How To Ace The MIT Interview: Sample Question & Answers

Photo of two people sitting opposite each other
November 28, 2023
9 min read


Reviewed by:

Former Admissions Committee Member, Columbia University

Reviewed: 11/28/23

Do you have an upcoming MIT interview and need help preparing? This guide provides tips and valuable information that will help you ace your admissions interview!

“We want people who are academically curious and passionate, people who will bring their various talents to MIT and share them with others, people who will be good roommates, good mentors, good friends. We do not admit test scores. We admit people.” –Matt McGann, former MIT admissions director

The MIT admissions interview has long been a staple of the application process. It’s the school’s opportunity to put a face and a personality to some of the thousands of applications they receive, so it’s important to put your best foot forward. 

It’s also your chance to discuss your goals and aspirations to be sure that MIT is the right fit for you. 

In this article, you’ll find helpful tips on getting an interview, an explanation of the interview process, a list of sample MIT interview questions with advice on best approaching them, and a list of frequently asked questions about the process.

How to Get an Interview at MIT

The first step to rocking your MIT interview is getting an interview in the first place. With a 4.8% acceptance rate, the competition is stiff. This is especially true for getting an MIT Sloan interview because of how difficult it is. However, there are many ways to ensure your application gets rocketed to the top of the list. 

In brief, you want to show MIT the best you can offer. High test scores can carry you some of the way (check out their breakdown of admission statistics for comparison), but they’re far from the most important element of the application.

In fact, Matt McGann, former admissions director, said that when reading applications, he would “glance at the test scores... before moving on to the more important parts of the application.” 

This is not to say that grades don’t matter, but with thousands of applicants, the vast majority of whom score highly on their tests, it’s not the only factor.

MIT wants to see how well you fit with their mission. It emphasizes that it wants to make the world better and attract students who aspire to do the same. It looks for leadership skills, a willingness to take risks, creativity and curiosity, and community orientation.

Above grades and test scores, MIT wants to see that you’ve spent your time focused “on becoming your best self by pursuing your interests, your aptitudes, and your education.” If you can emphasize these qualities in your essays, the admissions team will look at your application more favorably.

One way to highlight these qualities is by explaining your extracurricular activities. There is no list of extracurriculars that look better on an application than others. What's important is that you can showcase your qualities that align with MIT’s mission. 

Focusing on these qualities will help you secure an interview and get into MIT!

Beyond this, ensure you’re hitting the deadlines and requirements with lots of time to spare and closely monitor your email. The MIT Sloan interview invitation will come through the email address you provided on your application, and you will be responsible for scheduling it from there. 

Does Every MIT Applicant Get an Interview?

MIT interviews are not a required part of the application process. The school does try to offer as many interviews as possible; they only have limited spots. If your interview is waived, it will not put you at a disadvantage in the admissions process.

Understanding the MIT Interview

Man handing over pen and paper

If you’ve been offered an interview, take it. If you decide to accept the offer, ensure you accept it within the MIT interview deadline.

If the interview is waived, it won’t affect MIT’s final decision, but it’s not a good look to turn down an interview offer. Educational Counselor (EC) Chris Su’s primary advice is, “please do it. We like talking to you. Really!”

If you’ve been selected for an interview, the first step in the MIT admissions interview process is receiving an email from your EC. This is where the relationship starts. Be prompt in responding to your MIT interview invitation email, and be friendly and respectful throughout further correspondence. 

First impressions are very important, so you’ll want to show them the best of who you are from the beginning. 

The interview won’t be too formal, so there’s no need to wear your best dress or a three-piece suit. As long as you’re looking professional and feeling comfortable, you don’t need to worry too much about what you’re wearing. 

The interview can last approximately an hour, although it could range from 30 minutes to 2 hours. Whatever the length, don’t take that as a good or bad sign. As long as the conversation flows smoothly, the interview length isn’t an indicator of how you’re doing.

MIT suggests you “think through stories or examples that will give your interviewer a vivid sense of your passions and aspirations.” What are your ambitions? What drives you? Passion and excitement are contagious, so if you come prepared to talk about your favorite things, you’ll set yourself up for success. 

What’s important is to avoid one-word answers. You’ll shine in the interview when you answer their questions genuinely and thoughtfully. You don’t need to follow a script, but you’ll do well if you show that you’re engaged in the process and excited to talk about it. 

Come prepared with questions of your own. EC Kim Hunter says she loves answering questions about her experiences at MIT. It’s a two-way conversation, after all. So she’s always happy to provide information. She emphasizes, though, that the questions should be intelligent. 

“Just like you wouldn’t go to a job interview and ask what the company does, don’t come to your MIT interview and ask overly simplistic questions,” Hunter says. She wants to see that you’ve researched and know what you’re looking for in a school. 

Try not to be too nervous. Of course, that’s easier said than done, but they don’t want to put you through any undue stress. There are no “correct” answers to the interview questions. Every interview is unique because, at its core, it’s just a conversation between two individuals. 

