Does Stanford Interview Everyone?

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

Female student shaking hands with a man.

Does Stanford Interview Everyone?

When it comes to students both within the United States and abroad, the most intelligent and determined of the bunch tend to try to get into the best of the best undergraduate programs in the United States.

For many students, that means applying to – and trying to get into – one of the eight Ivy League schools. Ivy League schools, such as Harvard University, Yale University, and Columbia University are famous for having incredibly selective admissions processes. They are also known for offering their students the best of the best when it comes to resources, faculty, opportunities, and more.

Entrance of Stanford University.

However, there are schools that are not in the Ivy League that have similarly prestigious reputations. One such school is Stanford University. Stanford, which is located in Palo Alto, California has an incredibly precise and demanding admissions process. One aspect of the admissions process at Stanford includes an undergraduate interview process in which proud members of the school’s alumni interview students that are applying.

But does Stanford interview everyone?

If you are planning on applying to Stanford – or have recently sent in your application and are curious about the interview process at the school and also want to know answers to questions like, “Does Stanford interview all applicants?” or “How much does the Stanford interview matter?” then you have 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 Stanford, MIT, and UChicago. 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).

Two women talking in an interview.

The experience that our admissions consultants have within the undergraduate admissions landscape of the most selective schools in the world, like Stanford, has helped countless students that we have worked with getting into the schools of their dreams. In fact, 75 percent of that we work with end up getting into schools like Stanford, MIT or Ivy League programs. Considering the fact that a majority of these schools have overall acceptance rates well under 10.0 percent, a 75 percent success rate is pretty darn impressive!

So, if you are wondering, “Does Stanford interview everyone?” or simply want to know what to expect when you meet your Stanford interviewer, then keep reading to find out all that and more about the challenging and exciting process at the school!

Does Stanford give interviews?

The simple and most direct answer to the question, “Does Stanford give interviews?” is a definite yes. Interviews are offered at many of the most prestigious and competitive schools in the United States for a number of reasons. The prime reason for this is that, the more competitive a school is, the more involved the admission process tends to be.

Female student talking to an interviewer.

After all, these schools are often receiving applications from students who will finish high school at the very top of their graduating classes in terms of grade point average, standardized test scores, and out-of-school accomplishments. While it is obviously a wonderful job for admissions officers at those schools to give such impressive students the chance to attend their college or university, it definitely makes the decision-making process harder.

Admissions officers also want to find students who they think will be a good cultural fit and add to their campus community. Schools usually utilize the letters of recommendation and personal essays/statements that students send in to answer such questions, but when it comes to the most elite schools in the country, those alone sometimes don’t cut it. That is where the undergraduate interview process comes in.

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!

When it comes to Stanford specifically, the undergraduate application interview is optional and not a mandatory part of the application. While getting into Stanford is, of course, incredibly challenging, getting the chance to take part in the interview process is less competitive. That is because the interview is generally seen as part of the application process itself.

It is meant to provide Regular Decisions and Restrictive Early Action applicants to have an in-depth and meaningful conversation with a Stanford alum. This two-way exchange gives the applicant a chance to learn more about Stanford and gives the school’s admissions office a chance to learn more about the applicant!

With that in mind, it is important to remember that it is more than possible to get into Stanford without an interview. In fact, the majority of students that do not end up getting an interview, and a fair number of those students still do end up getting into the school.

One thing that is important to keep in mind is that in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, interviews that were previously held in person were moved to remote during the 2021-22 application cycle. It is not yet known if this will change in the 2022-23 cycle and revert back to in-person or if it will remain remote.

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

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

How much does the Stanford interview matter?

One thing that is important for all Stanford applicants to keep in mind is that just because you are applying as an undergrad and make it clear that you wish to take part in the interview process, that does not automatically mean that you will be offered the opportunity to get an interview.

Female student shaking hands with a man during an interview.

Of course, it makes perfect sense why any student who is serious about applying and getting into Stanford would want to take part in this process. After all, every little bit can help a student in their pursuit of getting into this great school.

It also makes sense why a student would be somewhat disheartened to find that they will not be able to get an interview after expressing interest. However, it is important to keep in mind that getting an interview opportunity does not necessarily mean your chances of getting into the school are improved, just like not getting offered a chance to take part in an interview does not necessarily hurt your chances of getting in.

In fact, the school itself makes quite clear on its official site that students who do not get offered an interview should not worry about the status of their application:

“Please do not worry if you are not contacted, as your application will be considered complete without an interview. It may be that we do not have enough volunteers in your area to interview each applicant,” the site reads.

