Interview

<p>How important is the interview? I'm almost sure that I will mess it up-- my speaking skills aren't great and I'm not good at making conversations.</p>

<p>i think harvard is the school that gives interviews the most weight isnt it?</p>

<p>I know for a fact that one of the main reasons I got into Harvard last year was my interview.</p>

<p>I am an alumni interviewer for Brown. Your interview is not a major thing in the Brown admission process. After all, your teacher has seen you up close for a whole school year, while I have seen you for maybe one hour... the teacher's rec would obviously have much greater weight than mine. </p>

<p>For Brown interviews, we are really there to <em>be</em> interviewed as much as we are there to interview the students. Our job is to find out more about who they are & what makes them tick and to answer their questions about Brown. We are there to be the personal link in an impersonal process.</p>

<p>I believe the interview can be moderately helpful: confirming the impression of a candidate that the admission office already has from the application, or conveying qualities that may not come across so well on paper, like wit, poise, maturity. I sincerely doubt that a great interview can turn a rejection into an acceptance. However, a horrible interview might raise questions in admission. For example, if someone is very inarticulate, you might have to wonder where they came up with their great essay... If someone knows abosolutely nothing about the college, clearly it is not very high on his or her list.</p>

<p>Sometimes information comes out in the interview that the applicant should have communicated but did not, so I can fill in the blanks a bit. Sometimes the applicant needs a contact person, once they have been admitted, in order to answer the questions that come up when deciding between schools or to help get them connected with the appropriate expert in the college. I can do that too.</p>

<p>Look at the interview as a chance to be a three dimensional being in this paper & stat-heavy process, to have a good rollicking conversation with someone intelligent who probably loves their alma mater (or they wouldn't be doing interviews!), to get a better understanding of the subtle differences that make this college unique, and to show aspects of yourself not obvious on paper. It can be your tiny window into the institution and the intstitution's tiny window into you. </p>

<p>If you happened to sit down next to an alum on a plane or train, you'd probably have a pretty similar conversation.</p>

<p>SBmom, I'm worried about the fact that, although I do things like Model UN and Law Team, I'm not a great speaker. As you said, that might raise doubts as to how I do in Model UN and Law Team. At Model UN, I have time to think before I speak. At Law Team, I memorize a script. In both cases, I usually familiarize myself with what I am going to say before I speak, and so it comes out decently. However, when I'm nervous, I sometimes scramble or choke on my words, and I sound like I don't know what I'm saying. I don't know what I'm going to do if the interviewer asks me what my speaking skills are so awful....</p>

<p>Also, how can I converse with the interviewer naturally but in a way that is sincere? It is hard for me to find common ground with someone I don't know. I have academic interests and I enjoy playing the piano, but I'm not too interested in things like sports, which is something that people frequently talk about. Moreover, in comparison to other people applying to Harvard my accomplishments are nothing. I do a lot of extracurriculars, but I am definately not the best at the things I do. So, speaking to me about my extracurricular stuff will be boring also.</p>

<p>Also, how long are (Harvard) interviews, generally?</p>

<p>Harvard interviews are usually about the same length as any other college interview --> roughly an hour. As a rule of thumb the longer the better, because that means the interviewer found a lot to talk to you about and perhaps even thought you were interesting. If you don't open up and just give a lot of one word answers the interview will be disappointingly short.</p>

<p>I am a Harvard alumni interviewer. Don't make assumptions based on how long the interview lasts. One time I went way over the one-hour I had planned. I did that because the student was so quiet and monosyllabic that I kept thinking that I must be doing something wrong. I kept trying new subjects, and the student kept giving one-word answers. </p>

<p>The Harvard interview should be about you. Be open and willing to talk about yourself -- your background, your intellectual passions, interesting experiences, your questions about Harvard (particularly questions related to what it's like to be a student at or alumni of Harvard. Those tend to be the questions that alumni interviewers answer best. We typically do not know the answer to obscure questions about specific college majors.)</p>

