Harvard Interview gone sour and weird.....

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Discus: Ivy League Schools: Harvard University: 2004 Archive: Harvard Interview gone sour and weird.....
By Xdtish (Xdtish) on Thursday, January 22, 2004 - 10:00 pm: Edit

I just had my Harvard interview and it was an hour and half of slow torture. It was very painful and traumatic.

It started very well; we talked about basic general questions. Then, I just briefly mentioned to my interviewer that I enjoy learning politics and watching CNN. Then unexpectedly, she began asking 30 questions on political science, Cali recall, referendum, 2004 presidential campaign, local politics, etc. It was overwhelming! She actually challenged me to 'debate' with her (kind of) on political issues.

I told her I have been watching the 2004 election lately (i.e. Iowa Caucus, NH election, John Kerry, Howard Dean, Bush's State of Union address, etc) She immediately began asking me 50 detailed questions on national politics and Bush's economic policy, etc. WTF!?!?!? How in the world did she think I was going to prepare THAT?!?! She asked me if I remembered any specific points in Bush's State of Union Address and my reactions to his new programs. She was really pushing me to answer her questions. At one point, she even asked to tell her the significance of Schneck v. US. She asked my thoughts on the court case and why, how, blah blah. I was soooooo scared. I felt as if I was being scrutinized by my US History teacher on American history.
I think I did fine, but c'mon, I thought the interview was designed to learn the personal-side of the applicant. Why the frick did she ask me all those political questions? I felt like she was questioning/testing/challenging/searching for my political views. (which I did not like)

What should I do? Should I call the admission office and tell them or just let it slide? I mean...it IS Harvard interview I suppose right?


By Webhappy2 (Webhappy2) on Thursday, January 22, 2004 - 10:18 pm: Edit

Lucky you... kind of... the State of the Union one would be hard. But I could have argued about Shenk v. US easily.

Just say that anyone but Bush is good (most likely she was a Democrat right?). :)

Bah, it's gonna get modified again...

By Xdtish (Xdtish) on Thursday, January 22, 2004 - 10:23 pm: Edit

"But I could have argued about Shenk v. US easily"

I could too. But my point is how is asking the signifiance of Schenck v. US actullay helping me in college admission?

Grrr, I don't want to sound whiny, but it's kinda bothering me...

By Itsdakid2004 (Itsdakid2004) on Thursday, January 22, 2004 - 11:04 pm: Edit

i think you should call/e-mail the admissions office and let them know how she conducted herself. thats exactly what an alumn interview is NOT suppose to be.

By Voigtrob (Voigtrob) on Friday, January 23, 2004 - 12:26 am: Edit

That's odd. If you really think it hurt you, then write a HUMBLE AS CRUD e-mail or make a HUMBLE AS CRUD call... if you sound cocky or like a jerk or something I think you're screwing yourself. Also, in deciding whether to call/e-mail, consider the possibility that she writes you a glowing recommendation, in which case you calling or whatever might seem really ungrateful and stupid on their end of the line.

By Northstarmom (Northstarmom) on Friday, January 23, 2004 - 12:46 am: Edit

In reading about your situation, I am thinking that perhaps your interviewer thought she was having a lively conversation with a sharp student who was passionate about political issues, but while you were actually handling the interview fine, your own insecurities made you feel that the interviewer was out to get you.

Nothing that you have written indicates to me that the interviewer was unfriendly, trying to make you look foolish or was asking you questions about an obscure subject that you had no interest in.

For instance, it's not as if she were conducting the interview in a language that you barely speak (something that did happen to a student who posted on CC about an Ivy interview in a foreign country). While the student said he was fluent in English, the interviewr conducted the interview in another language that the student didn't know that well.

I think that if students request alternative interviews because they feel that the interviewer botched things, Harvard tries to accommodate them.

