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Interview: First name basis?

polkadots1234polkadots1234 Posts: 181Registered User Junior Member
edited January 2008 in College Admissions
My Harvard interview is coming up... and although my question sounds stupid, I'm going to ask it anyway:

When should I refer to my interviewer as Mr/Ms. -- and when can I just call them by their first name?

Is there a certain age to distinguish between the two?

Yikes! I'm afraid I'll offend someone by calling them by their first name!
Post edited by polkadots1234 on
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Replies to: Interview: First name basis?

  • woohoo!!!!!!woohoo!!!!!! Posts: 309Registered User Junior Member
    then dont. i if you arranged it by like email, then you should address them the way you did in the email. if they called you, call them by what they called themselves. if people get offended by you calling them the wrong thing, then they seriously need to CHILLLLLLLLLLLL. if you call them the wrong thing, they'll correct you.


    Bottom line, DONt WORRY.
  • PerfectedxchaosPerfectedxchaos Posts: 872Registered User Member
    If they're in their 20's, I would say it's okay to go by a first name basis. But this depends on if you've emailed with them to make up the time, or if it was more of a he/she called you once, and you haven't heard from them since type of thing.

    I mean, for my Brown interview, I had emailed him a couple times leading up to it to find out directions/time/date that would be suitable. So it wasn't really a problem. Additionally, there was never a point in the interview where I had to call him by a name per say.

    So I would just go with instinct, or Mr./Mrs. in doubt. I would say it's better to be too polite, than to be too casual.
  • dewdrop87dewdrop87 Posts: 3,397Registered User Senior Member
    Yeah...I usually call the person by their title (Mr./Ms./Dr...if I know that). Then...if they ask me to call them by another name I do that. If they offer nothing...then I will continue to refer to them by their title.

    Like the poster before me said...it's always better to be too polite.
  • polkadots1234polkadots1234 Posts: 181Registered User Junior Member
    "call them by what they called themselves"

    the problem is that most people introduce themselves: Hi, I'm [first name] [last name], whether they are 20 or 50.

    So, if the person is in their 20s or 30s, can I just address them by their first name in person and in thank-you notes after the interview?

    Yes, I am spending way too much time stressing over this... :p
  • asdfjkl1asdfjkl1 Posts: 1,950Registered User Senior Member
    As drewdrop87 said, you start out with Mr./Ms. If you're uncomfortable with a title, just avoid the title addressing what so ever. But, unless they ask you to, don't use the first name basis. If it's casual conversation, they probably will. I didn't go for a Harvard interview but I did go on an interview. My interviewer was 50s-60s ish but we had a really casual/dynamic conversation and I called her by her first name. It really depends on the person.
  • Christopher546Christopher546 Posts: 491Registered User Member
    Unless they only give you their first name, start by calling them Mr. or Ms. If they want to be called by their first name, they'll let you know and take no offense.
  • dewdrop87dewdrop87 Posts: 3,397Registered User Senior Member
    When you meet your interviewer...if they're young...just ask them if it's ok that you refer to them by their first name...if they're cool with it...then you can also address them like that in your thank you note :-)

    chill out!!! :-P
  • NorthstarmomNorthstarmom Posts: 24,853Registered User Senior Member
    It is always best to use a title -- Mr., Ms., Dr. -- in an interview situation unless the interviewer specifically asks you to use their first name.

    Don't assume that if they appear to be young, they will be comfortable with you calling them by their first name. For all you know, they may be a formal person, and they also may be much older than they look. For instance, one of my former Harvard roommates got carded when she was 35.

    I thought that a new acquaintance was in her late 20s. It ended up that she was a law professor (and a Yale and Stanford grad) who was about 40.

    When sending a thank-you note (which you always should do since they did you a favor by spending time interviewing you), if you're not sure whether they'd prefer to be called by their first or last name, you can always address them by both: "Dear Jane Doe".
  • asdfjkl1asdfjkl1 Posts: 1,950Registered User Senior Member
    Well, I found that if you address them as "(first name)" during the interview, it's acceptance to just write "Dear first name." But, otherwise, it is NOT okay to assume just because someone is young, you can disrespect them like that. What if you didn't know better--and that person had a doctorate? If you called them "Jane" instead of "Dr. Doe." They might feel disrespected and that might really hurt you.

    Do it on an individual basis. Not, a general basis. Be courteous at all times.
  • BigO999BigO999 Posts: 81Registered User Junior Member
    ALWAYS MR, DR, OR MS. Don't make the mistake of using first names, regardless of perceived age or your relationship with adults in school or your community. DO NOT USE MRS.UNLESS YOU SAY "MS." AND ARE CORRECTED.
  • GoldShadowGoldShadow Posts: 6,160Registered User Senior Member
    I second what NSM and BigO999 said. Never ever use first name unless they tell you to.
  • JTKayJTKay Posts: 132Registered User Junior Member
    You could just politely ask at the beginning, "What may I address you by?"

    I've only had two interviews so far, but in both cases the interviewers never gave me their last names, only their first, and when I met up with them and shook hands they both used their first names in greeting me. So depends on the circumstances... if you know it's John Smith but he says "Hey, what's up, I'm John, thanks for coming out to see me" then don't reply with "Mr. Smith". It sounds like you're correcting him for his salutation choice.

    Otherwise, follow everyone else's advice (if they don't indicate anything or don't introduce themselves with just their first names): Go with Ms/Mr/Dr until they tell you otherwise.
  • Bowler HatBowler Hat Posts: 231Registered User Junior Member
    I called my interviewer "dude".
  • deutschdeutsch Posts: 577Registered User Member
    haha bowler are you serious?
  • Bowler HatBowler Hat Posts: 231Registered User Junior Member
    Yea. And I smoked throughout the duration of the entire interview. Turns out she was a smoker as well, and when she asked for a cigarette I was forced to confess the terrible truth:

    That was no cigarette...


    ...dude.
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