I used to do alumni interviewing for Cornell University. I enjoyed meeting the students, and I hope they got a good impression of the school from me.
Alumni interviews aren’t going to make or break your college acceptance, but they will add another dimension to your college application and give you a direct connection to the school you might not otherwise have had.
Here are 6 tips to turn an average alumni interview into an excellent one:
1. Dress nicely. Don’t wear anything too short, low-cut, or cut off.
2. Arrive on time. Offer a firm handshake and greet the interviewer by name.
3. Be prepared to discuss why you want to go to his or her school. The more specific you can be the better, so do your homework. If you’re vamping the interviewer will know it immediately.
4. Be ready with questions. Don’t be shy about asking for information. Part of the purpose of the alumni interview is to sell the school to you. Alumni are very interested in sharing their experience and knowledge and will go out of their way to get your questions answered. I’ve set up phone calls with sports coaches and found names of specific instructors for students who have asked.
5. Target some of your questions based on when the interviewer graduated. If the interviewer graduated recently you can ask about teachers they’d recommend or the dorms they stayed in. If the interviewer is older you might ask how alumni remain active after graduation, or how they’ve seen the school change.
6. Follow up immediately with a thank you note.
I’ve been greeted at my door by students wearing cut-offs and flip-flops. I’ve been told by students that they don’t have any questions for me. When you’re an alum you know when a student is interested and when they’re not. Be interested.