Does Harvard Interview Everyone?

June 6, 2022
By AdmissionSight

Does Harvard Interview Everyone?

For students all over the world, getting into Harvard University as an undergraduate student is a dream come true. However, accomplishing that goal is much easier said than done. In fact, getting into Harvard is one of the hardest things to do as a high school student applying to colleges and universities.

One very important aspect of the Harvard application process for some students can be the interview with a Harvard alum that is part of the application process. But, does Harvard interview everyone?

If you are planning on applying to Harvard and want to know about the application process, and what role the Harvard interview can play in your chances of getting into the school, then you have absolutely come to the right place!

At AdmissionSight, we have worked with students from all over the world to help them improve their chances of getting into Ivy League schools like Harvard, Yale and Princeton or other top-10 schools in the United States that are not a part of the Ivy League such as MIT, Stanford and UChicago.

University building surrounded by trees.

While we can help students with many different aspects of their preparation to get into the schools of their dreams, one of the most common things that students contact us about is getting help with the actual application process (which, of course, includes the interview process at some schools).

Our years of experience and knowledge within the ecosystem of the most selective and elite schools in the world have helped us offer the students that we work with a well of experience. That’s just one of the reasons why 75 percent of the students that we work with end up getting into Ivy League or top-10 schools!

So, if you are asking the question, “Does Harvard give interviews?” or “Does Harvard interview all applicants?” or simply want to know what you can expect from your Harvard interviewer if you do end up getting an interview, then simply keep reading on. There’s a lot for you to learn.

Does Harvard give interviews?

The simple answer to the question, “Does Harvard give interviews?” yes! Interviews are offered at a number of schools across the United States, but they are typically most popular at schools that are highly prestigious and competitive. The reason for this is because, the more competitive a school is, the more involved the admissions process has to be.

Admissions officers and committees at schools like Harvard tend to ask for more information and documents than your typical undergraduate program. Quite often, top schools like Harvard will ask their applicants to send in more personal essays, more letters or recommendations and more.

When it comes to Harvard in particular, the interview is not a required aspect of the undergraduate application. It is totally optional. However, unless there is some reason why you cannot take part in the interview, you should absolutely sign up. In the past, the interviews were primarily done in person, but since the COVID-19 pandemic, schools have been completely willing to conduct interviews remotely.

After each Harvard hopeful submits an online application – complete with their test scores, transcripts, personal essays and more – the vast majority of these students will sign up for an interview with a Harvard alumnus that is working with the school directly and tasked with evaluating the candidate.

Every year, more than 15,000 graduates will serve as an Harvard interviewer. When it comes to figuring out how much does the Harvard interview matter, consider the fact that up until this point, the admissions officers that are looking at a student’s application are only going to know what makes that applicant a special student. Of course, the school will know a bit about what makes you unique and special from your personal essays and letters of recommendation, but they still will know most about your grades, test scores, your accomplishments outside of the classroom and more.

The interview process is an opportunity for the alumni – and by extension the rest of the school – to get to know who you are beyond your great grades and test scores!

So, to conclude this portion: Harvard absolutely does offer interviews to undergraduate applicants. And while they are not required for students to take part in, they are heavily encouraged!

Does Harvard interview everyone? No. But should you sign up for an interview after you submit your application? Absolutely yes!

How much does a Harvard interview matter?

One thing that Harvard applicants should know about the process is that just because you apply and mention that you want to take part in the optional interview process does not mean that you are guaranteed to get an interview.

It is understandable why a student, after expressing interest in taking part in the interview process at Harvard, would be disheartened not to be contacted for one. However, it is important to know that being called for an interview is not going to necessarily mean that you have a better chance of getting into Harvard compared to a student who does get offered an interview.

An interviewer shaking hands with a student.

The school itself makes it clear that “no candidate is at a disadvantage if an interview cannot be arranged.”

On the flipside of things, it is really important for students who are offered an interview to know that just because they get to take part in this exciting opportunity does not mean that they will be a shoe-in to get into the school.

While the fact that you are getting an interview does guarantee that you and your application are being considered, you have to remember that a very small percentage of students that apply to Harvard each application cycle actually end up getting in.

To be more specific, the incoming graduating class of 2026 (students who applied during the 2021-22 application cycle) were subjected to the most competitive acceptance rate in the history of the school.

That acceptance rate was just 3.19 percent! So, the vast majority of students who are considered Harvard do not end up getting in. Keep in mind that meeting with a Harvard interviewer is just a small step in the process, and while it is important, the most crucial aspects of your application are still going to be found on the documents that you submit to the school when you apply.

What are Harvard interviewers like?

When it comes to the experience of meeting with the Harvard interviewer that you have been assigned, it is really important for any student to know that these interviews are not simple conversations that you can just walk into and get thrown with flying colors. Without a doubt, you are going to want to prepare a bit and – at the very least – think about some questions that you might be asked and consider how you would answer them to improve your chances of success!

There is a fine line that every interviewer should strive for, which will allow you to not sound like you have rehearsed or pre-prepared answers while also not rambling or thinking too long before you finally answer.

Overall, Harvard’s interview questions are all going to be based and predicated on your unique application. As you likely already know, you will have already submitted your application and your Harvard interviewer will get the chance to look over your application in advance of your interview.

