Interviews Now?

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Discus: Ivy League Schools: Harvard University: 2004 Archive: Interviews Now?
By El_Diablo (El_Diablo) on Monday, March 01, 2004 - 09:58 pm: Edit

Hi! Im from Sri Lanka and I emailed Harvard a coupla months ago to ask for an interview. unfortunately they said they do not have anyone on side of the planet (region) and could not offer me an interview.

Yesterday, I got an email saying they wanna interview me. Isnt this way late?

Has anyone else been called for interviews?

Or is this the usual protocol, where interviews are IN FACT in march?

Or is this an 'international interview' thingy?

Please advise

By Marite (Marite) on Monday, March 01, 2004 - 10:17 pm: Edit

Some people on the East Coast have just been contacted for interviews by East Coast Ivies, so you are not in a unique situation. Perhaps in your case they found someone who could interview you.

By Brownsugar (Brownsugar) on Wednesday, March 03, 2004 - 06:30 pm: Edit

My interview is today. Needless to say, I am quite pissed.

By Northstarmom (Northstarmom) on Wednesday, March 03, 2004 - 08:40 pm: Edit

Why are you "pissed" that some alumnus is volunteering to take their time to interview you and then to write an interview report on you? Based on your brief post, I am guessing that somehow you are resentful that your interview is happening so late.

Harvard gets about 20,000 applications, and tries to interview each applicant.

To do this requires an enormous amount of coordination between Harvard adcoms and local Harvard clubs, which include both clubs responsible for interviewing hundreds of applicants each year and clubs that have only a few applicants, but also have only a few alums, who are spread over a large distance and may be people who are extremely busy with their personal and professional lives.

All interviews are considered in admissions decisions, too. Don't assume that because some people may have been interviewed in January, your interview won't count. In my work as an alumni interviewer for Harvard, I have seen situations in which adcoms called requesting interviews ASAP (sometimes with only 1 day's notice) so that they could make sure the interview was in when the full committee would be assessing the applicant. I've also seen very caring, busy alumni interviewers rearrange their lives in order to interview a candidate with such brief notice.

Anyway, instead of being "pissed," I suggest that you feel grateful that the university tries to interview each candidate and see the real person behind each application and that alumni are willing to help in this effort.

By Clipper (Clipper) on Wednesday, March 03, 2004 - 09:23 pm: Edit


By Clipper (Clipper) on Wednesday, March 03, 2004 - 09:28 pm: Edit

This is a quote from Brownsugar from the Yale board - Harvard isn't even mentioned.

I'm visiting Duke at the end of the year. If I like it, then I'm screwed. It's a five-way tie between Yale-Duke-Stanford-UVA-Gtown. I'm hoping to be my Yale EFC down by about $6K before I really consider attending.

No disrespect intended but Northstar is correct - why are you "pissed"? Maybe because you didn't get a likely letter from H like you did from Yale?
Some kids are still waiting to hear something from any college and you are already unofficially in at several. Be happy about that instead of "pissed".

By Amylase (Amylase) on Friday, March 05, 2004 - 07:10 am: Edit

Hi el diablo,

I got called for interview today

By Annoyed (Annoyed) on Friday, March 05, 2004 - 07:27 am: Edit


I think you are from China, aren't you? (residing in northern China near Beijing, I guess??) As China is marked with an asterisk in the Harvard handbook, I would say being contacted for an interview is a very good sign, so congrats first!

May I know where your interviewer is located? Did he suggest anything like the interview is selective? I called Harvard many days ago and they said they would waive interviews for applicants from China because no alumni are interviewing this year. I am curious and thank you in advance if you know the answers and are willing to answer. Congrats again and good luck!

By Mary1019 (Mary1019) on Friday, March 05, 2004 - 07:35 am: Edit

Northstarmom: Wow! They actually interview every applicant? That's impressive. I thought they probably eliminated quite a few before scheduling interviews. My son was called for a 2nd interview. Can we assume that's a very good sign?

By Foreignboy (Foreignboy) on Friday, March 05, 2004 - 07:40 am: Edit

I think 2nd interviews are conducted when they're 50%/50% about admitting an applicant, so they want one more interview, just to make sure. Or maybe something happened and they can't use the first interview for some reason. Either way, it's probably a good sign, since they're taking the application seriously.

By Northstarmom (Northstarmom) on Friday, March 05, 2004 - 07:58 am: Edit

Yes, Harvard attempts to interview all students who complete their applications. In addition to helping adcoms assess candidates, the interviews also are used as PR by Harvard to help break the view that Harvard is a cold and snobbish place.

The only category of applicants with completed applications who may not get interviewed are students who live abroad in areas in which there are no alums available to interview them. During the summer, however, adcoms travel abroad in attempts to interview as many prospective applicants as possible.

In the case of what's going on in China and with Amylase, it may be that an alum has agreed to do a limited number of interviews, and Harvard is hand picking applicants for that. It also may be that Harvard is having a tough time making decisions with a very strong pool of applicants from China, who may on paper be very similar, and Harvard has begged the alum to help out by doing a few interviews.

