How to Ace the Alumni Interview
For college applicants, the fall of senior year is a time to be alert. Just because the applications might be ready or already sent doesn’t mean it’s time to relax just yet. During the fall is when certain students might be taking part in alumni interviews. Here’s everything you need to know about the alumni interview and some tips for how to make the best impression.
What is the alumni interview?
The alumni interview is offered to certain applicants as a chance for the college and alumni to get to know the student better. Not every student will receive an alumni interview, however. While not receiving an alumni interview is not necessarily a bad thing, the interview can only help your chances of getting admitted. To increase the probability of getting an interview, students should consider applying Early Decision or Early Action.
The alumni interview is a little bit like a job interview. It’s a chance for the interviewer to see how the student could fit in with the school, and how well the school adapts to the student’s wants and needs. By asking a series of questions from academic to personal, the alumni gets to know the information that is not necessarily obvious from the application. This is the chance for the student to have their voice heard and personality shine. Here’s how to ace it.
In general, the alumni interview should be a lot less stressful then a job interview. Alumni are not expecting perfection. They know that the prospective students don’t need to have it “all figured out” just yet. What they’re looking for is a genuine interest in the school and a passion for life in and out of the classroom. If you’re positive and relaxed, that’s the most important thing. The alumni interview is an added bonus for applicants, and it can only help your case.
The alumni interview is not just for the interviewer to gain information about the applicant. It’s for you, the student, too! Not only do alumni love talking about their alma mater, but you’ll gain some extra points by expressing an interest in their academic and professional paths. Use this time to ask questions about not just academics, but the social vibe on campus, the networking or research opportunities, their favorite part of college. Even if they attended the school many years ago, the information that they can offer you is unique.
Memorize your Resume
A lot of students freeze in high-pressure situations, and during the alumni interview is not the time to forget what you’ve done over the past four years of high school. It might even be useful to share a printout of your CV with your interviewer. Make sure you know how to explain what you did in your extracurricular activities, what volunteering experiences were important to you, and what books have had an impact on your life. Know your own narrative.
Avoid “I don’t know”
It’s normal that you don’t know right off the bat what you’re going to do in college, but these three words can be red flags to alumni and admissions officers in general. It’s okay not to know, but you will benefit from avoiding the phrase as much as possible. Focus on what you do know. Have some ideas in mind of people you admire, companies you could see yourself working for, or books you could consider writing one day. Even if you’re not completely sure, act it!
Allow for spontaneity
Finally, you shouldn’t be “too prepared” for the interview. Having stock answers memorized does not make for an engaging interview. Allow yourself to be in the moment, to respond genuinely and to be creative with your responses. If you are really interested in the school, your curiosity will speak for itself.
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Neal Schwartz, Owner
Neal Schwartz, Owner
College Planning of Westchester
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