What if I screwed up the Duke interview?

By Maxine Seya

What if I screwed up the Duke interview?

– Lishan, a college applicant

You’d be surprised at how often interviewees misinterpret their performance. You might think you talked too much, but the interviewer found you sociable. You might think you took too long to answer questions, but the interviewer found you pensive and thoughtful. You might think you seemed too eager, but the interviewer found you spirited. Of course, it’s also possible that you think you nailed it, but the interviewer couldn’t stand you.

So first of all, let’s remember that your opinion of your interview doesn’t matter as much as the interviewer’s opinion.

Now, assuming the interviewee agreed that you did screw it up, here’s what Duke admissions interviewer, Ruturaj, told us:

“They [the admissions committee] use our personal input for the candidate, then they make a decision as a team – the admissions team does – based on what their feedback is, from their more on-paper resumes, what they [applicants] were doing before this, what they studied in undergrad, their grades, their…scores. There’s a lot of applicants, so it helps them…”

And if you’re worried about your performance, Ruturaj says it’s not about being perfect. You are just one piece of a whole. A chapter of a story. A part of a body.

“I will say this: there were times when I felt that someone might not have the strength in this arena, but they balanced it out with something else.

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Maxine Seya
Maxine Seya is a former investigative journalist, college consultant, and admissions interviewer. She studied at Peking University (Beijing, China) and Université Paul-Valéry (Montpellier, France) and investigated for CNN and Huffington Post before graduating from Northwestern University. She founded SocratesPost to share the human stories behind the admission gates and offer parents clarity as they help their teens with college.