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How to Ace Your Alumni Interview

As students submit their Early Decision and Early Action applications, they may hear from an alumni interviewer in the coming days and weeks. Many mid-sized and larger private universities will offer interviews in the student's local area. These interviews are usually conducted by an alumnus or alumna of the university. While the alumni interviewer is a volunteer, they act on behalf of the university and provide written feedback on the student after the interview.

In preparation for your interview, here are some important things to keep in mind:

1. The alumni interviewer will not have access to your application.

They usually receive only basic information about you before reaching out to set up an interview: your name, contact information, major/program applying to, and possibly the high school you attend.

2. Don't be surprised if the alumni interviewer asks you to bring a resume. 

This is not required, but it helps the interviewer have a better sense of your academic and extracurricular story without seeing your application.

3. Most interviews take place in a public location, like a coffee shop.

Sometimes, the alumni interviewer asks the student to come to their place of business. It is no longer acceptable for the alumni interview to take place at the interviewer's home. If this is suggested, contact the admissions office and ask if you can be reassigned to another alumni interviewer.

"Make sure your #alumni interview is in a public location. If it's not, contact the admissions office." TWEET THIS

4. Interviews can be as short as 30 minutes and as long as an hour. 

5. The alumni interviewer writes a short report which is sent to the admissions office and added to the student's application.

Typically, these interviews don't carry as much weight as the required elements of the application as not every applicant can be interviewed due to time and available interviewers.

6. Dress business casual.

No need for a jackets, ties, or suits. Wear something you would put on for a weekly church or synagogue service.

7. Review why you applied to the university and the specific major or program in advance of the interview.

This question will surely come up in the interview.

8. Give a firm handshake (with your right hand) when you meet the interviewer and when you finish.

9. Use eye contact throughout the interview.

10. Be prepared to ask the interviewer a few questions.

If you can't think of a specific question, ask them what their favorite thing is about the university or why they chose to attend.

I know how nerve-wracking the first college interview can be. The good news is that in my 20 year career in college admissions, I can count on two hands the number of negative interview reports I have read from alumni interviewers. Hands down, the alumni interview is a positive experience for the student and the interviewer. So have fun and see it as another opportunity to share more details about yourself and why you applied.