Interviewer seemed uninterested and cut interview short

I’ve just had my interview, and I don’t think it went well. For starters, the interview was at 8 pm, which struck me as odd as all my other friends and classmates had theirs earlier at around 4 or 5 pm. I was ready beforehand, and at around 8:02 when the interviewer showed up, he started with telling me that the interview basically had no influence on my admission and that there wasn’t anything either of us could really do. Regardless of this, I was very enthusiastic and was able to answer all of his questions, but I felt I had to carry the conversation as he wasn’t really asking anything and I also noticed that he seemed to only write about 3 things down, which was discouraging. When I asked a question about the interdisciplinary research at MIT, he said it was something I didn’t have to worry about because professors wouldn’t really have use for someone going into college, as they would jut be “an annoying kid” that “gets in the way”. After this, he brought up the influence thing again, and then said it was more luck than people want to admit, which I understand might be true but isn’t really something he should be telling his interviewees. My parents seem to think that my being a minority played a part in this, but I’m unsure what to think. Should I try contacting MIT? It might not be a big deal but it was really discouraging and I can’t see someone like that being a person MIT wants representing them.

Also would like to mention, interview only lasted 20 minutes


Wow, so sorry that this happened to you. I do think that you should call the admissions office and tell them what happened. I don’t know whether MIT uses the interviews in the admissions process, but you’re right - they should know what your experience was.


I think it might be a good idea to contact MIT and give feedback but I also think it is important for you to reflect on what this interview was meant to achieve. I also think it is important to put certain things into perspective.

If the 8pm time didn’t work for you, you could have asked for a different time or different interviewer. Take this as lesson learned, the time should work for both you and the interviewer.

How much time did you expect the interview to take? I would assume an alum interview conducted virtually would be 20-30 minutes depending on how many questions both of you had, and how well the interview gelled. An interview going past 30 minutes often shows the two people enjoyed the conversation they were having…or don’t know how to end a conversation.

Worrying about what the interviewer was writing down (and worrying he only wrote 3 things down) is irrelevant. If he wrote the whole time you were talking…would you feel better about the interview? What if you then found out he was writing a grocery list? See what I mean when I say how much he wrote and how often is meaningless?

Your interviewer is correct that alumni interviews don’t ‘count’ towards admission. Most of these interviews are really for informational purposes. Did you come to the interview with questions for the person interviewing you? Were they questions that couldn’t be answered on the MIT website but could be answered by an alum? How many questions did you have to ask him? And did you have questions that weren’t answered before the interview ended? Or did he run out of questions to ask you…and finished up?

I hope I am wrong in how I am reading your OP, and you didn’t expect this alum to do all the work or have an hours’ worth of questions to ask you.

It can be a bummer to not have the experience you hoped for with an alum interview…but it is up to you to decide whether there are things you can learned from this experience to make the next interview you have better. And it is up to you to decide whether this reflects on MIT…or an individual.

Good luck going forward.

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Have you considered that after a long day the interviewer may have let their guard down and presented the situation in frank and candid terms? You might look at it as a positive that the interviewer felt comfortable enough with you to be completely transparent.


I wouldn’t contact MIT about the interview, at least not before admissions results are out. You haven’t indicated anything offensive or particularly alarming involved with the interview or the interviewer. Good luck.


This probably didn’t affect your chances for admission. I suppose you could request a second interview but not needed.

I would write down the account of the interview and send it to admissions, but after acceptances are sent out. Whether you get in or not, admissions should know about how this person is conducting interviews, in my view.


Perspective can matter so much- as can expectations and understanding the process.

Most of the facts, as you have presented them, are completely normal:

  • Start time: there is no ‘typical’ start time, and there was nothing ‘odd’ about 8pm. The interviewers are alums who volunteer their time, and there is no expectation that they will do it at any given time.

  • It is true that alumni interviews have no real influence on admissions decisions: they are an opportunity for you to learn about what MIT is like. Telling you that right at the beginning of the interview is meant to help you relax, and not be anxious about trying to impress or be perfect, so that you can ask real questions without being afraid that it will hurt your admissions chances.

*20 minutes is a very typical time. Sometimes they run longer, but not a lot. Remember: this is a volunteer. It’s now 8:20. They may have 2 more students to call that night. They may have child who needs to be put to bed. It does not mean that the interviewer didn’t like you, and it will not negatively affect the admissions decision.

It sounds as though you approached this interview as if it would make a difference in the admissions decision, rather than an opportunity for you to ask him about what MIT is like. His questions were to help you open up and get a conversation started, not a quiz for which there were right/wrong or good/bad answers. There isn’t much of a need for note-taking, as the report is fairly simple: again, it’s not a matter of his writing down all the brilliant things you said to impress the AOs.

Given how normal all of this sounds from here, I think your fear that the interview will hurt your admissions chances, or your parents worry that you were given short shrift because you are a minority, seems unlikely- particularly at MIT.

Having said all that, there is one flag in your description that I wonder about: the dismissiveness of interdisciplinary research for students. Without knowing your question it’s hard to be sure what he was talking about, but the idea that MIT profs would see enrolled students as “an annoying kid” who “gets in the way” flies in the face of everything I know about MIT (not to mention UROP [Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program]). Were you perhaps asking about high school students doing research at MIT? Otherwise I don’t get it (and even then MIT does have several programs for HS students).


