The alumni interview is something that some, not all, schools offer. It’s a topic that we get a lot of questions on, from how to coordinate your interview and what to say to what to wear. Regardless of how much you’ve prepared for any individual school interview, though, it’s worth discussing. But how important is it, really?
The interview is absolutely important to take advantage of, regardless of its relative importance. Just like an optional essay, it’s critical to avail yourself of every opportunity that a college throws your way during the college application process. It shows interest, commitment, and dedication. You are taking time and energy out of your day that you didn’t have to in order to show your interest in the college, and that matters.
Additionally, the process of preparing for an interview inspires growth and expands your ability to discuss your background, motivators, and goals. These are all important skills. It might be the first interview you’ve had to prepare for in your life, and let’s just say that it’s a good idea to have at least one interview under your belt before you step onto a college campus.
What we tell our students about the interview process is that it won’t be a huge, overwhelming factor in the review of your application. But, in the case that you are on the cusp and your application is in the “maybe” pile, a glowing recommendation or write-up from your alumni interview could certainly push you over the edge. So in that sense, of course it matters. An interview can only really help you (unless you royally mess up, but how is that even possible with all of the preparation you’re doing?!).
Be sure that you are well-versed in preparation techniques for your interview. The most important thing is to craft and memorize a few stories about yourself. The stories are what stick. Let us know if you need any help brainstorming and crafting your stories, but you should be aiming for 2-3 unique anecdotes about you, your interests, and your goals. There should be some clear takeaways from your interaction with your interviewer and your stories will make you stand out. It’s always good to bring a resume with you so that they can reference it later, but don’t use your interview time to list out the items on your resume. They have it, so they don’t need you to tell them about it as well. Use your time with your interviewer wisely—ask questions, make them laugh, engage them—be yourself!
We’re here to help with anything you need, from interview prep to essay brainstorming and school list creation (not to mention everything in between). Give us a shout anytime.