Honestly, the interview is formatted as a conversation that just allows the admission counselors here to get to know you a little better, and to bring you out of the written application and into the third dimension, so to speak. Just bring your honest, fearless self and let the intertia of conversation do the rest. Holly also gave a beautiful answer to this question that you should check out here.
The Interview process is much like everything else at Bennington: A conversation. When a counselor or student intern reads an application, they are looking for questions that would hopefully spark an awesome discussions for the student and counselor alike.
There is no grilling about why you got a C in Math third quarter Junior year. No one will ask you to recite a poetry piece or quiz you on the cultural-economic background in The Sound and the Fury (but a good discussion could be had if you wanted).
So remember to relax - the interviews are really meant to be as enjoyable as they can be. Good luck, everyone!
- Brandon L.
You should ask! Usually your admissions counselor will mention it when you get in contact with them, but as long as you let us know you want one, we’ll do our best to schedule a phone/skype/in-person interview. While we don’t require an interview, we really strongly recommend one, since it helps us get a finer sense of who you are and how you think.
The Bennington interview really isn’t in a strict question-answer format. Instead, a counselor will have a one-on-one conversation with you. It’s a much more natural way to talk and get to know you as a student and a person. During my interview we talked about international foods. Just relax and be yourself!
~ Holly, ‘13
So Bennington tries to do individual tours, which could be a little brutal for you because I always make people talk, but at least you’re only talking to me instead of having to meet a bunch of people. Also, I ask a lot of questions, so you don’t really have to make any conversation, just answer me.
As far as the interviews, all of the counselors are super chill, and I’m sure they meet plenty of shy people on a regular basis. It’s a very informal conversation, generally about whatever you’re interested in, so as conversations go for a shy person, I can’t imagine it gets much better.
Overall just don’t stress about it. We don’t bite, and even if something were to go horribly wrong, it’s not the be all and end all of the admissions process. It’s only a small part of it.
True! We do look at applications holistically and there is no one part of your application that necessarily outweighs the others. Obviously, grades on your transcript are very important, but so is your interview, so is your application essay, so are any of your supplementary materials you may decide to submit.
I’ll also refer you to India’s post from awhile ago about a similar question.
I’m not a counselor, unfortunately, so I can’t really speak to whether or not those grades would totally take you out of the running. I would guess that the rest of your application would be capable of outweighing the bad grades, but if that’s something you’re really worried about you can always talk to your counselor or submit a supplementary essay/explanation about why your grades for that semester were poor.
Bottom line, I don’t think this is the kind of thing that should keep you from applying. You definitely have room to explain your grades, and if you’re stellar at anything and passionate about your work, that will show through in the application. Keep yr chin up.
There’s absolutely no requirement for you to come and visit or do an in-person interview as part of the Admissions process (although we do love it when you guys do that!).
As far as visiting campus goes, that’s partially what this blog is for - allowing prospective students to get a sense of life at Bennington by looking vicariously through our eyes. Obviously there’s no parallel to seeing the real thing, but we do our best to give you enough information that would allow you to make an informed decision about whether or not you want to attend Bennington without having to visit.
As for the interview: while we don’t require an interview, we strongly, strongly encourage them. The good news is that they needn’t be in-person. We have several Admissions Counselors who are divided up by different states and regions; so each state has a counselor assigned to it (and we also have an international counselor). The best way to find out who your counselor is would be to call the Admissions Office at (802)-440-4312 and ask! The counselors make trips throughout their territories in the fall and can schedule in-person interviews at their various stops, OR we can get you in contact with them to schedule a phone interview.
Anyway, I hope that helps! We hope you come visit if that ever becomes a possibility!
It’s impossible to say, because the interview is a natural conversation. The counselors don’t go into the interview with a list of questions, they go into the interview with the intention of getting to know you. So if you’re really into physics, it’s a pretty good bet you’ll talk about physics. From what I can remember of my interview, we talked a lot about music and about the books I was reading right then. I also remember being pretty stressed before it started, and then being pleasantly surprised when it actually was just a conversation. All the counselors are pretty cool, so it’s usually fun.
You can really wear whatever you feel comfortable in, whether it’s a skirt/dress dealie (regardless of your gender), jeans and a nice (or not nice) top, etc.