I have never caught Harvard officials in lies, so if Harvard said before that there were no alums available to do interviews, I imagine that was the real situation then. Things change, however.

Re: Mary's situation: I would see the second interview as a good sign. Yes, it would mean that Harvard is seriously considering your son.

Typical reasons for doing a second interview are when Harvard is seriously considering a candidate and the interview report doesn't match the candidate. For instance, an interviewer may have given a very negative report although the candidate had glowing letters of recommendation or a wonderful essay.

In such cases, a second interview can help adcoms determine whether the candidate's application reflects excellent professional counseling and editing, not the true person, or whether the interviewer was inept or the candidate was having a bad day during the original interview.

Another possibility would be if for some reason the interviewer felt that s/he didn't conduct a good interview. Two examples of the latter come to mind. Jay Mathews, the Wash Post columnist, once wrote about how he got into some kind of argument with an applicant about the applicant's course selection. Afterward, Mathews realized that his behavior was inappropriate so he called Harvard and asked them to have the student inteviewed by another interviewer.

An example that occurred in my area was when a very experienced interviewer did an interview with a student who on paper was stellar -- had won lots of major awards for poetry, good grades, etc. The student barely said a word in the interview. After the interviewer sent in the report, Harvard requested that the girl be interviewed by a different alum to see if the applicant would respond differently. From what I hear, the student acted very differently during the second interview, and was admitted.

By Annoyed (Annoyed) on Friday, March 05, 2004 - 08:09 am: Edit

Thank you Northstarmom for answering my questions in your last post...from an experienced interviewer's perspective. It helped clarifying things up a lot!

By Mary1019 (Mary1019) on Friday, March 05, 2004 - 10:29 am: Edit

Thanks much, Northstarmom. The 2 interviewers were very different types of people - the 1st older and upper-crust; the 2nd more "down-to-earth" and closer to my age, according to my son. He thought both went well, but seemed more confident about the 2nd. We thought a 2nd interview was a good thing & that he was a strong candidate, but the reasons you listed tend to indicate that he's more likely borderline. Well, I'm not going to worry about it, and I don't see any reason to mention it to him, either. He has enough to think about right now - and the wait isn't much longer. Thanks!

By Brownsugar (Brownsugar) on Friday, March 05, 2004 - 03:34 pm: Edit

I think my statement was misinterpreted. The only reason I was upset was because the Harvard website says that you'll be contacted 4 weeks after submitting your application. At the end of February, I called the admissions office who said that I would probably not recieve an interview if I wasn't contacted before March 1. March 2 I was contacted; after several grueling interviews earlier this year, I was not up to another one. In fact a student that submitted his application 2 weeks after me had his interview the first week of January (legacy). I sincerely apologize if I came across as ungrateful, because that was not all my intention. Northstarmom is absolutely correct: I shouldn't have said what I said, but it was true my first reaction. I didn't realize the magnitude of my comments and negative the reaction to them, much of which is justified.

Clipper - My reaction has nothing to do with not recieving a likely letter. I am truly blessed to have recieved one from any school.

So, once again, to all, my sincerest apologies for the attitude.

By Amylase (Amylase) on Friday, March 05, 2004 - 11:40 pm: Edit


he did told me that it is a good sign to be contacted for an interview. he told me that it might be adcom considered me promising enough to be interviewed.

but i don't think my chance would get higher for that. I know what i am. a little guy always got ignored by colleges

By Amylase (Amylase) on Friday, March 05, 2004 - 11:45 pm: Edit

but it certainly made me feel better.

Before this thing, i felt my chance at harvard is absolute 0%, that's why i nevered bothered to come to this harvard's thread. It's Harvard guys, it's gonna reject us anyway.

But this interview gave me hope, now i belive my chance is not 0%, but rather somewhere 0.000000001%. At least not 0%.

By Amylase (Amylase) on Friday, March 05, 2004 - 11:47 pm: Edit

and thank you northstarmom for giving us dumb kids an experienced Harvard interviewer's perspective.

By Amylase (Amylase) on Friday, March 05, 2004 - 11:48 pm: Edit

Still i think this Harvard's thread doesn't make much sense.

Harvard is still a school of impossibility for most of us.

By Annoyed (Annoyed) on Saturday, March 06, 2004 - 01:18 am: Edit

Amylase, don't be so humble...I don't think many applicants from China have been contacted up to now and I remember you are still a junior, so quite impressive!

Out of curiosity, did he mention that Harvard is still on its way of contacting applicants from other parts of China? (Does your interviewer reside in Beijing?)

Thank you and congrats once again!

By El_Diablo (El_Diablo) on Sunday, March 07, 2004 - 09:54 pm: Edit

Hey Amylase, you seem to think along my lines about our chances boosting from a 0% to one in a million :)

Apart from that, I asked the alumnus I was interviewed by about why I was interviewed so late, and why I got an interview now when I had already politely inquired of harvard about interviews last year and was told that there were no one in the country.

