Tales from an Alumni Interviewer
You get out of class, check your phone, and besides some new snaps and instas, you have a new email. It’s from someone you don’t know and they’re talking about how much they love Emory, what year they graduated, and when they want to meet you at a nearby coffee shop. This is the experience of the alumni interview. If you live in one of the 12 cities where Emory alumni interview prospective freshmen, then you could find yourself staring at the email on your phone wondering “What should I talk about with this complete stranger?” or “How much should I prepare for this interview?” or “How can I make a good impression?”
As an Emory alum and one of the Co-Chairs of the Emory Alumni Interview Program in the San Francisco Bay Area, I am happy to let you in on a few tips that will help you easily answer those questions and make your interview experience a success!
What should I talk about?
Luckily, you already have a lot of talking points in your application. Your alumni interviewer hasn’t seen your application so don’t be afraid to share a tidbit or two. But if there is something important about you that didn’t make it into the application, share that too! Remember that feeling you had when you were applying? That feeling that there is so much more to you than what comes across in a transcript, resume, and essays? Well this is your chance to share that side of you! With alumni interviews, focus on one or two ideas – no need to cram everything about you into a 20-30 minute conversation.
How much should I prepare?
Looking back at your application can be a good refresher. Then think about something that gets you excited about the world. Whether that’s your artwork, sports teams, volunteering, reading the latest science journals, your debate team, or even attending one of this year’s presidential election events, alumni love to hear about your interests. All you have to do is think about which one(s) you want to talk about and that’s as much preparation as you need.
How can I make a good impression?
This is even easier than you might think! But it starts long before you show up for your interview. Be sure to respond to emails from your alumni interviewer within a day or two. Plot out your travel plans in advance so you can show up a few minutes early. Be sure to account for traffic and finding parking (bonus points for telling your interviewer what you’ll be wearing). Lastly, one of the best ways to impress your interviewer is to ask questions about their experiences. This shows that you’re taking your college decision seriously and you want to learn from their time at Emory or Oxford. Plus you’ll get to hear why so many alumni are passionate about Emory – that passion is infectious!
What happens if you don’t live in one of the cities where alumni interviews are offered?
It’s okay! The same thing happened to me when I applied to Emory. Sometimes you can find local alumni who attended Emory or Oxford (ask your college counselor) or sometimes you can meet them at a local college fair or Emory information session. They won’t have a say on your admission decision (and it certainly will not hurt your application if you don’t have an interview), but you’ll be able to hear their stories, understand what they liked (and didn’t like) about Emory, and determine if Emory or Oxford is the right school for you.
And that’s the most important question you should be asking yourself – not what to say or how to prepare or how to impress – but rather “Is Emory or Oxford the right choice for me? When I think about where I want to be in 4 years and who I want to be, can Emory help get me there?” Luckily – one of the best ways to answer those questions is to ask that stranger who sent you an email. So as you type your response and put the selected date/time in your calendar, just remember that your alumni interview is not about alumni, and it’s not even really about an interview – it’s about you and your future college. Will it be Emory? I hope so! Then we can be alumni together!
Nicolai Lundy 09C*
Currently lives in San Francisco, CA and works as an Education Product Manager for the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board.
*Emory University uses these abbreviations to designate graduation year. For example, Nicolai graduated in 2009 from Emory College (C) with his bachelor’s degree in philosophy.