The Harvard interview doesn’t test your subject skills, and in fact bears little resemblance to the Oxbridge or UK equivalent: it is an opportunity for you to talk about things that matter to you (both academic and outside of school), so that the interviewer gets to see what kind of person you are.
The interviewer’s job is to find out enough about you so that he or she can ‘make the case’ for you back to the Admissions Office when writing their report. Harvard looks for outstanding students, but just as importantly, wants to find people who will be a good ‘fit’ in their community and make a contribution to its life.
The calibre of student who applies to Harvard tends to be very high; the challenge is to find individuals who are also exceptional in other ways and who will make their mark among exceptional peers.
Your Harvard College interview will be organised by the Harvard Club of the UK, and once you have submitted your application, you will be contacted by a member of the Club who will arrange a convenient date and place to meet. The interview may last between 30 minutes and a couple of hours, depending on the interviewer, but is meant to be an informal and relaxed conversation rather than a set piece.
There is no preparation required and no set agenda. In fact, it’s hard to imagine how you would prepare for the interview! But if you would like to bring along a sample of your work, an art portfolio, an essay or poetry you have written, a prize-winning exercise – or anything of yours that you feel will ‘explain’ who you are – you are encouraged to do so. You might also idenitfy three or four topics that interest you and that you could talk about – a thought-provoking discussion you have had recently, your plans for next summer, perhaps a good film or play.
Students often ask about dress code for the interview – that is entirely up to your good sense, but the general tone is “smart but casual”.