Tip of the Month: (Online) Admission Interviews

Interviews can seem daunting but they don’t have to be. At the end of the day, it’s just another conversation. You may already know that the best conversations are often the product of a person’s willingness to share and to ask questions. So if you want to share and ask questions, an interview is a great way to do just that.

For students, interviews are an opportunity to communicate aspects of who you are as a person that may or not make it onto your application. Interviews are also an opportunity to make more of a connection with the college. At HMC, interviews very rarely “make” or “break” a student’s application. So relax and be ready to talk.

Given the restrictions on travel and in-person meetings, many colleges are moving to online interviews: just as you all have had to adapt, we have too! Ultimately we want the same thing: for your interviewer to learn something about who you are, for you to learn about your potential fit with our college, and to have a good conversation.

As you start planning to interview:

  • Look up interview policies. Different colleges have contrasting policies about interviews, so it is worthwhile to research those policies about when to interview, whether the student takes initiative or the college does, and who to interview with.
    • At HMC, we want you to interview before the application deadline passes and we ask you to take the initiative to request one.
  • Do some interview prep. Start by reflecting on your academics, your activities, your overall high school experience, your hopes for the future, and what you want from your college experience. Look up information on the college and prepare some questions that go beyond the basics. Be ready to articulate these points and communicate why this college might appeal to you. This preparation enhances the interview for both parties and tells us that you take the process and the college seriously.
    • At HMC, we find that interviews are most helpful if the student has taken the time to learn about Mudd beyond the basic facts (location, size, that we offer the major they are considering), so we recommend that students interview after they have attended an information session, either in-person or online.

All signed up? Here are your next steps:

  • Read your confirmation email thoroughly. It will contain information on how to access the interview, which may vary from college to college.
  • Dress to feel comfortable and confident.
    • Your interviewer may be dressed in professional attire, but you don’t have to. Some students choose to wear shorts and a t-shirt, others choose to wear a dress or collared shirt. Wear what you feel comfortable and confident in.
  • Set up. If possible, find a quiet space where you will be undisturbed. Make sure your device is charged and plugged in, and use headphones or earbuds to minimize echo. Stack some books or boxes so that your laptop screen is at eye level, or find something to prop your phone against.
  • Be on time. Double-check the interview time and time zone. Set an alarm on your phone. Give yourself plenty of time to start your computer/phone and access the interview.
  • Slow connection? If your internet connection struggles with video or if you’re on a shared network, it’s OK to connect with audio only and no video. We’d much rather hear you clearly!
  • Technical difficulties? Don’t panic. We understand. It happens. We’ll figure it out.
    • Harvey Mudd interviewers have your email address. If we’re unable to connect with you within 5 minutes of your scheduled interview start time, your interviewer will email you to make alternate arrangements, so keep an eye on your inbox.
  • We’re on your side: We actually want you to succeed in the interview, and we want to get to know you so we can advocate for you. It is common to be nervous, but do try to relax, maintain eye contact, to avoid nervous habits, to sit straight, and engage us.
    • Harvey Mudd interviews are fairly casual. It is really meant to be a conversation. We will ask you some questions to get the conversation started, but after that it’s up to both of us to carry it on. We also invite you to ask us questions about Harvey Mudd and the application process.

After the interview:

  • Follow up if you want. Some students send a quick email or note to the interviewer. This is not necessary, so do it if it makes sense to you. If there was anything left out of the interview (expanding on a point of discussion or bringing up a subject that was overlooked), this is a great way to cover that.
  • Reach out if you have questions. As we approach the application deadline (and once admitted, the decision response deadline), you may have more questions. Don’t hesitate to reach out to your interviewer, even if it’s been months and you haven’t spoken to them since the interview. That’s what we’re here for: we’re here to help!