<p>Remember, the interview is a conversation, not an inquisition.</p>

<p>What happens at the interview? I mean, do you enter some room and the interviewer is sitting there ready for you? Who is supposed to speak first, me or the interviewer? After I sit down, does the interviewer immediately ask me a question or does he/she ease into it by asking me background info? How do you know the interview is over? Does the interviewer just abruptly say: "OK, time is up?" or does it occur when you have nothing left to say? What happens if you don't have much to say? Do you just sit there in awkward silence or wait for the interviewer to ask the next question?</p>

<p>Sorry for all these questions-- knowing myself, I need all the help I can get.</p>

<p>Collegeperson,</p>

<p>I second what Northstarmom wrote. </p>

<p>It is probably true that the interview favors extroverted conversationalists, because it plays to their strengths. But don't worry. The interviewer will want to draw you out and have a conversation about you-- your interests and passions-- not force you to talk about a topic of their choosing. </p>

<p>I would prepare for your interview by thinking about what things really excite you (ideas, politics, fun things, academic subjects, travel.. whatever) and zero in on a few qualities that make you YOU. What are the things you most enjoy doing, where do you see yourself now and in ten years? What do you care about above all else? You don't have to talk about any of this but maybe by thinking about it you will have some idea of subjects that would be interesting & relevant to you and thus easy to talk about.</p>

<p>If you are somewhat shy or introverted, turn this 'flaw' into an asset. Think: how can you talk about shyness in an insightful way? What has your shyness allowed you to do, understand, observe, or care about that someone with a bolder personality type may have missed? </p>

<p>You say you like to think before you speak-- this is a good quality! So just imagine the interviewer will ask, "Tell me about yourself, who are you , what do you like & what makes you tick?" (Every interview is some version of this.) Think about your answers now, and by your interview you will be prepared and do fine.</p>

<p>BTW, I have had memorable conversations about topics ranging from cheerleading, to Thailand, to backpacking, to photojournalism, to the band REM-- none of which were brought up by me! Remember: most interviewers <em>want</em> to like you and have insightful things to write about you on their report. Good Luck!!</p>

<p>collegeperson...you're not alone..i have some of the same worries as you do...i am also into a lot of speaking and stuff but i'm scared about the interview...i mean what if i feel passionately about something but when i tell the interviewer about it...it sounds like i've prepared the response beforehand...actually that's my biggest fear...not sounding natural...!!!...</p>

<p>Northstarmom, I was reading some of your past posts on interviews. In one post, you said that one of your two most abominable interviews involved an applicant with little social skills and the other one had poor conversational skills (burst out crying). Do you know where I can find information on proper social and conversational skills? I'm not exactly the most social person and I usually struggle to hold a conversation, especially when it involves something that I am not interested in or something that I have little to talk about. I know that what I am saying sounds pretty pathetic, but I don't want the interviewer to perceive me as someone who is so shy, he can't even hold a conversation or do basic things like saying "hi" or smiling when appropriate. What are some dos and don'ts for interviews?</p>

<p>OK-- interview crisis: I never signed up for an interview! It wasn't on either the common application nor the Harvard supplement. Where do you sign up?</p>

<p>You don't need to sign up for the interview. After you submit your application Harvard will turn your name over the the local almuni organization, and they will contact you to arrange an interview.</p>

<p>I sent my application in on October 30th. When do you guys think my interview will be?</p>

<p>One's library, bookstore or on-line sites have plenty of information about how to hold conversations, including how to handle interviews.</p>

<p>If one hasn't had interviews before, it's also a good idea to practice with friends or relatives. </p>

<p>IMO, the worst thing that one can do in a college interview is to be so afraid of saying the wrong thing that one says nothing.</p>

<p>Thanks! Northstarmom, are you still doing interviews? It would be pretty weird if you turned out to be my interviewer.</p>

<p>Yes, I still do interviews. And one time I did interview someone from CC. I don't think that the student realized that they had first met me here. </p>

<p>And, in answer to your unanswered question, I will not say where I live. :)</p>

<p>Can someone who has either already done their Harvard interview or is a Harvard interviewer tell me what the general flow of the interview was? (e.g. who talked first? what was the first thing that you talked about? how long did you talk about each topic? etc)</p>

<p>Would it be polite to arrive 5 minutes early to the interviewer's house?</p>