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Why do interviewers ask where else you applied?

StudyStudyStudyStudyStudyStudy Registered User Posts: 47 Junior Member
edited January 2010 in Harvard University
Why do interviewers ask where else you applied? Can they cross-reference it or something? Surely they couldn't know for sure whether or not you were lying, right? So why bother asking?
Post edited by StudyStudyStudy on

Replies to: Why do interviewers ask where else you applied?

  • mifunemifune Registered User Posts: 2,761 Senior Member
    I believe they simply ask this out of curiosity. Also, if this comes from an HYP interviewer, they may be hoping that you did not "place all your eggs in one basket."
  • WindCloudUltraWindCloudUltra Registered User Posts: 1,761 Senior Member
    ^^That's pretty much it. I generally don't ask, but I do do my part to try to sell my alma mater to my interviewees and I can see how another knowing the other schools you're applying to can help in that endeavor--esp. if the list includes Yale. It's pretty easy to trash Yale. (But Yalies should feel free to do the opposite...)

    They can't (or shouldn't) hold it against you. Any sane person who is applying to Harvard is also likely to be applying to a similar group of schools--i.e. Yale, Stanford, Columbia, MIT, Williams etc. in addition to a few local schools. I would be positively surprised if most applicants didn't. I certainly did.
  • MillancadMillancad Registered User Posts: 5,941 Senior Member
    Only one of my interviewers asked me and the way it came from her I couldn't really tell why she asked, since her questions were generally somewhat different. But it can give an idea of what a student is looking for, depending on what they list and the common attributes of those colleges.
  • DMOCDMOC Registered User Posts: 1,442 Senior Member
    I didn't tell my interviewer that I was also applying to Princeton. :)
  • NorthstarmomNorthstarmom Registered User Posts: 24,853 Senior Member
    Harvard asks its interviewers not to ask that question. Considering that Harvard has the highest yield in the country, even if their interviewers ask the question, I doubt that Harvard cares about your answer.

    When I have interviewed, I haven't asked the question, but to my surprise many of the interviewees have volunteered the answer. Their answers didn't affect my interview reports, however.
  • Anonymous93Anonymous93 Registered User Posts: 1,355 Senior Member
    @Northstarmom, in the Harvard Interview Questionaire, they ask that.

    Like, they ask for stats/extracurriculars/why Harvard/and what other colleges we apply to. I think that's what the OP was referencing?
  • Tres ElefantesTres Elefantes Registered User Posts: 858 Member
    mine didn't ask. of that i am thankful. although s/he did ask me about yale... :p
  • MD MomMD Mom Registered User Posts: 6,728 Senior Member
    I don't know whether this is true for admissions interviews, but a professor asked my daughter that question and then told her the differences among the programs. It was quite helpful.
  • NorthstarmomNorthstarmom Registered User Posts: 24,853 Senior Member
    "@Northstarmom, in the Harvard Interview Questionaire, they ask that."

    What questionnaire? Is this something from the local alumni organization or does Harvard admissions send it?
  • Anonymous93Anonymous93 Registered User Posts: 1,355 Senior Member
    The local alumni organization sent it, but it's not just in my area. I know of some people in CA (I live in MO) who also got it. And MN. Apparently it's not something that Harvard does then?

    I know you use to interview, so I'm sure you're right.
  • Tres ElefantesTres Elefantes Registered User Posts: 858 Member
    i didn't get one and i'm from wisconsin. so yeah, must be some places only.
  • christiansoldierchristiansoldier Registered User Posts: 1,342 Senior Member
    I can confirm that they use that sheet in my area.
  • TheAscendancyTheAscendancy Registered User Posts: 481 Member
    What would they do with information like that? I mean, sure, it might give a better idea of the applicant, but aren't there better questions to be asking? Mine actually wrote down what I said, so I imagine it's not just something she'll just gloss over. Yet, I'll hazard to say there's no way she can verify it (dunno if this is true or not). Plus she didn't say much about the other schools I've applied to. Just kinda listed them and moved on.
  • HannaHanna Registered User Posts: 14,241 Senior Member
    One reason interviewers might ask -- and one reason I have done so now and then, despite the instruction not to -- is to figure out whether you're getting good advice. Some students have crummy high school counselors and nobody to tell them about safety schools, etc. So I've asked kids who went to inner-city public schools, and who didn't seem that well informed, where else they applied in order to make sure that they're applying to a range of schools. If they answered "Harvard, Yale, and Princeton," then I would say, "You might consider adding Illinois to that list, and it's not too late to apply." That has never happened, though.

    If your interviewer wrote the schools down, it was probably so that she could give you a better "pitch," selling Harvard more effectively. If your other schools are Harvey Mudd, Carnegie Mellon, RPI, and Caltech, knowing that allows her to say, "These are the benefits of doing engineering at a liberal arts school."

    The only negative angle I could possibly take on a student's answer is that I might conclude they haven't given much thought to the process. If the answer were "Harvard, Southeast Oklahoma State, Rhode Island School of Design, and Pensacola Christian," I would think, "This kid is just shooting at random." But that's never happened, either.
  • vonlostvonlost Super Moderator Posts: 24,098 Super Moderator
    ^ Agree with Hanna, and incongruous answers can be an indicator of a bad fit. They can also lead an interviewer to good follow-up questions.
This discussion has been closed.