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MIT staff blogger Kim Hunter '86

The Interview…Part 1 by Kim Hunter '86

ECs are some of my favorite people in the world and you'll like them too.

Please note that, as of August 2018, our process for assigning interviews has changed (though Kim’s observations on the interview and our interviewers remain helpful). A description of the current interview process is posted here

For me, Educational Counselors or ECs are a special group of people. They are my colleagues, classmates, college roommates and lab partners, and many are good friends. They are engineers, scientists, musicians and everything in between. Some are teachers, teaching in schools not far from yours while others are in school as students themselves.

They are also teachers of a type when they talk to each of you during your interview. I say that NOT because I have provided them with a test that I want each of them to give when they do an interview. I just don’t do that! The interview isn’t anything like a test. But each EC can be something like a teacher when you talk to them. And this is how…

I know each of you is looking to find colleges where you feel you can spend the next four years. Your EC will be able to help you with lots of the questions you have about why MIT could be a good choice for you. They are experts in what being a student at MIT is really like because they’ve already done it and they love to talk about what made their MIT experience memorable and why it was ultimately their choice. They experienced it all: the problem sets, living in the dorms, fraternities and sororities, discovered Boston and walked the “infinite” corridor and the steam tunnels. They’ve been athletes, run organizations, performed in musical groups and some have taken part in a hack (or two or three). Ask about their experiences and I know you’ll learn something about this place that you don’t already know.

But, they are students too as they are at the interview to learn from you and not information they could learn in any classroom. They will ask you lots of questions about what you like and what you dislike, what you do in your free time or if you have any free time at all. They will ask about projects you’ve done or groups you’ve belonged to and what that group did and, most importantly, how you helped. They want to learn about you and you get to teach them about what makes you different and special.

Meeting with an EC can be a lot of fun. I’ve heard great stories from students who said that talking with their EC was when they realized that MIT was a place they’d like to be. Some students keep in touch with their ECs while they are at MIT and continue in the role of teacher when they tell their ECs about the experiences they are having on campus. The ECs appreciate it because while they like being the teacher they still enjoy the experience of being the student as well.

I know that all the various deadlines seem to be coming up way to fast. Sadly, that’s just part of the process. For those of you who are applying Early Action, this is really good time to get in touch with your EC to set up an interview. The deadline to set up the interview is October 20 but it’s really best to have completed the interview by then. When the interview is over, your EC will send us a report and that report is due November 1–just like your application. So…consider this my gentle nudge to get in touch with your EC and set up your interview sooner rather than later.

I’d love to hear what kind of questions you all have about the interview. Let me know and I’ll do my best to address them all. There are no stupid questions…if just one person asks a question, there are lots of others out there afraid to ask the very same one.

42 responses to “The Interview…Part 1”

  1. Anonymous says:

    just what, exactly, would an EC write in the report after the interview? an overall impression? and how much does it really count in the entire application?

  2. Ivan says:

    What is special admissions? (on the door)

    If I have a family member who graduated from MIT can he be an EC and interview me?

    Who works with international admissions at MIT?

    Thanks in advance

  3. Anonymous says:

    Given that most applicants have great stats, how valuable is the interview to the admissions process? Is it informational or truly evaluative at MIT? Will a great interview report make up for a less than stellar set of essays?

  4. Fatimah says:

    Which countries have ECs in them?

  5. Brenda says:

    Hi – I started my application and marked it as early action…that was a mistake – I still have to take the SAT Subject tests – can I change my application to be regular?? Thank you!!

  6. Ivan says:

    @Kim Thanks for such a quick reply

    I would like to learn more about the EC interviews in your next posts.

    I’m not sure where to ask this:

    Does MIT send Viewbooks/Brochures? If so what is the link to add myself to the list?

    Thanks in advance

  7. Kim '86 says:

    @ Anonymous (X 2): These are great topics for another post–thanks

    @ Ivan: “Special Admissions” are for students who are coming in for a short period for a few classes. If I wanted to take a class at MIT I would need to apply as a special student.

    I would not recommend that a family member interview you and of course your parent may not interview you even if they are an EC. I don’t recommend that students have interviews with people they already know to begin with and I’ll discuss that more fully in an upcoming post.

    In terms of reading and selection we all work with international admissions although one person is charged with overseeing the process.

