Posts filed under ‘Interview questions’

Response to Theodore: why Princeton over Yale?

Posted by DeeTheodore commented on two of AdmitSpit’s blog posts yesterday regarding how to respond to a question about why he prefers one school over another, especially when two schools of similar status offer the same major and equally great social and learning environments. Here’s what he said on the posts titled, “Response to Edie” and “Ivy Leagues are not created equal.”

“I am nervous as usual about the encounter I will have in two days with the interviewer. My most feared question is why princeton over all the other schools; why princeton over for example Yale? Both offer majors i am interested in and lovely learning environments. I mean Yale and Princeton both offer economics and exciting environments. How can you simply decide which is “better” or what makes Princeton tick more than another?!!”

Well, Theodore, I’m really glad you came to AdmitSpit to ask this question because I think you’ll get a response you’ll be quite satisfied with!

When I had my Princeton interview last year, my interviewer was this really sweet young lady now studying at Stanford for grad school and I was the first person she had ever interviewed for Princeton. She told me that Princeton gave her and all their (more…)


January 16, 2007 at 5:34 pm 1 comment

Googling your interviewers… creepy, or cool?

Posted by Dee

Maybe I’m just creepy, but I definitely Googled (well, Yahooed actually…) my interviewers before I had my interviews!

It’s amazing how much information is out there about people on the Internet, and you never know if something you find might come in handy. For example, I found out plenty of really interesting information on my MIT interviewer; he had founded two companies in the Silicon Valley, had run for student government in his sophomore year, and had been on a Lacrosse team in college.

Again, some people my find it a bit stalker-like, so let me explain what my search was motivated by.

During interview season, I was always worried that I wouldn’t be able to keep conversation flowing well enough! So, to preempt any awkward silences, I found it useful to find out a little more on my interviewers before meeting them. This way, I could prepare some questions ahead of time for them. For instance, continuing with the MIT example, since I knew he had been involved on campus, I was able to ask, “did you get involved in campus activities?” knowing that I would get an affirmative answer and explanation, rather than just asking blindly and potentially receiving an awkward response like, “Um, no. Sorry I can’t tell you much about that.”

Sometimes you may not find any information about the person, or other times you may not even find the right person (if their name is really common, for example). But, my philosophy is that if it takes less than a second for a search engine to search your interviewer’s name and potentially find some valuable, if not interesting, information, why not do it?

November 14, 2006 at 11:32 pm Leave a comment

How “x” does academics: x = Berkeley

Posted by Doreen

In previous blog posts, Dee has written about the importance of knowing about the schools you are applying to. This is particularly important for answering questions about what you want to major in, or what you are looking for academically in a school, whether it be in an essay or short answer format, or during an interview.

I was talking to Dee about this once. She told me that during her Princeton interview, the interviewer asked what Dee wanted to major in. Dee said that she wanted to double major in economics and something “science-y.” Except, Princeton apparently doesn’t have double majors. Oops.

So, every week or so, AdmitSpit is going to commission students from top universities around the country to write blog posts about how academics are done at their school.

Since we have a Cal student on the AdmitSpit staff, we decided to start off here.

Basically, Berkeley is a big school, with lots, I mean lots, of classes to choose from. Most classes are usually 3-4 units, language classes are usually 5 units, and seminars are 0.5-2 units. There are over 100 different departments at Berkeley, and (more…)

October 20, 2006 at 5:14 am Leave a comment

On scholarship interviews

Posted by Rachel

When you apply for scholarships, often you’ll need to fill out an application, write an essay, or do an interview. I only had to do two interviews out of the seven I applied for. Here are some tips I have for doing well at the interviews for scholarships.

1. Dress nicely for the interview, but don’t look sexy.

2. Be calm and talk slowly. Think ahead of time about the topics that you know they will ask you about. For example, if you are interviewing for a leadership scholarship, then formulate ideas about your leadership experiences.

3. Tell them the truth.

4. Sometimes I have a hard time recalling words that are necessary in what I am going to say, so sometimes I would pause and wait until I could remember the word so that I could finish what I was saying! The most important thing is to be nice and listen to them and answer the questions they ask, even if you take a few moments to collect your thoughts, and not just talk about you want to talk about.

5. It’s helpful to practice what you are going to say with your parents or friends.

6. Bring water.

7. Be happy! When you are stressed or uncomfortable, it shows!

October 4, 2006 at 8:20 pm 1 comment

“Tell me about yourself” interview samples

Posted by Dee

It occurred to me yesterday that when I gave guidelines for responding to the quintessential interview question of “tell me about yourself” I failed to actually give an example of the answering strategy put into action.

So, here are three different examples of how to answer the query.

Model 1: Activity-geared answer

(This would be for students who participated in some really unique extracurricular activities that they’d like to focus their interview on.)

Interviewer: So, Dee, tell me about yourself.

Dee: Well, just to start off generally, I’m a senior at Somewhere High School, and in addition to academics, throughout high school I was really involved in three (or two) activities that I really enjoy and spend a lot of time on. First, I am really involved in music. I played the tuba in our high school band, and by senior year, now I’m drum major. Second, I’m really active with local politics. I interned for our state’s senator whose offices are located in my city, and I learned so much researching issues for the campaign. Also, I’m an avid soccer player. I’ve been playing since I was five, and I was really excited when I was voted team captain of our club team last year.

Interviewer: Oh, that’s great. Tell me more about being drum major. What does that (more…)

September 23, 2006 at 5:55 am 45 comments

Ah, the quintessential “tell me about yourself”

Posted by Dee

Interestingly enough, one of the most difficult interview questions to answer well is the most rudimentary “tell me about yourself” conversation starter. Here are some words of advice on answering just that first, open-ended question:

1. Keep it concise — Pick three aspects (three is my recommendation and is just a pretty good rule of thumb, but it can be adjusted) of yourself that CAN be expanded upon. The interviewer will ask follow-up questions based on how you’ve answered this question so choose to talk about activities or personal traits or background information that you deem important and that can be talked about further in length.

2. Be general with the three aspects — Don’t feel the need to give a monologue about each aspect right now. Keep each aspect to about one sentence, and then give one to two examples for each within one to two sentences.

3. Response time shouldn’t be more than 2 minutes tops

4. Rehearse your answer! — This is the quintessential interview starter and so you want to seem polished and to-the-point (eliminating too many likes and ums and wells), but without being unnatural. Remember the interviwer will know very little, if not nothing, about you at this point, so they’re asking this question to get a sense of what you think is important or impressive or interesting about yourself. Remember that they may interrupt you or ask questions, but regardless, it’s in your best interest to plan out your response to this query and rehearse your answer.

September 22, 2006 at 5:17 pm 1 comment

CRAZY interview “questions”

Posted by Dee

I recently had a conversation with some friends about college interviews, and so I thought I’d start a little collection of the really unconventional questions applicants have come across in their admissions interviews. Here’s a start, and feel free to add your own through comments!

1. What fruit would you be, and why?

2. Tell me a joke.

3. If you could have any super power, which would you want, and why?

4. If you were invisible for a day, where would you go and what would you do, and why?

September 13, 2006 at 6:37 am 3 comments

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