Advice On How To Approach Your Interview by Stu Schmill '86
Advice on how to approach your interview.
Please note that, as of August 2018, our process for assigning interviews has changed (though Stu’s advice on how to prepare for it remains accurate). A description of the current interview process is posted here.
Today I am going to offer my advice on how to approach the interview.
First, it is your responsibility to arrange the interview. You should check your MyMIT account to see who your interviewer is and give him or her a call or write him or her an email. You should do this, not one of your parents. While we appreciate that your parents want to help, they should limit themselves to nagging you to do it, and not do it for you (this applies to other elements of your application as well).
Note: If we don’t have any alumni in your area and your interview is waived, and you are going to be visiting Cambridge sometime this fall, let the Educational Council office know at [email protected] and we can connect you with an Educational Counselor (EC) when you are here. If your interview was waived and you are not planning on visiting campus, you can check the site periodically as we do sometimes recruit new ECs through the year who might be able to accommodate your interview.
Here are my suggestions on how to prepare for the interview:
- Review the ways in which you spend your time. What do you enjoy doing most? Inside or outside of school.
- Think about why you like to do these activities. What is it about them? The people, the subject, the process, etc.
- Remember that the alums will not have seen any part of your application and are not interested in your grades, test scores, etc. They want to learn about you as a person. This is your chance to tell us things that go beyond the application and what you can tell us in the essays.
- Think about why you are applying to MIT. Do a little research on the web, and think of some questions to ask. Remember that the interview is not only a way for us to get to know you better, but also a way for you to get to know us better.
- Show up on time.
- Relax. Remember, there is no way to “fail.” The interview is simply a chance to talk about what interests you and the things you like to do. And remember, all our alumni went through the interview when they were in high school and they are very nice people. They are looking to help enhance your application. Last year 19% of interviewed applicants were admitted to MIT while only 7% of those who did not have their interview were admitted. This is not because we penalized students who did not interview; rather it’s because the interview can add a useful, additional dimension to your application. (If your interview was waived, don’t worry; we removed applicants with waived interviews before compiling those statistics.)
- Send a short thank you note after the interview. This is not at all expected as part of the admissions process – we will have no knowledge of your having done this, and it will have no bearing on your application or the report that the EC writes. But it is the nice thing to do. (Email is okay, but a short, handwritten note is nicer.)