Before asking for such an interview, though, sleep on it and think long and hard whether in your anxiety and insecurity, you are mistaking a conversation for an inquisition. Truly, to me what you described sounds like a very normal conversation at Harvard.

Behavior that to people who aren't from the NE or didn't go to Harvard seems snobbish, overly confrontive, and obsessed with details is normal behavior at Harvard, and is literally considered a friendly, lively conversation among equals.

While you may have been sitting there feeling intimidated by her honors and degrees, she may have felt she was interviewing a younger version of herself.

By Flearlybird05 (Flearlybird05) on Friday, January 23, 2004 - 03:57 am: Edit

Bah you all know he fell asleep and had a bad dream haha. Lucky him his real interview was during the time he was asleep in the waiting room. Either that or Northstarmom is right. Either one.

By Nightswimmer (Nightswimmer) on Friday, January 23, 2004 - 09:51 am: Edit

My interview was odd as well, if for slightly different reasons. The interviewer was friendly enough, but talked about himself and his drinking exploits at Harvard for literally 75% of the time. When I said something about running, he said "That's odd. You seem a little heavy to be a runner." When I mentioned I was taking a Holocaust history class, he told me I looked Jewish. He asked me where else I was applying, and proceeded to rattle off reasons why I shouldn't attend those schools. He also asked some really personal questions about my parents' divorce, for example: "Do you know why they broke up?" It was just weird overall.

By Nutmag345 (Nutmag345) on Friday, January 23, 2004 - 11:33 am: Edit

Xdtish, I actually think you had a good interview. It may not have been what you expected, but your interviewer thought you were mature and intelligent enough to speak to about political issues. And your interviewer did not broach the topic for no reason. Afterall, you told her that you have "been watching the 2004 election lately." However, I understand that you did not get an opportunity to demonstrate all the facets of your personality that you wanted. Only if you feel that your interviewer trully missed the essence of your character, should you request another interview.

By Nutmag345 (Nutmag345) on Friday, January 23, 2004 - 11:36 am: Edit

Nightswimmer: I feel you should ask for another interview. I am sorry you had such an inconsiderate interviewer.

By Xdtish (Xdtish) on Friday, January 23, 2004 - 12:13 pm: Edit

Thanx guys. I guess I'm exaggerating the situation. Now that I had the time to reflect back on my interview process, I feel better and I think that was just a glimpse of how a Harvard graduate would normally behavior under ordinary situations. I guess they don't take 'no" for an answer. And if I wasn't ready for that kind of intense atmosphere, then maybe, Harvard isn't right for me. (Hopefully not) Maybe I'm being overly cynical. :-)

By Hegemonhenenen (Hegemonhenenen) on Saturday, January 24, 2004 - 12:40 am: Edit

Indeed you are;-)
Every school has its unique folk... and I believe your interviewer wasn't "inconsiderate" as nutmag labeled her. If you expressed an interest in polisci (same as mine), then it would be feasible for the alum to go in depth in your area of focus, especially to see how much dedication you have put to it. If you haven't scrutinized the '04 debates too much, that's fine, you're still in school with tons of work to do...(going on a tangent on political theory always helps;) if you don't watch TV that often)
There are always going to be some Harvard alum who inquire intensively, as with any other school.
She (your interviewer) probably wanted to see how well you presented your OWN viewpoints on issues that govern current US policy; it was probably a test of your confidence rather than who/what you support.

Good luck with college apps:), appearances might be deceiving (don't overgeneralize;))))

By Gman64 (Gman64) on Saturday, January 24, 2004 - 01:53 am: Edit

Well personally, that would be the kind of interview I would like to get. I like politics and debate about that stuff all the time with certain adults.

Did you advertise to her that politics was your strongpoint?
If you did, then maybe you're just a fraud?

