University of Delaware

Institute for Global Studies

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Study Abroad

Interviewing Students

Before starting to interview students, faculty should consider which criteria they will use to make their acceptance decisions. Acceptable criteria appear on this list, and faculty should develop their own rubric for rating applicants on all or some of these criteria that are relevant to their program.  This allows for more objective decision-making and a fairer process for students; it also gives faculty a written record of how decisions were determined, should these ever be called into question.

Faculty directors are strongly encouraged to interview all applicants. Personal contact is an essential means of gauging an applicant's maturity, judgment, self-discipline, and flexibility, all qualities that could affect how he or she will respond to the experience of living and studying abroad. All but last-minute applicants should be interviewed BEFORE the application deadline so that acceptance decisions can be made immediately thereafter.

Consider the interview your first opportunity to set the tone of the session abroad, including priorities for academics, sight-seeing, weekend travel, and other program-related activities. Let students know, for example, how many days per week you expect them to devote to class meetings and other structured activities, and how many are open for free activities. Make your attendance policy clear and repeat it periodically during both pre-departure and on-site meetings.

Some students believe they will be more independent when studying abroad than they are when studying on campus. To be sure, they will experience greater independence; however, students will need to be told during the interview that this greater freedom calls for self-discipline and that the program is first and foremost an academic learning experience, not a tour.

The session is likely to go smoothly if you communicate your expectations on these and other matters at the beginning. Once the group is abroad, provide regular reminders on these critical issues.

Use the interviews to start building relationships with students and developing a sense of community. Keep in mind that you will be in close contact with the students for several weeks. While there is no formula for interviewing, open-ended questions may yield the most useful responses: "How did you become interested in the program? Have you traveled overseas before, and, if so, what was the experience like? What would you do if a fellow student were about to do something that could have serious repercussions? Have you ever been homesick? What is your attitude toward alcohol consumption in private and in public?"

Interview Non-UD students over the phone.


Interview Guidelines and Questions:

As director of a Summer or Winter Session study abroad program, you have the opportunity to interview each of your program's applicants to determine if students understand the nature of the program and to assess their suitability for study abroad. Areas of concern that should be addressed during the approximately 15- to 20-minute interview include the following:

  1. The student's ability to adapt and cope in a different culture and his/her desire to learn about that culture.
  2. The student's attitude towards being a guest in the home of a host family (if applicable to program).
  3. The student's understanding of the academic nature of the program. Students are expected to take their classes seriously and attend class regularly.
  4. Any disciplinary/behavioral issues which the student may have disclosed on his/her application. Don't be afraid to probe into the nature of the violation and to inform the student that the Office of Judicial Affairs office will be consulted about his/her case before you decide on acceptance.
  5. Any special needs which should be considered (i.e. dietary restrictions - vegetarians, allergies - smoking, physical limitations, medical conditions etc.).
  6. The student’s understanding of the financial commitment implicit in their application (both tuition and program fee), and that the program fee is not refundable after acceptance.
  7. Make notes on each applicant. These notes can be particularly important in making and supporting acceptance (or rejection), and scholarship decisions.

Some potential interview questions:

  1. How will you profit both academically and personally from this study abroad experience?
  2. How will this experience fit into your overall educational plan?
  3. What will you want your host(s) to learn about you? About the United States?
  4. In what way(s) would you have a positive influence on your group?
  5. How willing are you to speak the target language (if applicable)?
  6. What do you perceive your responsibilities to be as a member of your study abroad group?
  7. Have you ever been lost? How did you deal with your circumstances?
  8. Have you had any direct contact with other cultures? In what way?
  9. How did you get interested in this program? What appealed to you most about the program when you first heard about it?
  10. How do you envision a typical day during the program?
  11. What differences do you expect to find between your home and your housing abroad? What would you do if you wanted to take a shower but there was only cold water? What would you do if you could not identify the food at the dinner table one evening?
  12. You have paid a fee to be housed in a home (hotel, dormitory). What rights and obligations do you have?
  13. How are you planning to pay for the program, keeping in mind that you will be responsible for paying both tuition and the program fee?
  14. Do you understand the University policies on alcohol assumption abroad? Do you understand that over-consumption of alcohol is a reason to terminate you from the program (send you home)?
  • Institute for Global Studies  •  Clayton Hall, 100 David Hollowell Drive  •   Newark, DE 19716, USA
    Phone: (302) 831-2852  •   Fax: (302) 831-6042  •   © 2016