For those saying that the interview does not matter at MIT, the common data set says that the interview is “important.” By contrast, at Yale, it is just “considered.”

That said, I don’t think a lackluster interview with sink an application if the rest is strong—especially if all of the write-ups this alumnus does are lackluster.

As others have said, the alumni doing these interviews are volunteers. And admissions is aware that that may mean the quality varies.

I am sorry the experience was negative for you. This interviewer sounds like he may be a bitter person. In general, I say to respect the time of volunteers, but if this is an accurate representation of the interview, I wonder why this person bothers volunteering their time for a school they don’t seem to really love.

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Here is MIT’s section of the CDS:

And here is the same section from Yale:


I wonder if they interviewed Sam Bankman-Fried or Sam Brinton? Hmmm.

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Probably has more to do with the name Sam than MIT.

It really sounds like the interviewer was tired of interviewing. Not just for the day but in general. Many interviewers seem to feel this way after interviewing dozens to hundreds of kids, and seemingly having their recommendations ignored. I mean, imagine interviewing 300 applicants over 10 years, and not having a single one of the applicants that you recommended by accepted.

However, that doesn’t make it right for the interviewer to, essentially, take their frustrations out on you. It was not OK for the interviewer to behave like that, and you really should contact MIT about it.

First, the interviewer is an alumnus, and really does not know this. He was an undergraduate, taking classes.

Moreover, the interviewer is 100% wrong about the attitudes towards undergraduates who are interested in pursuing topics beyond what is taught in class. There is no faculty member in the world who would not be overjoyed to speak to an undergraduate with research interests that go beyond the classroom.

The interviewer is more likely to be expressing their own insecurities from their time at MIT than the reality. In fact, I can tell you, categorically, that the interviewer did not actually know what they were talking about.

My wife, who runs an interdisciplinary Institute at a major university, is collaborating with an engineering professor from MIT on an interdisciplinary engineering/CS/animal behavior/conservation biology project. This project has engaged (so far) about half a dozen undergraduates from MIT. Every one of them is interested in interdisciplinary topics and got into the project (which included travel to Africa) by reaching out to the professor and asking about such projects.

My wife has a number of other interdisciplinary projects with MIT faculty, as well.

Moreover, there is no faculty that I know who will think that an undergraduate who wants to talk about interdisciplinary research is “annoying”. In the very worst case scenario, a more conservative (academically) professor will try and convince you that interdisciplinary research is not the best way to go, and will try to recruit you to their own way of thinking.

That being said, MIT is probably not the best place for interdisciplinary stuff, because there aren’t that many truly interdisciplinary faculty members. CMU has more opportunities in that.


You said you were prepared, enthusiastic and answered all his questions. In the end, I would assume that was his impression of you, and that matters more than your impression of him. I’d let it go at that. Good job and good luck!


The CDS can provide useful information, but it also needs to be taken with a grain of salt. To use Yale as an example, the CDS says the interview carries the same weight as URM status when it comes to admissions. That ain’t true.


I do agree. But I wouldn’t say that the interview has no weight at MIT.

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Perhaps, it’s more accurate to say it has very little weight. It can occasionally sink a candidate if there are glaring red flags from the interview, but alumni interviewers that I know personally have found no correlation between their recommendations and admission decisions.

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I think there is an issue here with the admissions rate being so very low that you can’t really extrapolate. MIT grads should know better :joy:.

I interviewed for Yale and they walked us through the process. What you say is fairly accurate for Yale. An interview is mostly useful for inconsistent or borderline cases. But occasionally can prompt a second look.

At the same time, I do believe MIT when it says it puts a greater emphasis on the interview than Yale.

MIT has repeatedly told us they are looking for kids who are not only brilliant (as most of their applicant pool is) but also who work well in a collaborative environment, who are committed to their community, who are compassionate, who value the humanities in addition to their STEM passion.

I empathize with the alumni who interview—there have been a couple who did not get in to my great surprise. But we do not know a kid’s grades and scores—just how they present themselves in the interview. And the admit rate is so extremely low that of course highly qualified, amazing kids will be denied.

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I disagree totally that this is something that should be reported to MIT, and under no circumstances should you even mention it, IMO. There is no chance that reporting this is going to help your app and in fact, this makes you seem a bit insecure.

You had a short, uninteresting interview with an alumni interviewer and you felt it didn’t go well. What’s reportable about that? You’re reading far more into it than you should. Save reporting people for truly unacceptable, inappropriate and offensive comments, not for “I’m worried that I didn’t have a good interview.”


It’s actually rare to not get burned out being an alumni interviewer. Both my husband and I did it for several years, but it’s so, so tough to meet all these fantastic amazing students and none of them get in. While I certainly believe MIT that they weigh interviews, they also weigh test scores and a 1600 or 36 and being rejected is the norm. I don’t believe any of the kids we interviewed ever received an acceptance - even if we raved about them. It’s just not that fun after a while.