Thursday, January 31, 2008

Ivy League Interviews - What to Do

I am an interviewer for Princeton University.  They use their alumni network to reach out to students and get to understand the person behind the application.  I've stated before in my post on how to get into an Ivy League, that an interview won't make or break you.  It really is just one of those things that the admission council uses to confirm all the other things on your application.  That being said, it certainly wouldn't hurt you to do well in your interview and there are a few things you can do to have a bad one.  So here are some tips for your interview

  1.  Know why you want to go to the school - Yes, everyone wants to go to the best school, but why specifically the school you are interviewing with?  If you just want to be around smart people, you can go to any of the Ivy Leagues.  Know something about the school that is specific to it and would be great for you.  Do some reasearch, use the internet.  It isn't hard to come prepared.

  2. Have goals - You don't have to know what you want to do for the rest of your life, but you should have some idea about what you want to do and how attending the college of your choice can help you get there.

  3. Know why you stand out - Everyone has great grades and test scores.  Be able to articulate why you are different from the crowd.

  4. Talk with passion - people love to here othes talk with passion about the things they love.  If you love playing the oboe, show it!

  5. Demonstrate a strong desire to go to the school - Alumni who interview for their school feel very passionately about their school and have a lot of pride.  They do it strictly on a volunteer basis and it is often inconvenient for them.  They want to see people who will love their school as much as they do, so show some enthusiasm.

  6. Have a conversation - don't let it be one sided.  Ask lots of questions.  People love to hear themselves talk.  Asking questions shows interest (which helps with the ones above).  When asked a question about something, respond, and think about how you can ask a question right back.  This creates good conversation and a natural flow.

Other than that, relax.  Like I said, the interview really isn't that important.


  1. Much easier said than done.

  2. After conducting over 50 hour-long alumni interviews, writing up my findings, dealing with follow-up questions from applicants, etc., I decided to quit interviewing two years ago. Why? Because only one person I interviewed was accepted, and he was a student-athlete who I totally panned in my write-up. I wrote lots of good reviews and handful of glowing reviews. Since my opinion clearly didn't matter, I gave up. Students should be aware how little influence alumni interviewers actually have.

  3. From what ive gathered from friends who have been interviewed for Oxbridge, most of the interviews are very theoretical based.Is that the case with Ivy League schools as well?

  4. Can't speak for all the Ivy League's, but Princeton at least doesn't give very specific guidelines about what the Interviewer should and should not talk about. The interviewer is free to interview in pretty much any manner they choose.

  5. [...] weighted all that much. I didn’t even interview with Princeton.  If you want advice on how to do well in your Ivy League interview, follow the preceding [...]