For that reason, you can absolutely expect to get some questions that are specific to your academic interest and accomplishments as well as your accomplishments and passions outside of the classroom.

While the interview itself is not meant to be difficult per se, it will absolutely force you to consider your personal experience within high school as well as the experience that you hope to have in the event that you do get into Harvard. On top of that, it is really key to keep in mind that there are going to be no “right” or “wrong” answers to the questions that you will be asked.

The most important thing is that you remain genuine and insightful about your academic experience. For your answers to reflect you as best as possible, you should make sure to reflect upon your academic experience and your future goals before your interview takes place.

One final thing to keep in mind about your Harvard interview experience is that some of the questions are going to have very little to do with your specific application. Some of the questions will be more geared to a brief but involved conversation about your passions and will likely be a bit more open ended.

When it comes to seeing questions, the best thing you can do is be honest. If you come up with answers that you think will impress your interviewer, chances are good that they will know that you are being ingenuine and that will reflect poorly upon you.

At this point, you might be wondering what kinds of questions you may specifically be asked during your Harvard interview. While every interview is unique, we do know some types that have been asked thanks to an interview with a Harvard admissions interviewer from Business Insider. These were five of the most common questions that one interviewer asked.

  • What are you interested in potentially studying in college?
  • What’s the most negative experience you ever had in high school?
  • What do you do when you’re not in school?
  • What have you read recently?
  • What is the last cultural event you went to or What have you done or seen lately?

As you can easily see, these questions vary greatly in terms of the kinds of answers that they will receive from students. While you shouldn’t specifically prepare for your interview thinking that you will get these exact same questions, you can definitely get a good sense of the range of questions that you may receive during your conversation.

Other tips to prepare for your Harvard interview

When it comes to doing the very best that you can do to help give yourself an upper hand with the opportunity is to learn from people who have gone through the experience before you. While you may not have someone in your life who applied – and was accepted – to Harvard, you have us at AdmissionSight!

University building surrounded by a river and trees.

To finish up this breakdown of the interview process at Harvard, we thought that we would spend just a little time going over some of the top tips and bits of advice that we have gathered thanks to our years of working with students who have applied to Harvard and have later gotten into this incredible learning institution.

Here are some of the best tips to keep in mind about the Harvard interview.

Keep it formal

Unless you are instructed to do otherwise, you should definitely arrive at your interview (whether it is in person or remote) wearing business casual attire. While you do not have to show up in a full suit to your interview, wearing something that is professional and reflects well on you is a great idea.

After all, you are going to want to use this interview to prove that you are mature beyond your years. Taking the interview seriously in terms of what you wear and how you present yourself can have a bigger impact than you think.

Focus on making a connection

Remember, your interview with a Harvard alumnus should not simply be your opportunity to rehash and go over the material and information that is on your application. After all, they have already looked over your application and know quite a bit about you! What your main priority and focus should be is to make a connection with your Harvard interviewer.

A young student talking to a man in a table.

The goal of the interview overall is for the alumnus – and by connection, the school – to get to know you on a more personal level. You should be honest and genuine so that you can accomplish the primary goal of communicating what makes you unique and distinguishes you from the other deserving and impressive applicants that you are competing with.

The worst thing that any student that is being interviewed can do is come up with superficial answers to the questions that they are asked. Some students tend to try to come up with answers that they think their interviewer may want to hear rather than answers that are true to their own experience.

Instead of trying to impress your interviewer with your answers, you should instead make it a priority that they get to know the real you!

Don’t be afraid to think before you speak

While you should not spend minutes to come up with an answer to a question, there is nothing wrong with spending a few seconds to really ingest the question that has been asked of you by your interviewer. Don’t feel like you need to have an answer locked and loaded the second they finish with their question.

Listen to the question, take a breath and really think about your answer, and then start to slowly and confidently begin your answer. This is a trick that many individuals interviewing at some of the most high-powered companies in the world have utilized for years and it works to your advantage in two ways.

College interviewer talking to a female student.

First off, taking the time to really understand and ingest the question is simply going to make you look insightful and mature rather than if you simply blurt out the first thing that comes to mind because you are afraid of a brief silence.

Beyond that, taking these five to 10 extra seconds to really consider the best answer to the question will, quite simply, yield a better answer. You will fumble around with your words less and will simply come off as a more prepared and composed individual.

Don’t brag, and connect your interview back to Harvard

Now is not the time to boast about your accomplishments or talk about your rank at your high school. The interviewer, and most importantly Harvard itself, already knows all about your resume and accomplishments. Instead, you should really focus on things that are personal to you.

What your favorite class was in high school, what book you enjoyed the most, and how you learned to turn hobbies into passions that you invested time and energy in. Above all, you should be prepared to link all of your interests and lessons that you learned back to Harvard and why you think it is the best school and community for you to continue your growth as a student and as an individual.

Succeed in the Harvard interview

While taking part in a Harvard interview is not going to be the single deciding factor in whether or not you end up getting into the school, a great interview can certainly help your chances! If you want to learn more about how to prepare for your Harvard interview, or any of the other aspects of the application process, contact AdmissionSight today to schedule a free consultation.

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