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First things first – did you start your Common App account and list USC as one of your schools?   If not, jump over to and do that.

Second – take this simple, one question quiz to determine your eligibility for an admission interview:

1 – Are you currently a senior in high school planning on applying to USC as an engineering student for Fall 2015?

If you answered YES, congratulations – you may continue reading.

If you answered NO – check out these other ways (for HS students, for transfer students) to visit campus that aren’t interviews.  Transfer students and those not applying for the current term are not offered interviews.

Now – let’s handle the rest of this post with the types of questions I often receive around this time of year.  I’ll pretend it’s an interview (this will be fun).

How do interviews work?

Admission interviews are our chance to get to know you.  They are not an information session on the university or a way to better get to know the campus or university programs (That’s called Meet USC – and its an awesome way to visit campus!).  Interviews are typically 20 minute conversations led by one of our admission staff.   They are not necessarily academic, nor do they test you on any particular knowledge.  We want to get to know you.  Questions you can expect are: “Tell me about yourself?” “What do you like to do for fun?” “How do you spend your time out of school” and “If you could be one cheese, what would it be and why?” (just kidding about the last one).  The last few minutes are handed over you to ask any questions you may want to ask, but don’t stress – its entirely optional – you do not need to ask questions.  But, I should repeat, this is not the best way to get to know USC or the Viterbi School – that is Meet USC (and it’s awesome).

Do I have to come to campus to interview?

No.  While we are currently offering on-campus interviews (and will continue until the end of November), we will be offering off-campus interviews in select cities on select weekends this fall.  Appointments for both on- and off-campus interviews are limited, and available now.

Do you recommend admission interviews?

No.  I never recommend conducting an admission interview.

[pause … wait for reaction]

Let’s talk a little more about whether it is a good idea for YOU to sit for an admission interview – and I don’t know you.  Interviews are a very personal, one-on-one experience that can be stressful for some.  Sitting with someone like me for 20-30 minutes answering questions about yourself may not be the best experience for everyone, and as such, probably not a good idea.  If you believe that an interview will be a positive experience in which you will be comfortable and enjoy – by all means, go for it.  We want to interview as many students as we can in a limited schedule of availability.

Do interviews increase my chances of admission?

Not necessarily.  In fact, we admit more students without interviews!  We get everything we need to make a decision on your application, in the application.  Simply participating in an interview does not add “extra points” to your application. (in other words – don’t sign up just because you think you are supposed to do so) Interviews will never make or break admission decisions – and even if you are an amazing person who I just love when I meet you – a positive interview won’t necessarily trump poor grades or a weak application in comparison to our competitive applicant pool.

I see availability in a city I don’t live in – can I schedule an interview there?

I don’t recommend traveling to conduct the interview.  Remember, its a 20 minute conversation, and you will likely wonder whether it was worth it.

What happens if the interview schedule fills?

Everyone should know that interviews are optional.  Entirely optional, and we do not have enough availability to interview every single applicant. At best, we *maybe* get to 10% of the applicants.  As such, you may think about scheduling an interview after everyone has already scheduled one, or its just too late.  We do not hold waiting lists, and we do not hold interviews past the dates noted on our website.

If you miss the opportunity to interview – don’t even give it a second thought.  Read the question above (more get in without interviews).  If you were hoping to learn more about the school, great – we offer the far more comprehensive Meet USC program year round – or just give us a call to talk.  We are always happy to talk more about our programs and help you better understand the school and life as an engineering student at USC.

I hope this helps to shed a little more light on to our interview practices.  I know every university is different – so, if you have any more questions, please give us a call at (213) 740-4530 and we can discuss it more in-depth with you.


Paul Ledesma

As Executive Director, Paul oversees Undergraduate Admission for all programs at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering. He was born and raised in southern California and is a lifetime Dodgers fan. He enjoys traveling (Italy may be a second home), discovering new restaurants in LA (tacos anyone?), and while he may not qualify as a bonafide movie-buff, he loves movies (especially comic book movies). He studied Psychology for his bachelor's degree, minored in Public Management, and was active in leadership for community service groups Troy Camp and Dance Marathon while attending USC. When he's not working he enjoys spending time with his wife, daughter, and rescued pup and kitty in Redondo Beach, CA. (well, maybe not the cat so much) Preferred Pronouns: he/him/his