Alumni Interviews, It's Not Too Late

Few schools offer on-campus interviews, but almost all colleges encourage prospective students to meet with an alum. And while alumni interviews rarely make or break an application, simply requesting the interview shows interest on the applicant's part. This is why they are important.  

It doesn't matter if the student has already submitted an early application or is about to submit a regular decision app, requesting a meeting with an alum is a feather in the applicant's cap. If the student presents himself well and the alumnus writes up a favorable report, all the better!

Preparing for the interview:  typically, the student will receive an introductory email from the alum with a location and a variety of dates/times for the meeting. It's important to reply asap even if the dates don't work, and to suggest a number of other options.  Once a date is arranged, the student should confirm the meeting the day before as a courtesy (brownie points can matter).  Email your resume in advance to the interviewer so that he/she has some background and can prepare questions.

Be prepared to answer questions about academics (favorite/least favorite subjects; a project you're most proud of; a challenge you faced and how you overcame it) and about extra-curriculars (why you play a certain sports position; compose the type of music you do; what motivates your interests).

Also be prepared to ASK good questions. After all, here's someone who spent four years at the school you may attend so pick his/her brain!  “What is unique about this college? What were the best experiences you had there and how did those experiences shape who you are today? Who were the people who made it this school special for you? Serving as an alumni interviewer is a labor of love, so what is it that makes you love this school?”

Take notes - it is perfectly okay to come to the interview with notebook in hand, and to jot down tidbits here and there. Not every word the interviewer says, but the key points he/she makes that stand out to you.  It will reflect well to include some of these points in your thank you email which should be sent within 24 hours of the interview.

Dress appropriately - a three-piece suit is not necessary, but business casual, meaning dress pants and a collared shirt are. No jeans, no sneakers, no sandals. Girls: no super short skirts, revealing blouses, or 5" heels. Treat this as if it were a job interview at an old-fashioned company not a hip start-up.

Mock Interviews - of course the best way to prep for an interview is the go through a mock interview with a college counselor. This not only allows the student to polish responses, but provides the student with the confidence he/she needs for the real thing. To schedule a mock interview, contact franca@readysetcollege.nyc