Chris Su’s main advice is to be sincere, punctual, and polite. If you’re hitting those notes, you should be absolutely fine. It’s a conversation, he emphasizes, not an oral exam. 

About Your Interviewer

Alumni conduct the interviews, so there’s a ton of diversity among the pool of ECs. The Alumni Association has a series of profiles on notable alumni who run the gamut of entrepreneurs, engineers, research scientists, and data analysts, to name a few. 

You’ll know who your EC is when they reach out to schedule the interview. At that point, of course, you can Google them—Kim Hunter says this doesn’t put her off, but you shouldn’t rely too heavily on what you find. 

She cautions against connecting with them on social media before the interview, which will seem unprofessional. 

“The interview is about you,” says Chris Su, so while it never hurts to “be inquisitive,” you should come prepared to talk extensively about yourself. He wants to advocate for the prospective students he interviews, but he can only do that if they first advocate for themselves!  

MIT values wellness and a balanced life, as does former admissions director Matt McGann. He once advised a student concerned about her test scores to “have a picnic” instead of retaking the SATs. 

The most important thing to remember is that ECs are people too. They’re not sitting in the room with a secret checklist or waiting for you to say the wrong thing so they can reject you. They’re invested in your education, and they want you to succeed. 

Sample MIT Interview Questions and Answers 

Here are some MIT interview questions and answers to help you prepare.

Why Do You Want to Go to MIT?

MIT campus

This is the most common interview question you can expect to hear. With this question, the interviewer wants to know that you’ve done your research on the school and have made an informed decision. Be precise about what MIT offers and what you hope to learn if you attend.

Tell Me About Yourself 

This is another incredibly common question. Be prepared to give a concise but well-rounded answer—Chris Su suggests a one-minute response with key details about your upbringing, interests, and goals. This establishes a foundation you can build upon for the rest of the interview. 

When answering this, start with a very brief personal introduction, highlighting your academic background and any notable achievements. Then, discuss your extracurricular activities and interests outside of academics. 

It’s important not to speak about your academic achievements too much because the admissions committee already has that information on your application.

Finally, connect your experiences to MIT by demonstrating how they align with the institution's values and opportunities. Be authentic and enthusiastic, focus on aspects of your background most relevant to your application, and showcase your fit for MIT.

What Activities Did You Do in High School, and Why? 

high school soccer team

Extracurricular activities can showcase your connection and engagement with your school and can emphasize your leadership skills, initiative, and ability to collaborate. These are all qualities MIT looks for in its applicants. 

Limit your answer to three things. You don’t need to give a long list of all your accolades. You’ll want to tell them what you care about and how you spend your time. 

To answer this question, explain why you chose the three activities, emphasizing your passion and the skills you developed through them. Discuss how these experiences align with your academic interests and goals. 

What Activities Do You Do Outside of School, and Why? 

young female running in forest

Community engagement is important to MIT. Again, limit your answer to three things. Your interviewer wants to understand your passions and how you connect to the wider community. This is a great way to show you have a balanced life, which is important to MIT.

You can answer this question similarly to the previous one. However, it would help if you spoke about your activities outside of school rather than in it. Remember to relate the activities to your academic or career goals and aspirations. 

What Are Your Strengths?

young woman being interviewed in office

This is your opportunity to show yourself off! While humility is generally a virtue, you can highlight what makes you shine in this question. Think about some things you’ve done worth bragging about and frame them to relate to what MIT looks for in a successful applicant.  

You’ll want to answer this question by identifying specific strengths relevant to your academic pursuits and personal growth. Provide brief anecdotes demonstrating how these strengths have impacted your experiences or achievements. Be confident, genuine, and humble while highlighting your unique qualities.

What Are Your Weaknesses? 

female student thinking hard

This is always a tricky question to answer. Don’t discuss something that’s a strength (i.e., “sometimes I can be too organized!”). Your interviewer will see right through this. Instead, try to be honest but not overly self-deprecating. When did you fail at something, and what did you learn from the experience? Start there. 

The trick is to pick a genuine weakness you have had and take steps to improve. Discuss how you recognized this weakness, the actions you have taken to address it, and the progress you have made. 

These MIT admissions interview questions are meant to tell the interviewer more about yourself beyond your grades and test scores. Don’t be nervous; remember to be clear, confident, and concise with your answers! 

Top 5 Tips for a Successful MIT Admissions Interview

Below are five MIT admissions interview strategies to help you prepare and ace the process. 

1. Do Your Research On the School

Before the interview, exploring MIT’s values, mission, programs, and faculty is important. You can use this knowledge during the interview, which will help show the interviewer your enthusiasm for the school and what it offers. 

2. Highlight Your Achievements and Experiences

MIT seeks students who have demonstrated excellence and a drive to make an impact. Showcase your academic accomplishments, research projects, extracurricular involvements, and other experiences that highlight your skills and passions. 

Discuss how these achievements have shaped your academic journey, showing your commitment to learning and innovation.

3. Bring Something Cool

MIT encourages students to bring something interesting and worth sharing to the interview.  In the past, students have brought their laptops to show the websites they’ve built and editions to their school's newspaper to show a piece they’ve written.