  8. Gillian says:

    I have my interview today and I am so excited!

  9. Hi,
    I’d already scheduled an interview with my EC, but just a couple of days back I saw that my EC has been changed. So can the earlier EC be reassigned again? (I’ve emailed the admissions office).

  10. Kim '86 says:

    @ Brenda: Anon’s advice is correct. But if you still want to change from EA to RA just give us a call in admissions.

    @ Ivan: Signing up for a account makes certain that you get our publications.

    @ Fatimah: It’s really more a question of which countries do not have an EC of which there are very few. We’ll do our best to match everyone up with someone and although we prefer face to face interviews will on occasion get more creative. If you sign up for a account and are not assigned an EC just drop us a note at [email protected] and we’ll do our best to get you assigned to someone.

    @ Gillian: I’m thrilled to hear that…have fun!

    @ Gaurav Ragtah: I think I’ve fixed it already. If it’s still wrong, send a message to [email protected] and we’ll get it sorted out.

  11. faizaafatima says:

    i would like to know whether it would be alright to schedule the interview rightaway or contact my EC beforehand in a series of emails…..I’m still not sure what to do
    as a regular decision applicant, can I contact my EC after my SAT?

  12. anon says:

    @ Brenda

    According to the MIT application site about testing dates, you can still take the November subject tests for early action. You have until Sept. 26 to sign up for those tests according to College Board. Here is the link telling you when to take which tests:

    Otherwise you should just be able to call admissions to change it. I, however, would recommend applying early if you are going to be able to test in November. If after taking the tests, you feel that you were not as prepared as you could have been and you do not think you were even close to the 700 mark, you can retake them in December or even in January (in case you are deferred to regular action) and submit those scores. If you think you are going to be within the 700 – 800 range, do not retake them to increase your score from say a 730 to a 770. It does not make any difference to the admissions committee. There is a great difference in knowing in December (if you are admitted and not deferred) or waiting until spring. If, however, you don’t have the time or you are not going to be prepared for the November subject tests, simply wait and test in December or January when you are ready. Good Luck!! And remember, test scores are only a portion of the application. Everything else is just as important. Do not skip any “optional” essays and make sure to schedule an interview with an EC (if available in your area) ASAP.

  13. Ashwathi says:

    I’m gonna have my interview pretty soon and I’m really really excited…not only because i can derive “vicarious pleasure” *evil grin* by listening to the EC talk about MIT(which he hopefully will) but also because it’s part of my journey to get into MIT *sighs*


  14. I had my interview just a few days back. It was a great experience and my EC helped a lot in understanding what MIT actually is. Its an experience of a lifetime.

    All of you who are about to have the Interview…Just be cool and calm.. Its just going to be about YOU. You just need to know about yourself to do it well.

    This is for Kim…Madam how do I know if I did well or if I was OK in my interview. I understand it sounds crazy asking this…especially after I telling what to do.

    But what exactly is the evaluation process. Please throw some light on that.


  15. Is it possible to apply early action to MIT if you have been living in Massachusetts for six years but are a Canadian Citizen?

    Please note that MIT’s Early Action program is available only to citizens and permanent residents of the United States.

    I’ve asked around and everyone says probably no but the above quote from this sites early action page says and permanent residents. Am I a permanent resident? Can I apply early Action?

  16. saiful says:

    My Dean of Faculty Engineering is an EC.. Right now i’m going to show him that i deserve to transfer to MIT. Wish me luck kim!

  17. Ahana says:

    I wanted to ask if I can change my EC to anyone else available. Actually an alumna of my school had an interview with my current EC, and unfortunately she didn’t have a good one. So I’m getting apprehensive about it.

  18. Kim '86 says:

    @faizaafatima: Contacting your EC has nothing to do with taking your SATs. If you are going to have an interview it is better to contact your EC sooner than later to set it up. If you are applying RA you’ll want to have done your interview by December 10, so plan accordingly.

    @obesechicken13: What “everyone” says is correct. Permanent residents are those with green cards. If you are a Canadian citizen you are still an international student, no matter how long you’ve lived in Massachusetts.

    @ Sharath Chandra: If you felt it was a great experience you don’t have anything to worry about. I’ll talk more about the evaluation process in an upcoming post.

