Interview





Summary:


How to beast an interview

-prime directive: be interesting/cool/intelligent/someone they would want to go on a road trip with
-the mental game/mindset/attitude:admissions interviewers are your friends. Be fluent/genuine. It’s an amazing feeling to realize that the real you is actually good enough – you don’t have to pretend
-some common questions to think about: what would you do with $1,000,000? 1,000,000,000? Describe personal circumstances. Fill in holes in application.

Tips for specific colleges

-MIT: bring cool projects


Extracted from e-mail -- The basics:

-your goal in the college interview is to prove that you are an interesting and engaging (and cool, friendly, positive) person; as with the rest of your application, you want to come across as someone they would find it fascinating to go on a cross-country road trip with.

-talk about interesting stuff. This can be cool projects you've worked on, cool research you've done, cool internships you've had caught cool classes you've taken, cool revelations you've had, cool philosophical concepts you've stumbled upon, cool books you've read, interesting recent developments in the news that provoke thought, interesting trends in modern society; steer the conversation towards items you can talk about

-Be alert and well rested but completely chill. Interviewers are your friends and are trying to make a case to get you in to the college.


The interviewer asks you about your life and achievements plus your interests, philosophies, and aspirations. For most of the process, the best preparation is to simply be enthusiastic about life as you travel through it. Don't lose your exuberance to nerves on the threshold of the coffee shop or café where you're supposed to meet the person.


Frequently asked questions that benefit from prior thought include

- what would you do with $1,000,000,000

- what are you interested in studying and why?

Why do you really want to go to the school? For instance you really liked MIT's open courseware, and it helped you on X project which you wrote about in your application. Or Stanford's philosophy encyclopedia, or Princeton's WordNet

Your goal is to come across as enlightened, positive, motivated, and profoundly interesting person who gives the interviewer faith in the future of humanity.

MIT-specific advice:

-bring a project, show it off, talk about how something clever you did actually works. If it's a website where the interface is the clever part, talk about the general and critically important trend of optimizing life that you are following in building that website. Are you minimizing keystrokes somewhere? Are you saving people time? Are you making something more efficient? All of this is where the conversation material. I actually brought in my FPGA from my Intel project and show it in operation. If you have Mathematica projects you're doing please feel free to show off the cooler ones as well.
Make sure it's impressive. I personally brought the FPGA I worked on for my Intel STS project in and demonstrated. Practice or demonstration beforehand and, above all, but make sure that whatever you're showing off is slick and clever, even if it's small.

-you are allowed to mention nerdy stuff like xkcd depending in your interviewer.