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Dartmouth College Alumni Interview Program

Thank you for being part of the Dartmouth College Alumni Interview Program. We hope that these pages will assist you in your efforts and help to make your interviewing experiences enjoyable and productive. If, after reviewing these pages, you still have questions about the process, please contact your District Enrollment Director (DED) or the regional admissions staff member for your area.


Alumni Interview Program Guidelines/Best Practices

  1. The Purpose of Alumni Interviews
  2. The Role of an Alumni Interviewer
  3. Who can be an Alumni Interviewer?
  4. Setting up the Interview
  5. Interview Location
  6. Conducting the Interview
  7. The Interview Report
  8. Sample reports

Helpful Information

FAQ

  1. Interviewing
  2. General Admissions

Appendix

Videos

  1. October 2013 Alumni Interviewing Cycle Kick-off Webinar
 



I. The Purpose of Alumni Interviews

Alumni Interviews both enhance the application review process for Undergraduate Admissions and support Dartmouth's mission to engage alumni in the work of the college

In the Undergraduate Admissions process, the alumni interview is both informative and evaluative. It is an opportunity for an applicant to learn about Dartmouth from an undergraduate alumnus/a and provides the Admissions Committee with an additional perspective from the alumnus/a who has met with the candidate in person.

II. The Role of an Alumni Interviewer
An interviewer is a valuable source of information, providing a local contact to applicants and their families and serving as an invaluable resource for the Admissions Office. Interviewers often help put a candidate's achievements "into context" for the Admissions Committee.

Responsibilities:

III. Who can be an alumni interviewer?
In order to best represent the undergraduate experience at Dartmouth, only undergraduate alumni are eligible to interview on behalf of Dartmouth.

Potential conflicts of interest, either real or perceived by applicants, will inform a volunteer's eligibility:

      • Interviewers cannot be employed by an admissions, financial aid, or a related office at Dartmouth or at another undergraduate institution.
      • Interviewers may not currently be working as a college admission or counseling professional, including high school guidance counselor or independent consultant , and may not provide any services relating to college applications such as essay writing, test prep or application review.
      • Interviewers may not represent more than one undergraduate institution in the same admissions cycle.
      • Interviewers should refrain from interviewing applicants they know personally or when a social/professional relationship exists between the interviewer and the applicant's family. Alumni are welcome to submit an additional recommendation on behalf of the student should they wish, but the alumni interview is best conducted by another interviewer.
      • Interviewers with an immediate family member applying to Dartmouth should inform their DED and are expected to refrain from interviewing during that cycle. DEDs should inform the Admissions Office and are also expected to take a sabbatical during the cycle their family member is in the applicant pool.

IV. Setting up the Interview
Once your DED has assigned you an interview, you will receive the applicant's contact information through I-track. Interviews can be set up by email or by phone, though email is often the most efficient way to contact.

      • Whether contacting applicants by email or phone, clearly identify yourself as a Dartmouth alumni interviewer.
      • When scheduling the interview, be sensitive to time and transportation issues. Both applicants and interviewers are very busy people with school, work and family obligations. Try to find a time that is mutually agreeable to both parties.
      • Remember that interviews are optional for the applicant. If the applicant does not wish to have an interview, simply note this on the interview report. If you don't hear back from an applicant after reaching out to set up the interview, feel free to try a different mode of communication or a second e-mail or phone call. If after a second attempt the student does not respond, please make a note in I-track that the candidate did not respond to your invitation and move on to the next candidate.

V. Interview Location
Consistent with Dartmouth's Code of Conduct for Interaction with Minors, alumni interviews should occur in a public location, mutually agreeable to the applicant and interviewer. Examples of public spaces include a coffee shop, library or bookstore. When meeting in a public location, please make sure the student will know how to identify you (Dartmouth apparel, for example). If you conduct interviews in your workplace, the office door should remain open or ajar. Interviews should not be conducted in the home of the interviewer or the applicant.

VI. Conducting the Interview
Alumni interviewers act as representatives of Dartmouth in the community and should create a mutually respectful environment. Try to set a conversational tone during the interview and remember that if you are comfortable and relaxed, the student will likely be as well. No matter the strength of the applicant, s/he should leave the interview feeling good about themselves and about Dartmouth. The interview should last 30-45 minutes, including time for the applicant to ask his/her questions at the end. For sample questions, see http://www.dartmouth.edu/~interviewers/interviewing/questions.html.

