Sample Questions for International and Exchange Student Interviews

Cambridge Network is the international education partner of more than 200 American private high schools helping build and sustain their international program. In order to better prepare them – and our student applicants – for a strong first impression of the school, we are providing a list of sample interview questions below.

International students who are interested in finding the perfect American study abroad experience, host family, or academic support opportunities should submit a student inquiry form.

The first part of your interview should involve simpler, more common questions to help students get their footing and build their confidence. Here are several examples in a few different categories:

Getting to Know the Student

  • What is your given name?
  • Do you have an English name? How did you get that English name?
  • If you had to choose just one word to describe yourself, what would you choose?
  • Tell me, why do you want to study in the U.S.?
  • Why do you want to study at our school?
  • Tell me about your hometown. If I came to visit you, where in your hometown would you take me? What would you show me?
  • What is one thing you love and respect about your mother or father?

Cultural Understanding

  • What is one difference between education in China and education in America?
  • What is one part of American culture that you are excited to experience?
  • What is one part of Chinese culture that you would like to share with Americans?

Goals and Aspirations

  • What is your favorite subject to study in school?
  • What do you do in your spare time?
  • What ways would you like to get involved in our school? Do you have any interest in playing a sport or joining a club at our school?
  • When you go to a university, what would you like to study?
  • In ten years, where would you like to be living, and what would you like to be doing?

Your follow-up questions should involve “why” or “how” questions to probe deeper and get a more accurate sense of the student’s ability to converse outside of rehearsed topics or answers.

As an example, if a student says, “I play the piano,” you could follow up by saying, “Do you think it’s important for children to learn an instrument? Why or why not?”

While the most compelling interviews will end up being conversations between you and the student, it’s helpful to have a list of questions that can help begin or further the conversation, as well as get a bit of more in-depth insight into how the student thinks.

Here are a few examples:

Getting to Know the Student

  • When you study for a test, do you prefer to study by yourself or with a group of friends?
  • If you could be extremely talented at something, what would you choose to be skilled at? Why?
  • Tell me about your favorite teacher. What do you like about them?
  • What types of qualities do you think are important in a leader?
  • Describe a disagreement you’ve had with a family member or friend. How did you resolve it?
  • Describe your best friend. How is he or she similar to you? How is he or she different?

Cultural Understanding

  • Why do you want to live with a host family?
  • What is something you can do to show your host family that you respect them?
  • Have you ever traveled abroad? What do you know about the United States?
  • What’s a challenge you have faced in the past? What’s a problem you may face in the U.S.?
  • What are your goals for living with a host family?
  • What are some things you would like to do with your host family?

Goals and Aspirations

  • If you had ten million renminbi (the official currency of China), what would you do with the money?
  • If you could travel anywhere in the world right now, where would you go?

In addition, you may also choose to use questions to test certain things.

To test verb tense proficiency, you could ask the student to describe everything they have done today (past) or what they intend to do when they graduate from college (future).

To test academic proficiency, you can ask standard questions from various subjects, like “What is six times three?” “Is Coca-Cola a solid, liquid, or gas?” or “Can you describe what you are learning in biology class this week?”

To test their reading skills, you can send them a news article and then have them read it to you. You can also check their writing skills by asking them a question about the article and asking them to type the answer to you.

Be sure to read our next post in the series, “Interviewing International and Exchange Students: FAQs for Schools”.

Cambridge Network is an international education consulting company that provides admissions, academic, and homestay solutions to schools throughout the United States and Canada. We work to raise the global profile of high schools, enhance diversity, and provide valuable support and supervision for all students.

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For schools looking for more information on Cambridge Network and our services, please submit an inquiry form.