If you’re nervous about your Harvard interview, you’re not alone. Since Harvard is one of the most competitive schools in the country, it’s important to do your best on every component of the application to stand out.
Interviews can feel particularly stressful for students because they’re an unfamiliar challenge. However, it is possible to build up your confidence by preparing in advance. Keep reading to learn more about the Harvard interview questions that you can expect to encounter, as well as tips for answering them.
Is a Harvard Interview a Good Sign?
One of the first questions most students have is what an invitation to interview at Harvard means for their chances of admission. Think of the interview as something positive, because it will help you learn more about the campus and reveal more about your personality.
Does Everyone Get a Harvard Interview?
While getting an invitation to interview is an exciting opportunity, it’s far from a guarantee that you’re going to gain admission. In fact, many top colleges extend interviews to as much as 70% of their applicant pool.
Similarly, not getting an interview doesn’t mean you aren’t going to get in. Particularly for Harvard alumni interviews, interview opportunities will also depend on how many interviewers are participating and what their availability looks like.
What Is a Harvard Interview Like
The best way to ace Harvard interview questions is to understand exactly what the interview will be like going into it. Harvard interviews are usually conducted by two interviewers simultaneously. These interviewers will be alumni, not admissions officers.
The Harvard Interview Process: From Admissions to Final Decision
There’s a lot of planning that goes into Harvard’s admissions process. Generally, the admissions office starts thinking about prospective applicants well before high schoolers finalize their list of best-fit colleges.
After students submit an application to Harvard, many will have the opportunity to sign up for an interview. After every interview, each alumnus will compile a report that explains some of the pros and cons associated with the student. Admissions officers will take these reports into account when reviewing applications.
Once admissions officers have made their decisions, students will be notified about these outcomes. As Harvard admission statistics illustrate, gaining a seat in the college is extremely competitive.
Waiting for admissions decisions can be one of the most challenging components of the application process, but students who answer Harvard interview questions well can feel confident that they have done everything possible to set themselves apart.
How Long Are Harvard Interviews?
Part of answering Harvard interview questions well is knowing exactly what to expect. Generally, interviews last for 30 minutes-2 hours and are viewed as an informal and relaxed conversation.
The Harvard Interview: Sample Questions & How to Answer Them
There’s no singular set of questions that every applicant will need to answer. Instead, Harvard’s interview questions are all predicated on your application, which your interviewers will have read beforehand.
While there are a few elements of the interview that can feel stressful, you don’t need to worry about whether or not the interviewer wants to be there. Harvard’s interviews are done by alumni for free because they enjoy doing it and they want to help students learn more about the college. Here are some questions you can expect:
What Are You Potentially Interested in Studying in College?
First and foremost, you’re going to be evaluated on your academic performance. Harvard is looking to admit passionate students who are going to make a difference in a field that they have already demonstrated a commitment towards. It’s ok if you’re not exactly sure what you want to do after college but focus on composing a thoughtful answer that makes it clear that you’re already pursuing specific fields of study at an advanced level.
Tell Me About a Challenge You Encountered in School and How You Overcame It
We all encounter bumps in the road; what matters most is the steps you take to solve them. Think carefully about an obstacle you overcame recently and about what your solution says about you as a student and a person.
What Do You Do Outside of the Classroom?
While academics certainly come first, expect to come across some Harvard interview questions about your extracurricular pursuits as well. Avoid reading off a list of the activities on your resume and instead focus on what’s meaningful to you.
Harvard Law Interview Questions
If you’re applying to law school, you can expect a blend of personal and professional questions such as:
Why Did You Choose Law?
To ace the Harvard interview questions for law school, you’re going to need to demonstrate your passion for the field. Utilize real-life examples to drive your points home and make sure you have experiences that align with what you’re hoping to study.
What Is the Latest Non-Legal Book You’ve Read?
Make sure to keep up with your independent reading and brainstorm a few book titles you can name when answering this question, as well as reasons for these choices.
How Do You Work Under Pressure?
There’s no doubt that a law career can be stressful. This question allows the applicant to discuss how they approach challenges and demonstrate their ability to overcome obstacles.
Harvard Medical School Interview Questions
Much like law school, Harvard medical school interview questions will be more specialized than those for undergraduates, such as:
Where Do You See Yourself in 10 Years?
This question is an opportunity to reflect on your long-term goals and demonstrate the impact you want to make on the medical field in the long run.
Why Do You Want to Be a Doctor?
It’s important to articulate what draws you to medicine and what you hope to achieve, and this question is the perfect opportunity to do that.
What Experiences Have Motivated You to Pursue Medicine?
Reflect on how you first got interested in medicine, any personal experiences that have shaped this journey, and how your passion has evolved over time.
Harvard Business School Interview Questions For MBA Students
What can you expect during an MBA interview? Here are a few sample questions:
What Kind of People Do You Look Forward to Meeting at HBS?
Networking is a component of the business school experience, so it’s important to show that you have reflected on this and that you’re looking forward to connecting with like-minded peers.
How Did You Find the Application Process?
Reflect on what you have enjoyed about the application process so far, such as compiling essays, learning more about Harvard’s program, and touring the school.
What Might Your Supervisor Describe as a Weakness?
Be honest, but make sure to spin the weakness you choose in a positive light by emphasizing what you’re doing to overcome it.
Questions to Ask the Harvard Interviewer
Students need to come into the interview with a few questions prepared for the interviewer. Some queries to consider include:
- What makes Harvard’s campus unique?
- What are some alumni in my field doing after graduation?
- What’s your biggest advice for incoming freshmen?
- What did you enjoy most about your time at Harvard?
- What drew you to Harvard initially?
Harvard Interview Tips: How to Prepare
If you’re looking to excel and answer the Harvard interview questions to the best of your ability, keep the following tips in mind:
Practice Makes Perfect
Interviews are unfamiliar to many high school students, so it’s important to rehearse beforehand so that you feel comfortable. Conduct mock interviews with a friend or parent so you can practice your responses.
There isn’t one type of student that Harvard is looking to admit. Instead, focus on being genuine and highlighting the skills and experiences that set you apart.
Dress With Confidence
There’s no need to wear a full suit and tie, but you should also avoid coming to the interview in ripped jeans and a ratty t-shirt. Take time to select an outfit that you feel good in and something that sends the message that you’re a mature and serious student.
Find more tips and guidance for college admissions interviews.
What Are Your Chances at Harvard?
While Harvard’s acceptance rate has recently dropped below 4%, that doesn’t mean you don’t have a shot at gaining a seat in the class. To be competitive at Harvard, you’ll not only need strong grades and test scores; you’ll also need to demonstrate your excellence in extracurricular activities and your commitment to making a difference, which is exactly where a compelling interview can be beneficial.
To feel confident as you answer Harvard interview questions, do your research and prepare for this part of the process, in addition to other application components. If you’re looking for more guidance, check out our full guide about how to get into Harvard for more practical tips.