During the interview, do:

      • Convey your enthusiasm and professionalism.
      • Use appropriate language and ask pertinent questions
      • Ask open-ended questions to promote conversation. Ex. "what is important to you in a college?"
      • Give the applicant ample time to think, respond and expand
      • Make sure you are conveying accurate information about Dartmouth. Keep yourself as informed and updated as possible. Good sources of information include the College website (www.dartmouth.edu), the Admissions website (www.dartmouth.edu/admissions), and Dartmouth Now (now.dartmouth.edu)

Do not:

      • Ask about GPA, SAT, Class rank, or other numerical measures
      • Ask if Dartmouth is their first choice (If an applicant volunteers this information, that is fine, but it is not necessary to include this in the report. Consider asking the applicant "What is important to your in a college?" instead )
      • Ask where else they are applying (Again, if an applicant volunteer's the information, that is fine, but it is not necessary to include this in the report)
      • Make disparaging comments about any secondary or post-secondary institutions
      • Create any impression or expectation, positive or negative, about the applicant's probability of admission
      • Initiate conversation that makes the applicant uncomfortable or that is overly personal. Ex. "Do you have a boyfriend?"

VII. The Interview Report
Write your report as soon as possible after the interview has concluded to assure accuracy and thoroughness. The priority deadline to submit interview reports is typically mid-November for Early Decision and mid-February for Regular Decision. The Admissions Office will continue to accept reports past the priority deadline. However, submission on or before the priority deadline will ensure that the interview report is added to an applicant's file in a timely manner during application review.

When writing your report, do:

      • Provide any insight and context that you may have which may not otherwise be available to the admissions office.
      • Talk about the applicant's intellectual/professional interests and the motivation for these interests
      • Highlight impressions or observations about the student and their potential contributions to the Dartmouth community
      • Assess the applicant's personality, maturity, and ability to communicate ideas

Do not:

      • Describe students in physical, racial, religious, sexual or other stereotypic terms
      • Compare applicants against each other during the interview or in the report. It is fine to make "best applicant I've interviewed this year" type of comments in a report, but you should not make direct comparisons against applicants.  For an example, see Sample Interview Reports.

Below, you will find a collection of excerpts from actual interview reports submitted to the admissions office. These passages are provided to help you understand what information can be useful as you write your reports.

VIII. Sample Interview Reports

Below are samples of interview reports that the Admissions Office would like to highlight as useful examples when considering how to write your alumni interview report. It is best to try and write your report as soon after the interview as possible, to try and capture your impressions before too much time has passed. Being concise is often helpful, but particular for unusual or unique applicants, feel free to write as much as is needed to capture the interaction with the individual applicant.

Regarding the ratings, please focus on the prose in the report and less on the overall rating. Most applicants to Dartmouth are among the top 5% of all high school students so nearly all of them are "outstanding" when compared to a typical high school student. In order for the ratings on the alumni interview report to be useful, interviewers need to make very fine distinctions. Depending on the number of candidates you have interviewed and/or the length of time you have served as an alumni interviewer, it can be difficult to calibrate to these ratings. A significant majority of candidates should fall in the "Acceptable" and "Desirable" categories. The top two categories are for students with exceptional talents, accomplishments, and potential. Again, please focus on capturing the context and interaction of your interview through the prose of the report. While the Admission Office does utilize the rating, the prose often offers the most helpful information.

This section has been organized into the following sections:

  1. Helpful prose from a positive/strong interview
  2. Unhelpful prose from a positive/strong interview
  3. Helpful prose that adds a new dimension or additional context to the application
  4. Helpful prose from a fine applicant that does not stand out
  5. Inappropriate prose for an alumni interview report

1. Helpful prose from a positive/strong interview

[Martha] is not just intellectually engaged, she is intellectually obsessed. A budding physicist, she parlayed a school project into a paid position at NASA. She treated me to several mini-lectures, covering topics ranging from the nature of gravitational force in a black hole to the ethics of a proposed space project that will send humans on a one-way trip to Mars. In short, a fascinating kid...[Martha] has been going her own way for a long time. She knows who she is, and what she likes. I am giving her the highest rating because she clearly is a rare individual, perhaps not the best candidate for Dartmouth in terms of well-roundedness, but truly distinctive to the extent that I haven't interviewed anyone else quite like her.

[Derek]'s intellectual curiosity is off-the-charts. As a sort of joke, we started the interview by asking him about existentialism. [Derek] didn't take the question as a joke. Instead, he enthusiastically launched into his definition of existentialism and went on to tell us that it's very interesting but completely wrong, and then told us why. Then, later in the interview [Derek] told us that his main hobby is building air cannons that
shoot things ranging from potatoes to cantaloupes. He talked about the cannons with great humor and passion...Usually, when I ask kids to tell us something about themselves, they start in on classes and extra-curriculars. [Derek] immediately started talking about his family and godparents... [Derek] is an incredibly interesting, multi-faceted individual. He is very personable, a great conversationalist, and has a fun sense of humor. The more we spoke with him, the more convinced I am that he belongs at Dartmouth.

2. Unhelpful prose from a positive/strong interview

[Lisa] is a fabulous applicant, great scores, grades and engagement in the classroom. You should absolutely admit her.

It is likely that Lisa is in fact a great applicant and the rest of her application supports the above statement. However, please add more detail and explanation why you have come to the above conclusion.

