Harvard students' top tips for admissions interviews
1. Treat the interview as a conversation. Your interviewer knows you're nervous and will look to engage you in conversation about whatever puts you at ease – your travels, your extracurricular activity, your favourite subject or teacher, your passion for attending Harvard. Ask your interviewer questions, too, since this makes it more likely that you will both enjoy a free-flowing conversation. The setting should help: unlike admissions interviews for British universities, Harvard interviews are often conducted in an informal setting, such as a coffee shop.
2. Resolve beforehand that you will mention all of your most outstanding achievements. It's important for you to put modesty to one side - there are thousands of other applicants competing for admissions places, so you really do need to mention your most notable accomplishments. Your interviewer expects this and won't think you are bragging. You don't want to come away from the interview and suddenly realize you forgot to mention something vital.
3. Academic revision isn't necessary. A strong academic record is something you will have in common with all the other applicants, so your interviewer will mostly want to hear about your life and interests outside of school. The non-academic part of your life is valuable in helping the admissions office understand more about you as a person.
4. What challenges have you overcome? If there are any significant obstacles you'd like to mention, do tell your interviewer.
5. Let your enthusiasm shine through. Your interviewer will be interested to know why you're keen to attend Harvard and to pursue a liberal arts undergraduate education in the United States. Speak from the heart.
An admissions interview is never going to be a wholly relaxing experience, but do try to enjoy the experience of chatting with someone who is very much looking forward to meeting you. Most Harvard interviewers find it extremely enjoyable to meet applicants. The ideas, insights and above all the tremendous promise that applicants exude is quite stimulating for interviewers, who have already had their Harvard adventure and wish you the very best in your endeavor to become a fellow Crimson scholar.
Courtesy of Jasmine Zhang (Harvard '06)