On top of that, the school makes it abundantly clear that “applications are not pre-screened for interview eligibility.” This essentially means that Stanford does not rank applications in terms of who the school is most interested in interviewing based on the application. In other words, a student can absolutely be offered an interview and not end up getting in just like a student can not be offered an interview and end up getting in!

With all that being said, if you are offered an interview with Stanford, it is important to make sure that you are taking full advantage of the opportunity to help your chances of getting in in any way possible. Just like all other schools, Stanford looks at a student’s academic viability first and foremost. Other factors such as community impact, in-school and out-of-school accomplishments, cultural background, and more come into play later. The interview essentially exists within this second tier of factors that a school’s admissions office takes into consideration.

Simply put, the interview is a chance for any student to further prove that they not only belong at Stanford but also would also be a fantastic member of the Stanford community for many years to come. After all, every little bit can help when it comes to trying to beat the acceptance rates at schools like Stanford.

To put the selectiveness of this school’s admissions process into clearer words, it is estimated that the acceptance rate for the incoming class of 2026 was somewhere between 4.0 and 5.0 percent. That puts Stanford on par with schools like Harvard, Yale, MIT, and Columbia in terms of difficulty to get in.

So, if you are offered the chance to take part in the interview process and meet with a Stanford interviewer, make sure that you take advantage of it and use it to help make your case that you should get into the school!

What are Stanford interviews like?

When it comes to the specific experience of meeting with the Stanford interviewer that you have been assigned, it is important to go into this experience with a general understanding of what you can expect. While these interviews should not be looked at as simple and casual conversations with some random person that you do not have to prepare for, they should also not be seen as a very formal and high-pressure interview process.

The truth is that these interviews are somewhere in between. They are meant to be free-flowing and comfortable conversations while also maintaining an air of professionalism and courtesy.

Three women talking in a table.

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, Stanford’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 a difficult or stressful experience for the applying student in any way, it is certainly meant to encourage the student to consider their past high school experiences, both in and out of the classroom, and discuss how those experiences have prepared them for the next step of their education. More specifically, how those experiences have prepared them for attending Stanford University.

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 take place.

Beyond that, here is a general list of bullet points that Stanford offers applicants in terms of how to prepare for their application interview.

  • Since the interview is meant to be an informal conversation, no formal preparation is needed.
  • There is no set list of questions that interviewers are required to ask, which allows for each interview to be a unique conversation.
  • Prior to the interview, you may want to think about:
    • Experiences and goals that you would like to share with your interviewer.
    • Questions to ask your interviewer, as this is an opportunity to learn more about Stanford.
  • You are welcome to dress in typical high school attire.
  • Do not share resumes, transcripts, test scores, your application or other supplementary materials with your interviewer. Interviewers are not permitted to view or accept such materials.
  • Interviews may not be recorded by either the applicant or the interviewer.
  • The interview is a one-on-one experience between you and your interviewer. Parents, siblings, and friends should not be present during an interview. Parents who wish to meet the interviewer may do so immediately prior to the start of the interview.
  • For video interviews, it can be helpful to use headphones to minimize potential audio feedback.
  • Prepare to have an enjoyable experience talking about yourself and learning more about Stanford.

Beyond that, it may be helpful to learn a bit about the role of your Stanford interviewer. Whoever you are paired with, their goals are the same and are as follows:

  • Alumni volunteers learn about you through the interview and share information with the Office of Undergraduate Admission through a report that becomes part of your admission file.
  • During the interview, alumni volunteers share stories about their Stanford experience.
  • You may think of information after the interview that you wish you had shared. We are not able to accept additional information and we ask that you do not contact your interviewer to provide additional information.
  • Please do not contact your interviewer to ask follow-up questions; direct follow-up questions to the Office of Undergraduate Admission as noted below.

Other tips to prepare for your Stanford interview

When it comes to really make the most out of your Stanford interview, sometimes the best way to do so is just to follow some great tips from people who have experience within this world. We are, of course, here to help you! We wanted to very quickly list just a few quick tips that can help any student feel more comfortable heading into their interview!

  • Come up with potential questions and outline your answers beforehand so that you’re not caught by surprise and can quickly think of responses to the interview questions.
  • If you’re given the interviewer’s name, look them up on LinkedIn before the interview to find out their career, what their major was, and any additional information about them that you can potentially relate to or ask about.
  • Prepare at least 3 questions for the interviewer that are relevant to them, such as what they enjoyed about their experience, what most surprised them about their school, or how their major relates to their current career.

Succeed in the Stanford interview

While taking part in a Stanford 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 Stanford interview or any of the other aspects of the application process, contact AdmissionSight today to schedule a free consultation.




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