This guy is great! Huge SAT scores. Plays piano. Top 5 nationals in academic decathlon. Top 2 in Texas. Huge gpa (4.6). Great in math and econ. Very well spoken. One of the top students I've ever interviewed.

Elaborate on the last two sentences with more details and explanation why. The rest of this information would be available to the Admissions Office through the student's application materials.

3. Helpful prose that adds a new dimension or context to the application

Most of the students that I interview attend the same high school I did - an excellent private school in the xxx Area. [Cynthia] obviously doesn't have the polish and eloquence that those students have. However, I realized that I am used to a world where everyone is attached to their iPhones 24/7 and I am not sure if [Cynthia] even has a computer in her home. She obviously has not had many of the advantages that other Dartmouth applicants have had, but she has made the most of what she has and become an active leader in her community.

He wants to be a community leader. First he wants to get on his feet, establish a family and then help the community. His plan is to return to xxx and help kids like himself. He was never in a gang but knows lots of people in jail. They are not his friends. He took a completely different track. Things to know:

      • No one helped him with his essays except to proof them.
      • He's proud of the single B+ he got because it was his best effort, even though it cost him valedictorian honors.
      • Dartmouth attracted him first because of the research of Professor xxx.
      • He's steady...wise beyond his years... very much poised and older than his 17 years.

[Patrick] is able to straddle many worlds well with integrity and as such seems to break down barriers as well. He is the kind of kid you want to live next door to you. He listens and is compassionate and tries to get along with everyone. Unlike most students I've interviewed, his level of comfort in talking to adults is refreshing as he genuinely wants to talk and trade thoughts. [Patrick] would clearly fit in and join right into the Big Green spirit.

4. Helpful prose for an applicant that does not stand out among many qualified applicants

On paper, [Eric] appears extremely intellectually engaged...In person, however, [Eric] seems driven by his parents and in meeting their expectations adding little of his own intellectual curiosity...when asked what sentence or two I should write for the Admissions Committee that would put him in the best light, his answer was "Well, um, I guess, like, well, you know, like you could say 'I like to think about stuff.'"... He strikes me as an intelligent young man with significant mental gifts who has not been given an opportunity to develop his own passions and interests. He could very well blossom in college, but he could as easily spend his time with on-line fantasy games while doing just enough to get grades his parents find acceptable... I don't fault [Eric] for this, but I do think there are other applicants with a bit more maturity and intellectual balance who can contribute more to the college experience.

[Sarah] presented many great qualities that Dartmouth is looking for in an applicant: smart, well-rounded, committed to leadership, and successful. I just don't see what sets her apart from the others. She seemed slightly disinterested in academia, and I found it tough to engage her in any sort of discussion surrounding such a topic. She also did not elaborate much on any of the questions I asked her about her experiences or her background. She is certainly an acceptable candidate, but based off my interview with her, I would not classify him as possessing a desirable package for admission into Dartmouth.

Ultimately I found [Jenny] to be a polite candidate, but not a terribly well prepared one. Her answers to numerous searching questions were short and perfunctory. She didn't seem ready to engage in a discussion of her interests, accomplishments to date, goals for higher education, or state of affairs in the world. I feel bad saying it, but I was disappointed.

[Avery] seemed to have average intellectual curiosity. She expressed excitement about her literature and history classes, but didn't expound much on what it was about what in the subject matter she found fascinating and why... My guess is that [Avery] does well in school and even participates actively in class, but I didn't get the sense that there was a strong intellectual drive behind her performance... The biggest reservation I had was her rather simplistic answers to my probing questions about her classes and school politics.

[Dennis] does not appear to have specific talents or attributes which cause him to stand out from other applicants, or lead one to believe that he would make a specific strong contribution to the college academically or to the college community.

5. Inappropriate prose for an alumni interview report

She's American-borne of Indian parents; her accent is strictly American.

Although she claims not been much of an athlete, I think I have convinced Anne to try out for women's Crew—she looks to have strong arms.

It is not appropriate to describe a student in physical, racial, religious, sexual or other stereotypic terms, nor is it necessary to comment on a student's accent.

Having just filed a report for Ken's classmate and friend, William, I will draw a few comparisons here and there between them.

Do not make specific comparisions against, either during the interview or in the report. It is fine to note "best from this school" or "best interview this year/ever", but not by making direct comparisions against applicants.

Apart from Dartmouth, Michael has applied to...

Please do not ask where else the student is applying. If an applicant volunteer this information, that is fine, but it is not necessary to include this in the report. Instead, consider asking the student "What is important to you in a college"?

Emma did not seem to know very much about Dartmouth, and was concerned about the cold.

It is not necessary to comment on the applicant's level of interest in Dartmouth. If an applicant volunteers this information, that is fine, but it is not necessary to include this in the report.

 

Last Updated: 10/17/13