    @Ahana: I wouldn’t pre-judge that your interview will be difficult or bad because an alumna from your school felt she didn’t have a good interview with a particular EC. Several students called me last year to talk about an interview they felt was “bad”. I followed up on the reports that came back for each one and every time the EC had only very good things to say about the student. What I find in a case like that is that the applicant’s perception is very different from the truth. Please go into your interview knowing that it will go well and you’ll be fine. Just be yourself and enjoy it and you won’t have anything to worry about.

  19. EC reports are very important ladies and gentlemen, try to schedule an appointment as soon as possible.

    That is all. George clooney.

  20. Sehreen says:

    I would like to know if September is too early for contacting my EC???..since im not applying for early action..and the deadline for the interviews is Dec 10th..also, do i need to take a copy of my application, high school transcripts and school reports along for the interview??

  21. @Kim : Yes, thanks! It’s fixed now smile

  22. Brenda says:

    Just wanted to say thank you to all that replied. I feel better now smile.

  23. Monorina says:

    My EC is really nice.I got all worked up when I called him for the first time;but he made me confortable.
    I have a question:My school does not have a counselor.What do I do?Do I give the forms to my principal(head of the school)
    I’m intl.

  24. Monorina says:

    @Sehreen:I contacted my EC already.Called him up thrice,actually.

  25. JoshRoberts says:

    what would be an appropriate time for the interview? Personally, my mind is most active around 8-9 pm and that would really suit me.

  26. DeAnnA says:

    Welcome, Kim!

    We EC’s are just as excited as the prospective students! I can hardly wait to hear from all of you on my list. We’re always happy to have e-mail (or phone) contact even before you are ready to schedule an interview. And, please, don’t stress about your SAT’s or whatever–most EC’s won’t even ask you about those numerical values (we just want to get to know you as a person). The only semi-quantitative question I ask my applicants is whether their grades and test scores are in the ballpark with the rest of the MIT applicant pool. The only reason I even ask that question is that, often, grades or scores that don’t reflect an applicant’s potential may be explained by circumstances (economic, medical, whatever) that should be taken into consideration.

  27. Reggie says:

    Is it appropriate to only contact one’s EC before the interview by e-mail, or is a phone call or two reccommended?

  28. Prayosha says:

    @ Kim I have question, which is not really related to interview process. It is about writing evaluation for teachers. In .. We are told to give this form to two teachers one should be from a math or science teacher and one should be from a humanities teacher. But when we are also asked to make Teacher Recommendation letter from once math or science course teacher and our guidance Counselor..

    I m confused in how many forms and letter do we submit while submitting application. In addition, if we have to submit these letters then on which address do we send it to!


  29. Kim '86 says:

    @Sehreen: September is not too early. And of course, early is way better than late grin

    @ JoshRoberts: While you may enjoy meeting an EC in the evening, please keep in mind that ECs all have jobs of some sort so evenings may not be ideal. Try and give them some choices of when you’re available keeping in mind they are volunteering for admissions on top of their work and family commitments.

    @DeAnnA: Thanks for the comment and chiming in!

    @Reggie: The ECs provide their preferred method on contact. It’s not necessary to have several contacts with them prior to the interview–just enough to set up the interview.

    @Prayosha: When you look at the application you’ll see forms for two teachers recommendations (one science or math and one humanities teacher) plus one guidance counselor which is what we request. The second link you indicate is designed to help teachers understand what we’re looking for in an evaluation.

  30. Mark says:

    Should we dress in a suit or something like that for the interview? Would it make a bad impression on the interviewer, for example suggest that I wasn’t “serious”, if I didn’t?

  31. Prayosha says:

    @ kim.. Thankx ! I get it what I need to do know. .Once again thank you for ur help..
    And i will be seeing u in Toronto soon!!
    Can’t wait smile

  32. Anonymous says:

    @ kim.. Thank you for ur help! I get it what I need to do know. .Once again thank you for ur help..
    And i will be seeing soon in Toronto!

    Can’t wait!!!!!!!!! smile

  33. Prayosha says:

    Please avoid the comment above!

