The Ivy Coach Daily

February 3, 2023

MIT Interview Process, Questions, and Tips

An exterior view of a modern dorm at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
A group of over 3,500 MIT alumni interview MIT applicants annually (photo credit: Daderot).

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology admitted 5.7% of Early Action applicants to the Class of 2027. Between the Early Action and Regular Decision rounds for the MIT Class of 2026, 3.96% of applicants got in. Last year’s record-low overall admission rate eclipsed the 4.03% of applicants who earned admission to the MIT Class of 2025 — a year marked by an astounding nearly 66% surge in applications from the Class of 2024.

If you’re an applicant to the MIT Class of 2027, you’ve already submitted your application, and you might wonder what more there is to do. Deferred Early Action applicants should submit their MIT FUN Forms by no later than February 7, 2023 (in addition to a Letter of Continued Interest). And Regular Decision applicants should start preparing for their MIT interview as it’s one of the final pieces of the admissions puzzle that remains in their control.

So how can MIT Regular Decision applicants to the Class of 2027 know what to expect and begin preparing for a potential interview? Let’s examine in depth the MIT interview process.

Do All Students Get Interviewed by MIT?

While MIT endeavors to interview all applicants, not all applicants get interviews. But just as applicants should not get excited about landing an MIT interview since it’s not an indication of the strength of their candidacy but rather the interviewer’s availability, applicants who don’t receive interviews should not be discouraged.

Sometimes interviewers get busy with work or family commitments. Sometimes interviewers forget to reach out to applicants to schedule interviews. With over 3,500 MIT graduates around the world who interview applicants, some are more diligent than others.

But while it’s always good to have an opportunity to interview with MIT, students should not worry if an interviewer doesn’t reach out. As MIT states, “If we are unable to offer you an interview, it will be waived and your application will not be adversely affected.” MIT is being truthful on this point. While an excellent interview evaluation can help an MIT applicant, it will not be held against them if an alum never reaches out.

What is the MIT Interview Process?

MIT applicants receive an email, typically in January, from a member of the MIT Educational Council, a group of over 3,500 MIT graduates worldwide who volunteer to meet with MIT applicants — either in-person or virtually — in their geographic region.

While interviews were conducted exclusively virtually during the height of the pandemic, interviewers, known at MIT as Educational Counselors (ECs), have the option of completing the meetings virtually or in person for the Class of 2027. Most interviews are scheduled for January — often within a week or so of the initial reach-out email.

In our experience, in their initial reach-out email, most Educational Counselors will give applicants the choice of whether they would like to meet virtually or in person. We would always prefer our students at Ivy Coach to meet in person.

How is the MIT Interview Designed?

The MIT interview is most frequently about an hour in length, though it can be as short as 30 minutes or as long as two hours. It’s intended as an informal meeting — as much to answer students’ questions about MIT as to gauge the strength of students’ candidacies.

What Do MIT Interviewers Want to See?

MIT interviewers want to see deep intellectual curiosity. They want to see that students are fun, kind, and likable — and can get along with others. Being fun especially matters to MIT admissions officers. They get many applicants doing nanotechnology, artificial intelligence, and cancer research. But can these applicants show their fun sides? That can make all the difference.

What are Common MIT Interview Questions?

10 Tips to Ace the MIT Interview

1. An interviewer may ask you to bring something personally important to your interview, like an object, so think ahead. Several MIT’s Educational Counselors have asked our students to do so over the years — so don’t be surprised and think creatively about what you’ll bring!

2. If you’re going to Google your Educational Counselor, which isn’t necessary, don’t demonstrate that you’ve Googled them during the interview. It’s not as though that’s going to impress your interviewer. Besides, the discussion is about you, and it’s a chance to learn about MIT — it’s not about the interviewer.

3. Don’t bring a resume with your grades and scores. The interview is a chance to learn about you beyond your grades and scores. Unlike some elite universities, MIT Educational Counselors are well-trained not to ask about your grades and scores. It’s not their business — that’s for the MIT admissions committee to review.

