A scary, nerve-wracking part of the college admissions process is the college alumni interview. Alumni interviews are conducted on a volunteer basis by alumni of the university. College alumni interviews do matter and they can be a helpful way for you to gain more insight about a university and meet someone who graduated from the school you’re applying for!
When applying to colleges, I went to a handful of alumni interviews. Since then, I’ve had interview experience applying to organizations at UC Berkeley and applying to jobs post-grad. I’ve also had experience interviewing students through my positions in Residential Life at UC Berkeley. From having experience interviewing and being interviewed, I’ve compiled some tips on how you can ace your college alumni interview:
1. Basic Interview Etiquette: These tips are probably told to you by your parents or friends every time you go to an interview. I want to remind you of them here.
2. Research the school and think of practice answers to popular questions. Basically, know why you’re applying to the school. Here are some questions that I would always prepare. I would write down some talking points or examples that I would want to talk about and then practice answering these questions without stumbling my words. For more questions, usually I would just google “popular interview questions” or “college alumni interview questions” and you could use those to practice and prepare answers for.
3. Be prepared for tough/odd questions. Knowing your story and being able to answer the basic questions will be helpful when you get the more difficult questions that come up. For me, an odd question that I got in an alumni interview was: “what is something that I wouldn’t know about you from a google search?” The alumni interviewer said that they google everyone they interview, so that is why they ask this question. Taken aback, I did not answer this question well. My answer definitely was something that someone could find on google, because I talked about an internship experience that I had.
If you practice fake interviews, you will become better at thinking on your feet. After participating in a bunch of interviews in college and during my job search, I definitely could answer this question now without skipping a beat.
4. Have questions to ask the interviewer. A red flag for me when interviewing others is when they have zero questions for me. It shows that maybe the person doesn’t actually care that much about the position they are applying for or it may show that the person didn’t do their research before coming to the interview. Even if you could have all your questions answered from a google search or from the college website, you should still have questions prepared for your college alumni interview.
Questions in the alumni interview can allow you to gain more insight about what the university is like, so make the most of it! This person is someone who went to the university so they probably have a lot of unique insights that you can not find on a college website. Some sample questions you could ask are:
5. Practice fake interviews! This is super important. Get a family member or friend to do practice interviews with you. Someone else would ask you practice questions and then you would give your answer. For me, I like to practice interviews alone by asking myself questions and then answering them. You do not want to sound super robotic or rehearsed during your interview though. The point of practicing is to help with your nerves and to help you form sentences that are coherent and get your point across.
Rachel is the founder of Study Hall College Consulting. Rachel graduated from UC Berkeley in the Class of 2020 where she double majored in Cognitive Science and Legal Studies. For more college application and essay tips, check out our Study Hall College Consulting website at: shcollegeconsulting.com.