How to prepare for the alumni interview

V P Blog

US universities have increasingly adopted the admissions interview in their application process. All the ivy league institutions have alumni interview programs. However, 7 of the 8 universities only recommend prospective students to interview with their alumni. Since the alumni groups may not be able to accommodate all prospective students, the schools do not make the interviews a requirement. Cornell is the only ivy league institution that requires alumni interviews for specific students: freshmen for the architecture program in the College of Architecture, Art, and Planning and for the School of Hotel Administration.

In order to prepare for the alumni interviews, here are the top 4 questions an interviewer might ask you:

Tell me about yourself.

Often times students start to panic when they hear this question. This is the perfect chance to pitch your elevator speech. You should start by talking about your background, high school, hobbies, and intended major.

Why did you apply to our school?

Do not answer it by saying “because of the small classes, prestigious reputation, and endless student clubs.” If you answer this question somewhat similar to the response above, then the interviewer would automatically know that you did not research the school. The best way to answer this question is to research specific courses, faculty, student organizations, and internship opportunities that you can expertly speak on.

What is your favorite extracurricular activity?

You might want to think about this question before the interview. What do you want the interviewer to remember about you? Since it is asking for your favorite activity, it should be an activity that you are passionate about. If you just answer volunteering as your favorite activity when you are not keen on it, the interviewer will notice right away and know that you are only trying to impress the interviewer.

Do you have any questions for me?

This question will probably be the last question the interviewer will ask you. Always be prepared and think of multiple questions you can ask. Do not ask generic questions that you could have found on their admissions website. Instead, think of personal questions. For example, how did you enjoy your time at the school? What was your favorite student club that you participated in?

If you research the school and practice before the interview, you should be fine. Don’t forget to send a thank you email after your interview!