4. Make yourself available to your interviewer and be very kind in responding to the MIT Educational Counselor. Your response to their reach-out email is the first impression you make. So don’t be so busy that you can’t find the time to meet with your MIT Educational Counselor at their earliest convenience. They’re a part of the working world. You’re a high school student. We’ve seen too many students present as demanding in their responses, which leaves a terrible first impression.

5. Show love for high school’s core subjects — not just math and science. While MIT expects you to excel and have a penchant for math and science, they want to see your passion for English, history, and foreign language. MIT has history, English, and foreign language professors, in addition to public policy, linguistics, women’s and gender studies, and so much more. These professors need students to teach!

6. Don’t brag. While it’s vital to demonstrate your passions, there’s no need to cite awards you’ve won. MIT’s admissions committee can see your achievements in the “honors” section of The Common Application. So don’t mistake the interview as your opportunity to boast about your accolades. That will render you unlikable, which should be the opposite of your objective.

7. Be prepared with specific after specific about why you want to attend MIT. These references should work only for MIT. So saying the school has a diverse student body and outstanding research opportunities does not count. These are vague generalities that can apply to virtually any university. Students should also not cite professors or classes as reasons for attending since professors leave and class names change. Instead, students should cite aspects of the MIT experience that are enduring — programs, institutes, activities, the culture, traditions, and much more.

8. Have questions prepared to ask your MIT interviewer. Get your Educational Counselor to talk about their own MIT experience. What did they love about attending MIT? What sorts of activities were they involved in while a student? This is your chance to find out.

9. Immediately after your interview, write down some specifics you learned about MIT from the meeting. This way, you can write a thank you note to your Educational Counselor that isn’t generic. This way, you’ll remember what you two discussed.

10. Don’t overdress but also don’t dress too casually. When Educational Counselors are young, applicants tend to be more informal. But don’t let their age fool you! Applicants should be formal with their interviewers irrespective of the age of the Educational Counselor. Keep this in mind regarding the clothes you pick for your meeting, which you hopefully elect to do in person rather than virtually if offered the option.

MIT Interview FAQs

Who Will Interview You?

One of the over 3,500 Educational Counselors, alums of MIT, will interview you. Typically, your Educational Counselor will live near your hometown.

What Will the Interview Be About?

It will be about you! It’s a chance to talk about what makes you tick. It’s also a chance to demonstrate your interest in attending MIT.

Where Will the Interview Take Place?

Most applicants are offered a chance to meet virtually or in person. We always recommend students opt for in-person interviews. These in-person meetings typically take place at local coffee shops. Rarely these days are they held in interviewers’ homes or offices as they were years ago.

When Will the Interview Take Place?

Students typically receive word from their MIT Educational Counselor in early January. The interview is typically scheduled for a time in January.

Why Should Applicants Interview?

It’s a chance for applicants to further tell their story and showcase their reasons for wishing to attend MIT.

What If I’m Not Contacted About an Interview?

Don’t fret. You’re welcome to contact MIT’s main admissions number and ask. But be calm on the call, as a notation can always be placed in your file if you’re not kind or too stressed (you never know!). In all likelihood, the admissions office will tell you not to worry, that not everyone receives an interview, it depends on the availability of Educational Counselors, and not having an interview will not be held against applicants.

Is the Interview One of the Most Important Components of the MIT Admissions Process?

No, it’s one of the least important components of the MIT admissions process. It’s as much to make alums feel like they’re a part of the admissions process, so they stay connected with their alma mater as it is to gauge the strengths and weaknesses of applicants.

What if My MIT Interviewer Asks an Inappropriate Question?

It happens! Sometimes interviewers will ask questions like, “What are other schools to which you’re applying?” Or “What’s your SAT or ACT score?” Don’t be surprised if you’re asked such a question, though MIT’s Educational Counselors tend to ask these questions less than alumni interviewers at other elite universities, like Harvard interviewers. Just pivot as best you can. For example, don’t reveal a list of colleges you’re applying to besides MIT. Instead, say, “MIT is the school I most wish to attend.” Hopefully, the interviewer will take the hint.

Ivy Coach’s Assistance Preparing for the MIT Interview

At Ivy Coach, we prep students for the MIT interview. If you’re interested in our assistance, fill out our free consultation form and we’ll be in touch.

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