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Prepare for a College Alumni Interview | College Coach

Posted by admin on in College Advice |

describe the image So you’ve just submitted your application and you’re patiently waiting around to hear a response when – beep! – a surprise email lands in your inbox. “Greetings! ” the email starts. “My name is Mary Jones, and I’m the alumna assigned to conduct your interview just for Grand University. ” Whether the concept of an alumni interview puts a person completely at ease, or if you’re sensation nauseous at the prospect of flattering an alum, here are six secrets you should know to best prepare for your alumni interview.


6 Tips For Your College Alumni Job interview

one What exactly are alumni interviewers looking for?

When I trained the wonderful group of alumnae interviewers at Barnard University , I made sure that they many knew to provide feedback on applicants’ academic and extra-curricular interests, match the college, and general character. Whilst determining academic plus extra-curricular interests generally require straightforward questioning, ascertaining a student’s fit and character necessitates a bit more nuance. In addition to being prepared to chat about your future major and favorite interests, students should be ready to tackle more pointed questions like, “Why are you specifically interested in College X? ”

second . Do your research!

To help demonstrate your interest in the school, it’s important that you walk into the interview knowing particular details about the school that relate to your personal interests. For example , if you plan on majoring in biology, be sure to mention that you’ve heard amazing things about Professor Kelley and are excited to take his course on individual genetics. Similarly, if you mention that you’d like to study abroad, really want to share your enthusiasm to travel to Siena, Italy as part of the school’s language immersion program?

3. Alumni interview reports really are a small piece of a much larger admissions puzzle

While the alumni interview may feel as if it carries significant weight within the admissions process, the reality is that admissions officers place much more emphasis on your transcript, essays, test scores (for schools that require them), and   teacher recommendations. I recently polled the admissions experts here at College Coach, drawing from their collective experience working from over 30 selective colleges across the nation. Our conclusion? Weak interviews (in and of themselves) rarely knock a student from the admit to the deny stack. And, perhaps surprisingly, fantastic selection interviews don’t often boost a borderline student from the waitlist or defer pile into the admit category.

(We should note, however , that truly “bad” interviews – i. e. those that raised red flags with the interviewer – can negatively affect the outcome of an admissions choice. Telling your Penn alumni interviewer that Princeton is your first choice school is a prime example of exactly what not to do in your interview! And indeed, this has happened. )

4. Alumni selection interviews are as much about alumni relationships as they are about admissions

Most senior high school seniors don’t realize that alumni selection interviews really serve dual purposes. As the interview is evaluative, bear in mind that alumni interviews are also for the benefit of the alumni themselves. For a variety of factors (development and fundraising being main among them), colleges like to maintain their alumni engaged. And don’t forget, your assigned alum is conducting interviews because he or she really loves their school and is excited to connect with young people who share a similar interest. This is not someone to fear!

5. Be ready to ask questions at the conclusion of the interview

When the interviewer finally leans back and asks, “So, do you have any questions for me? ” here’s your opportunity to let the alum do some talking! Alumni interviewers universally love chatting about their universities, sharing tidbits about their own educational experiences, and reminiscing about the illustrates of their college careers. Questions which are appropriate to ask an alumni interviewer include, “Can you tell me why you choose College X? ” and “How do you feel attending University X prepared you for your career? ” As a former alumni interviewer for Dartmouth College, I was normally a bit disappointed when students would simply respond, “No, I don’t possess any questions. I think I’m good! ”

6. Expect the unexpected

No matter how ready you are, or how experienced your interviewer may be, alumni interviews can vary drastically based upon the age and personality of the interviewer. You may be asked a unique or difficult question during the course of the interview (e. g. “What enables you to so special? Why should we consider you ? ”). Do your best to answer it within an honest and mature way, even though if you truly don’t know the response to the question, it’s okay to acknowledge that! Many alumni interviewers are also looking to engage freely in conversation with students, and appreciate when students don’t simply wait for questions to be asked. Stay true to yourself, plus let your love of learning and enthusiasm for the college glow through!

If you’re concerned that you won’t present well within an interview environment, practice! Practice shaking hands (mom or dad would be happy to oblige), practice answering queries like, “Tell me about yourself, ” and practice smiling from yourself in the mirror while explaining how you spent the prior summer. The skills a person learn now will help you down the road when it’s time to apply for that very first internship or job. Best of luck on your own upcoming interviews!



Elyse Krantz is a member of University Coach’s team of college admissions experts . Prior to becoming a member of College Coach, Elyse worked within admissions at Barnard College plus Bennington College.

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