It seems the Harvard Alumnus in Sri Lanka dislikes giving interviews to all the applicatns because if they do not make it to Harvard, they might hold ill-feeling towards him and hold him responsible for it. Therefore, he had told Harvard that he will only interview candidates Harvard is seriously considering. In my case, he is unsure whether the reason for my interview was this or the fact that I had asked for one.

To tell you about the interview, it was not good. He is from Harvard Law school and did not share a enthusiasm about my field of interest: engineering. He continued to ask my a lot of questions about local and international politics, and to which political parties I lean towards. Also, he questioned me on ethnic conflicts in Sri Lanka. Of course, I was completely dumbfounded and made a total fool of myself.

So though getting an interview did increase my chances to about .00000000000000000000000001 %, i think my interview itself reduced me to the former 0%.

Alas, I have resigned myself to God's greater plan, and we shall see houw it goes.

Good luck to all you people, and in case not all of you do get into Harvard (if its your first choice), I hope at least you get into another excellent university and have an excellent uni life and career. Myself, if I do not get a freebie (financial problems), I will ahve to resign to selling peanuts on a street corner.

el diablo

By Amylase (Amylase) on Friday, March 12, 2004 - 03:14 am: Edit

Ok, my interview went well and he told me that he will put in good words for me. Don't know how much it helps

By Northeastdad (Northeastdad) on Friday, March 12, 2004 - 09:05 am: Edit

El Diablo,
If you want to do engineering why are you looking at Harvard? There are better Engineering schools in the US. Did you consider doing a undergrad at one of the Sri Lankan universities with excellent engineering faculties and then coming over for graduate studies?

By Amylase (Amylase) on Saturday, March 13, 2004 - 06:29 pm: Edit

northeastdad, what is yr relation to northstarmom?

By Donjuan (Donjuan) on Sunday, March 14, 2004 - 06:39 pm: Edit

So is a second interview a do-or-die situation or can an excellent interview still bring a rejection letter come April 1st?

By Lovetheriver (Lovetheriver) on Sunday, March 14, 2004 - 06:41 pm: Edit

i had a regular second interview...dang, don't think it boosted me much.

i should've done something wild...

By El_Diablo (El_Diablo) on Sunday, March 14, 2004 - 11:39 pm: Edit

Since i followed a british-based curriculum with London A/L's I cannot apply to the local universities...

it turns out my interview was not as bad as i thought it was. the alumnus emailed me to let me know he's sent my recommendation, and he said he was impressed by my "clear intelligence and unpretentious ways"... so i guess my chances had increased to a staggering .000000000001% again hehe...:)

i've resigned myself to God's greater plan..alas, we shall see come April Fool's Day

By Mrscreixell (Mrscreixell) on Monday, March 15, 2004 - 11:03 am: Edit

Hello! I would like to know if the interviews of all applicants applies to grad school as well?

Good luck to you all!

Miren (Mexico)

By Mav (Mav) on Saturday, March 20, 2004 - 09:44 am: Edit

i had an interview last night.
pretty late huh?

By Piquant77 (Piquant77) on Sunday, March 21, 2004 - 05:58 am: Edit

same here Mav, had a phone interview with an adcom (this was a pleasant surprise; like others, I've found Harvard admissions office to be much more friendly than those of its peer institutions..not sure if this applies to the rest of Harvard tho) and an in-person alumni one. Very last minute, but a good thing nonetheless.

By Amylase (Amylase) on Sunday, March 21, 2004 - 07:57 am: Edit


i think you are sure in. good luck

By Phoenixin (Phoenixin) on Sunday, March 21, 2004 - 05:14 pm: Edit

piguant77, are you in mainland china? where in mainland? how was your interview? mine was kinda weird. Mr.P emailed me...and it was a long time ago

By Buckojack (Buckojack) on Sunday, March 21, 2004 - 07:14 pm: Edit

My interviewer was a really young guy who just graduated 4 or 5 years ago, and he really didn't seem interested. He asked me to send a lot of things to him prior to the interview so he could look over them and question me, and I sent them, but he said he didn't read them before so he couldn't ask me about them. He showed up 15 minutes late and seemed like he had forgotten he was interviewing someone. He asked me only 3 or 4 generic questions, like "what is your favorite subject?" and "why Harvard?". The whole thing lasted like 15 minutes and I was fairly discouraged. My uncle interviews for Harvard and he gave me some practice rounds which were usually about an hour in length, with fairly pressing questions. I am certainly not a top applicant, but I also consider myself to have a good enough shot that Harvard wouldn't tell the interviewer something that would make the interview seem pointless to him.

Is this a bad sign???? Or did I just have a bum interviewer? I really feel like he can't really make an informed decision about me because he put so little time and effort into me. Obviously it's too late for me to contact Harvard about this, but did anyone else share a similar experience?

By Lovetheriver (Lovetheriver) on Sunday, March 21, 2004 - 07:27 pm: Edit

i dislike young interviewers.
the older ones seem to be more interested in you.

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