  34. Joe says:


    I got my EC information (Mr. Shiu-Chung Au), and I want to call him up to set up an appointment. Before I do that, though, could you (or if anyone knows) tell me how to pronounce his name? I wouldn’t want to mispronounce it >[email protected]

    I got my EC information (Mr. Shiu-Chung Au), and I want to call him up to set up an appointment. Before I do that, though, could you (or if anyone knows) tell me how to pronounce his name? I wouldn’t want to mispronounce it >.<

  35. Eric '89 says:

    Joe: If you have an e-mail address for Mr. Au, you can try contacting him by e-mail and asking him how to pronounce his name. Alternatively, he might have an English nickname that you can use instead of his given name. It is unlikely that anybody other than Mr. Au or a member of his immediate family can tell you what the correct pronunciation of his name is: Chinese is a tonal language, and transliterations to English typically do not indicate what the tones should be.

    As an EC myself, I will point out that since making my e-mail address visible to potential interviewees a few years ago all of the students I have interviewed have arranged the interview by e-mail. So don’t be afraid to make an initial contact by e-mail. But if you do not get a reply within a day or two, follow up by phone; sometimes legitimate e-mail is trapped in spam filters.

  36. Alice'78 says:

    I’ve been interviewing for 28 years. The most important thing about applicant attire is that it is something you are comfortable in and that it’s clean. One applicant scheduled his interview with me right after his SAT’s, and chose to race home to put on jacket and tie, then race back to the interview. The jacket was too small and smelled of body odor, it was too heavy for the weather so he sweated profusely all through the interview, and in all his racing around he chose not to print out the directions I had emailed him but to rely on Mapquest so he was 35 minutes late. I’ve had applicants come directly from soccer or cross country practice, but they must have put on fresh shirts, because they didn’t smell. Coming directly from athletics said “I love my sport, it’s part of me.” As long as you don’t stink, your attire won’t get a negative reaction from me, but if it’s unusual it might be a topic of conversation.

  37. mark '71 says:

    i’ve been an EC for about 30 years and it’s one of the most exciting things i do (and i’ve been on stage performing with lenny bernstein!) it’s because of the wonderful and inspiring folks i meet; namely, you.

    as for dress – i only speak for myself, although it would not surprise me if other ECs felt similarly – it means absolutely nothing. it’s the person inside. dressing in a suit is fine, as are shorts or jeans. it’s what you have to say that matters. i don’t note your clothing in my report – when you finish your formal education, how you dressed during college or afterward has nothing to do with the contribution you make to humanity. (except in the operating room). i’m not kidding.

  38. Kim '86 says:

    Thanks to great ECs who chimed in while I am on the road!!

  39. Anonymous says:

    I just had my interview, and I want to send my EC a thank you note, but her address isn’t listed with her information. What should I do?

  40. Kim '86 says:

    @ Anonymous: An email thank you is totally appropriate in a case like this.

  41. Marco says:

    Hey, wow…lots of spam.

    I am applying early decision and and I first emailed my first EC, Mark Hurwich, but we didn’t have a chance to set up an interview because the next time I logged on to MyMIT, my EC had changed to Joseph P Diliberto III.

    I then emailed him, and gave him the information he asked for, but we never actually got to setting up a date for the interview (I was awaiting his reply).

    Now, I logged on to MyMIT again and my EC is now Mr. Matthew P. Monteleone. I really hope that it doesn’t change anymore or else I’ll end up never having an interview.

    I just wanted to post this here to see if anyone could extend me some advice on how I should deal with all these EC changes.

    A few extra questions that I couldn’t find a place to post in:
    > Are the secondary school report, the evaluations, and the mid-grade report supposed to be filled out and sent via MIT website or through print-outs and mail?
    > If so, how do my counselors and teachers filled them out via website?
    > If I apply for early decision and am deferred to R.A., will I be able to submit new SAT scores from Dec. and Jan.?

    Thanks in advance! wink

  42. angelawang says:

    I’m applying for EA this year since I am a permanent resident. However, I had only stayed in US for three months when I was in 9th grade and then went back to Taiwan and continued my studying till now.

    There are two questions:

    1. In Taiwan, students study in high school in grade 10th-12th, so do I have to mention that I have stayed in the US high school in the 9th grade? (It was just one period,and I don’t think that I have to note what I have done in the 9th grade since it was not part of my “high school” life.)

    2. Am I judged with the same criteria as students in US? I did not earn a 700 in my critical reading test and my writing test (and actually I did not do really well although I tried hard) I know that you consider TOEFL as well, but I just don’t feel like my grade is good enough.

    I really hope that a miracle will happen on me.