Questions about the interview process

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Discus: College Admissions: 2002 - 2003 Archive: August 2003 Archive: Questions about the interview process
By Gammon (Gammon) on Saturday, August 16, 2003 - 10:12 pm: Edit

First of all, how important is the interview? Most universities say it isn't required, but that it's a very good idea. Would it hurt my chances to skip it? Or could it hurt my chances significantly if I have a bad interview?

Second, what kinds of things are normally covered in the interview? I mean, should I be prepared to go in depth on things that are on my application or are they likely to delve into other areas that don't show up there?

Third, what should I be careful to avoid doing or saying? Besides the obvious things like showing up sans pants.

I'm great at essays and things where I can take my time, but interviews always get me nervous because I can't take a time out to think in depth about my responses.

Currently I'm getting interviews lined up for MIT and UChicago, but I may have more.

By Ariesathena (Ariesathena) on Sunday, August 17, 2003 - 08:27 pm: Edit

I interviewed for MIT a few years back (got rejected, but such is life :) ), so a little advice/answers:

1. To skip it would certainly reflect poorly, unless you have a very good reason. It shows that you don't care.

Bad interview: if you come off as arrogant, cocky, or a jerk, yes, it might hurt your chances... but that is really what a bad interview is. That would show up in recommendations as well.

2. My interviews focused on passions, academic and extracurricular; basically, getting to know you outside of your application. If they find out that you love language, that's great. If you share how much you enjoyed working with little kids and what a certain time meant for you, awesome. If it's on your application, they don't really need to know about it... they are trying to find out more about you in the interview.

3. Avoid having nothing to talk about. Have a couple questions prepared, if need be. This is your chance to interview a representative of the school, which can be extemely valuable. If you get really nervous, bring a few written questions on a pad of paper... you can even write down the responses from the interviewer. Ask anything - from courseloads, requirements, how easy it is to get into the classes you want, how responsive the administration is, the social life, how diverse it is, not just in terms of racially, but socio-economically. It may be on the parent's forum, but there is a thread devoted to good questions to ask at an interview.

If you get really nervous, just say so... actual humans are interviewing you, they probably have a heart and will understand... relax and let kthem know what you're feeling, take time to answer questions, elaborate, correct yourself if you think you didn't get something across well... don't mumble, don't be wise, just let them know a bit about yourself (and being shy/reserved/nervous is quite acceptable!), and you'll be fine.

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