By: Kailee Traficante
Editor’s Note: This year, for the first time, a 15-minute virtual interview will be required for admission to our four graduate degree programs (MDiv, MTS, MRPL, and ThM). This blog post answers some frequently asked questions about the interview and shares a few helpful interview tips and best practices.
This blog post has been updated as of January 2022.
All About the Interview
What is the purpose of the interview? Why add an interview to the application process this year?
The purpose of the admissions interview is quite simply to get to know applicants and their stories better! While the Admissions Committee will learn a lot about prospective students from their applications, the interview will give them an opportunity to get to know applicants at a more relational and human level — which is why an interview was added to the admissions process this year. The interview is also an opportunity for applicants to get to know HDS better and make sure that HDS is a good fit for them, as well.
What is the Admissions Committee hoping to learn about applicants during the interview?
In the interview, the Admissions Committee is primarily interested in learning the “three whys” about an applicant: 1) Why you? 2) Why Harvard Divinity School? 3) Why now? Applicants who have attended one of our recruitment events may have heard the HDS Admissions team mention these questions in a webinar session. Perhaps you’ve even used them as a source of reflection for your statement of purpose. These questions help the Admissions Committee learn more about each applicant’s personal story, their motivations for attending Harvard Divinity School, and how a graduate degree in ministry, religious, or theological studies will best serve their academic and professional pursuits.
The interviewers may ask applicants to elaborate on any past experiences or future goals that have been shared in their applications. They may also ask questions that gauge an applicant’s fit within the dynamic and diverse community at HDS, including questions about an applicant’s passions and interests beyond their academic pursuits. Importantly, they will also reserve time for applicants to ask them questions. After all, the interview is a mutual opportunity for both the Admissions Committee and the applicant to assess whether HDS is ultimately a suitable fit!
When will applicants know if they’ve been selected for an interview?
Interview invitations are extended to applicants starting in late January through early March. Please note that an interview invitation does not guarantee admission to our degree programs. All official admissions decisions will be released in mid-March.
Who is conducting the interviews?
Members of the Admissions Committee will serve as interviewers, including HDS Admissions Director Odeviz Soto, Associate Director Margaret Okada-Scheck, and Admissions Officer Alessandra Luedeking. Prospective students who have attended one or more of our admissions events throughout the year may have met them already.
Please note that interviewers will be determined at random based on an individual applicant’s availability and the availability of our interviewers.
Will interviews be virtual or in-person?
All interviews will be conducted virtually on our Slate video conferencing platform. An interview guide with more information about how to navigate this platform will be provided to candidates invited to interview.
Interview Best Practices
Editor’s Note: The following section is designed to provide those applicants invited to interview with some insight into what to expect. Please note that if you are invited to interview, you will be provided with an additional guide to help you navigate our virtual interviewing platform.
How should I prepare for my interview?
You can prepare for your interview by reflecting on your answers to the “three whys.” Your interviewer will be tailoring questions based on the information they learned about you in your application, so it might be helpful to revisit and reread your application.
Before any interview, it can be helpful to practice writing out some answers to potential questions and rehearsing your responses out loud, maybe to a friend or to the mirror; practicing your responses beforehand can help you iron out what you want to convey.
Finally, prepare some questions that you want to ask in the interview, as well! Your interview is a two-way conversation, and it is a great opportunity for you to ask any lingering questions that you have about HDS as you determine whether it is a good fit for you.
What should I expect during my interview?
Your interview will last 15 minutes. The interviewer will start off with some questions for you, and they’ll conclude by giving you some time to ask questions of them. Expect a conversational and easy-going atmosphere during your interview, and just have fun with it!
We hope this post was helpful as you prepare for your admissions interview. If you have any questions, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to chatting with you soon!