of information for them to have, as advisers and other administrators will be better able to support you.

Image via Pixabay.com

3. What do you hope to learn or discover in your time abroad?

You can almost count on some sort of question like this to be asked — what do you want to get out of your experience? What’s the goal? Study abroad programs look for very driven students who will get the most out of their time abroad, so be sure to disclose all your goals relating to studying abroad. You want to present yourself as a motivated and focused individual who won’t mess around in the program.

4. What’s your communication style?

Without excellent communication skills, trips abroad are nearly impossible. For one, your program will probably want to know where you are from time to time (to some degree — some programs are more flexible and loose than others that may involve lots of group trips). For another, you need to be able to communicate with your adviser about your plans and progress abroad.

In your interview, share your tendencies and preferences regarding communication. Let interviewers know how you process information and organize it (email versus text message, straightforward/face-to-face communication versus electronic, etc).  This way, you can minimize confusion and avoid negative experiences because you’ll have expressed exactly how you communicate as well as how you prefer to be contacted.

5. Who are you and what excites you about studying abroad?

This will probably be the first question. Surprisingly, it’s one of the hardest questions to answer sometimes. Before your interview, write down some bullet points of details about yourself that you can’t leave out. This will substantially help you stay on track when this question is asked. Mention a bit about your background if relevant/applicable, and throw in some details about the most crucial experiences to your college experience so far. Mention any campus leadership positions or involvements you might have in student organizations or departments. Student leaders are especially attractive to study abroad programs because these students usually already have the qualities essential to success in a program abroad: initiative, ambition, communication and organization skills, passion, and responsibility.

In terms of answering the second part of the question, think about the stories and narratives you may have heard from other students who’ve studied abroad. What appealed to you when they were detailing their experiences? Alternatively, explain how you’d incorporate the things you learn abroad into your life back at home. With this question, interviewers just want to get a sense of your intentions for going abroad.

There’s no guarantee you’ll be asked every one of these questions (or that they’ll appear exactly as phrased here), so to prepare for your interview, make a little reference sheet for yourself on which you jot down the most important details of yourself, your reason for pursuing opportunities abroad, your relevant experiences as well as the aspirations you have for your trip abroad.

Most importantly, however, allow your personality to come across during the interview. Study abroad programs look for students who have great personalities, including a sense of humor (almost a requisite quality for going to a new country!) It’s just as important to stay genuine and relaxed when you’re interviewing for your desired program, as you might find that your program adviser is the same as the person interviewing you, which could mean you end up spending lots of time with them. Be authentic and focused, and you’ll nail the interview!

By Julia Dunn

Uloop Writer
A writer, editor and educator based in Northern California.

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