By Northstarmom (Northstarmom) on Saturday, January 24, 2004 - 03:32 am: Edit

Do keep in mind and have respect for your gut level reactions to the interview. Don't discount your feelings.
You may end up being a person who beats those 10:1 odds and gets a Harvard acceptance. If that happens, it will be important to make a thoughtful decision about whether Harvard is the place where you'd want to spend 4 years.
Colleges, including top rated ones, have distinct personalities. One can be very bright, yet not enjoy the very intense atmosphere that Harvard has. There are Ivies and top 10 schoolsthat have a very different atmosphere.

Some very bright people would have found the kind of interview that you experienced as exhilarating. Other bright students would want to run screaming out of the door. Either reaction is fine, and simply reflects one's personality, not one's overall intelligence.

By Xdtish (Xdtish) on Saturday, January 24, 2004 - 10:10 am: Edit

Thany you Northstarmom and Hegemonhenenen. I think I was 'freaking out' because it was something that I had never experienced before. It was indeed very INTENSE. But now I completely see the other side of the story. :-)

By Anyseagull444 (Anyseagull444) on Thursday, February 05, 2004 - 04:29 pm: Edit

How can u really tell when an interview has gone well? A friend of mine has been told by her interviewer that she was better than the other students he had interviewed...What does that mean? Was he simply being polite? Was he unprofessional? I understood that the interviewer is not allowed to express his/her opinion this bluntly....

By Mouse (Mouse) on Thursday, February 05, 2004 - 07:55 pm: Edit

I felt the same way during my EA interview (I got deferred, which is irrelevant). My interviewer was a lawyer and thinking about it, he may have felt the conversation was a "lively discussion between equals." Me, I felt cross-examined the entire time. Whenever I said something, he tried to get me to see the other side. I was torn between agreeing with him to not seem argumentative (my dad came with me to the Harvard Club dinner and he talked with my very interviewer beforehand. My dad, who thinks Archie Bunker was a good man, probably scared him, and I did not want to be like him) and defending myself. I know there are two sides to every story, but it was a tough call. To be honest, my interview was a tough man to engage, and I bet the lawyer persona had a lot to do with it. My friend, who interviewed with him right before I did felt the same way. He REALLY cross-examined her, when he pointed out that she didn't have her priorities straight because she said her passion was the sciences when all her extra curriculars said she loved English. (to be honest, he may have been right in this case) Well, that's a nasty question to explain or even understand about yourself on the spot. She had a decent rebuttal, she asked him why he was a lawyer when he majored in microbiology in college. He asked her why she knew that. She said "I googled you." Needless to say he wasn't too happy. What's said is said and she got into MIT anyway.

By Lilqtdncn (Lilqtdncn) on Thursday, February 05, 2004 - 10:56 pm: Edit

Wow crazy interviews! Good Luck Xdtish!
Hey I have a question for everyone, b/c my cousin just had her interview and she though it was going great but one of the questions that her interviewer asked was "Why do you want to go to an Ivy League school?" What kind of question is that? She said she couldn't think of an answer because she could only think of why she wanted to go to Harvard, not Ivy leagues in general. Was it okay that she didn't really answer the question, I mean what would you have said? What do you do if you can't think of an answer?

By Mouse (Mouse) on Sunday, February 08, 2004 - 02:08 pm: Edit

Honestly, her saying, "it's not the Ivy League school I want but Harvard because..." was the best answer to give.

If I was knocked speechless, I'd say umm and blabble a lot.

By Llamapyjamas (Llamapyjamas) on Sunday, February 08, 2004 - 02:54 pm: Edit

Call the admissions office and request another interview with a different interviewer. She wasn't supposed to grill you on specific things to find out how much you know, just get a feel for the type of person you are.

By Northstarmom (Northstarmom) on Sunday, February 08, 2004 - 08:25 pm: Edit

There's nothing wrong with asking, "Why would you want to go to an Ivy League school." It certainly should be a question that any applicant should be able to answer. Harvard is, after all, an Ivy League school. The question is just a variation on, "Why do you want to go to Harvard?" There is no one right answer.

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