If you decide to bring something, ensure you’re prepared to discuss it. Presenting and discussing your work will be a huge and crucial skill at MIT and beyond, and presenting something cool to your interviewer is a great opportunity to practice.

4. Dress Appropriately 

Ensure you dress appropriately for the MIT interview. However, this doesn’t mean you should show up in a three-piece suit. It is perfectly acceptable to wear the same clothes you wore to school that day, whether a uniform with a blazer, your team jersey with sneakers, or jeans and a non-offensive t-shirt. 

5. Prepare Questions For the Interviewer 

Preparing questions for the interviewer demonstrates your enthusiasm and genuine interest in the program and the institution. Take the time to research and think about aspects of MIT that you would like to learn more about, such as research opportunities and academic resources.

Here are some examples of questions to ask your MIT interviewer: 

  • What specific qualities and experiences are you looking for in successful MIT applicants?
  • Can you tell me more about the research opportunities available to undergraduate students at MIT?
  • What resources and support systems are in place to help students navigate their academics at MIT?

These thoughtful questions will showcase your proactive approach to learning. Remember, asking relevant and thoughtful questions not only benefits you but also helps leave a lasting impression on the interviewer.

FAQs: The MIT Application Interview 

Still feeling nervous about the interview process? Here are some FAQs to put your mind at ease. 

1. How Will I Find Out If I’m Getting an Interview at MIT? 

If you’ve been selected for an interview, your interviewer will email you. Monitor it closely because scheduling the interview from there will be your job. Check your spam or junk mailbox in case the email gets blocked.

2. What Is the Purpose of the Interview? 

MIT wants to know who you are beyond your grades and test scores. The interview is an opportunity to get to know you as an individual to see how you fit into the larger MIT community. It’s also your chance to talk to an alumnus about the school to see if you want to go there. 

3. Who Will Be Conducting the Interview? 

Somebody from the MIT Alumni Association will interview you. You’ll know who it is once they reach out to schedule the interview. 

4. What Should I Bring With Me? 

Firstly, don’t bring your transcripts, test scores, or recommendation letters. The ECs aren’t supposed to have that information. 

Kim Hunter suggests bringing something cool that showcases an interest or talent so that a portion of the interview can be akin to show-and-tell. This isn’t mandatory, but it’ll give you something to connect over and help you stand out from the rest of the interviewees. 

Finally, bring your questions! This is your chance to talk to somebody who’s been there—they want to answer your questions about student life, classes, picking a major, or whatever else you’re curious about. Chris Su says that if somebody asks him something he doesn’t have an answer for, he’ll look it up and get back to them. 

5. What Should I Wear? 

You’ll want to look professional but feel comfortable. Don’t wear pajamas, but don’t dress for the opera either. You should feel confident going into your MIT interview, so your outfit choice should be whatever makes you feel your best. 

6. What Happens After the Interview?

Your EC will write a report about the interview. The report goes into your application folder for the admissions committee to review. You don’t have to do anything else at this stage. Your application is complete! You’ll get your decision soon after

7. Is It Okay to Turn Down the Interview? 

You’re not required to accept the interview, but you should take it if it’s offered. It’ll show the school that you’re serious about attending. Historically, however, MIT has tended to accept a higher proportion of applicants who participated in interviews compared to those who declined.

8. What If I Don’t Get an Interview? 

That’s okay! Even with over 5,000 volunteer ECs from the Alumni Association, there aren’t enough people to interview each applicant. Don’t stress if you aren’t offered an interview—it won’t adversely impact your application. 

9. Do All MIT Applicants Receive Interviews?

No, not all MIT applicants are given interviews. The school tries to provide as many interviews as possible to applicants. However, availability is limited. It’s important to note that if your interview is waived, it will not affect your chances in the admissions process.

10. What Does It Mean If MIT Wants to Interview You?

If you’re given the opportunity to interview for MIT, the school wants to get to know you further. The MIT admission interview will allow you to tell admissions more about who you are beyond your academics. 

Since high-ranking tech schools like MIT are so competitive, they want to ensure they’re making the most informed decision on your candidacy!

11. How Long Is the MIT Sloan Interview?

The MIT Sloan interview is 30 minutes long, maximum. It is known to be one of the shortest interviews for an MBA program. 

12. What Is the Interview Rate for MIT Applicants?

Approximately 18% of applicants receive an interview invitation. As you can see, the interview rate is low. It’s important to note that not receiving an interview does not put you at a disadvantage. 

Final Thoughts 

The MIT interview can seem daunting because of how prestigious MIT is, but the ECs genuinely care about you. Ben Jones, former Director of Communications for the MIT Office of Admissions, says, “I have a list of all the applicants whose stories changed my life.” The connection you form in the interview can last a lifetime. 

If you take one thing away, let it be this: the MIT admissions interview is not an interrogation. It’s a conversation with a person. Come prepared, certainly, but don’t overthink it. According to MIT’s website, the most important thing is to be yourself

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