I’m pretty sure I wore something ill-fitting that made me look like a frumpy junior office manager. I also arrived to my interview more than an hour early and sat in the parking lot freaking out because I was (am) nuts about being punctual.
When the interview finally got started it took me about 5 or 10 minutes to relax and realize that no one was going to ask me a question like “What is your greatest weakness?” or “Why should you be accepted to Bennington?” Instead the person who interviewed me was incredibly nice and just wanted to know about what I was interested in and liked to do.
If I could go back in time I would have worn something that made me feel good (in my case, garish red lipstick) and tried to relax a bit and enjoy the opportunity to have a conversation with an admissions counselor (all of whom, I can now vouch for, are quite awesome).
Interviewer: There are some who say teaching doesn’t do the writer much good; in fact it restricts life and homogenizes experience. Isn’t a writer better off on the staff of The New Yorker, or working for the BBC? Faulkner fed a furnace and wrote for the movies.
Malamud: Doesn’t it depend on the writer? People experience similar things differently. Sometimes I’ve regretted the time I’ve given to teaching, but not teaching itself. And a community of serious readers is a miraculous thing. Some of the most extraordinary people I’ve met were students of mine, or colleagues. Still, I ought to say I teach only a single class of prose fiction, one term a year. I’ve taught since I was twenty-five, and though I need more time for reading and writing, I also want to keep on doing what I can do well and enjoy doing.
Interviewer: Humanity? Are you suggesting art is moral?
Malamud: It tends toward morality. It values life. Even when it doesn’t, it tends to. My former colleague, Stanley Edgar Hyman, used to say that even the act of creating a form is a moral act. That leaves out something, but I understand and like what he was driving at. It’s close to Frost’s definition of a poem as “a momentary stay against confusion.” Morality begins with an awareness of the sanctity of one’s life, hence the lives of others—even Hitler’s, to begin with—the sheer privilege of being, in this miraculous cosmos, and trying to figure out why. Art, in essence, celebrates life and gives us our measure.
Interviewer: It changes the world?
Malamud: It changes me. It affirms me.
Malamud: (laughs) It helps.
Short answer: Yes, to a degree.
Longer answer: Think of the interview as something that helps further define you as an applicant to the school. The way that Bennington evaluates students is through a very intentionally balanced process that seeks to get a good sense of an applicant’s personality and passions. Academic record; essays; interviews; supplemental materials - each of these application components can say something valuable about a Bennington applicant - maybe their GPA isn’t a 4.0, but in their interview, they have really insightful things to say about the courses they want to study. Or, maybe, they have trouble expressing what they really want to say about their art in the essay, but the supplemental paintings and drawings they provide are beautiful and provide a perfect denouement to the essay; something that just couldn’t be expressed in words.
Admission at Bennington is a highly individualized process, and each application is considered by multiple counselors and on multiple points of merit, including (but not limited to) the examples I mentioned above. The interview is a great way to get a sense of an applicant, but it doesn’t necessarily ‘outweigh’ the other components of the application.
Hope this answer was helpful!
An interview at Bennington is much more like a conversation than a formal interview. Someone asked a question similar to this just a couple days ago that I also answered so I would encourage you to check that one out! Mostly, they just want to hear what interests you, what you really love to do, what makes you tick…what are the things you most want to explore in your undergraduate education?
Bennington doesn’t look for “types”. The counselors don’t have a list of things that they check off as they talk to you or listen to what you have to say. In my opinion, you are “Bennington material” if you are a passionate and driven individual who is interested in seeing how things you love intersect, come together, and overlap. Just be honest in the interview and don’t think they want you to be something you are not.
Some topics covered in mine (which was done in a little cafe right by my house in San Francisco and lasted an hour and a half! so awesome): Romantic authors like Melville and Hawthorne, the Beat Poets, french food, where the best burritos in San Francisco are, and whether my hair could be considered “long” or not (in the email to her, I told her I would be the girl with long brown hair, but we had different opinions of what long meant haha).
After I got into Bennington, my counselor was back in San Francisco and took me out for a congratulations coffee. They really get to know you and want to spend the time helping you out.
-India K, ‘12