Admission interviews are a crucial part of the admissions and enrollment process at your independent or private school.
Granted, you can get a fairly clear understanding of a candidate’s academic capabilities and skills through their transcripts, test scores, and essays. However, what these application materials don’t provide is a human connection.
With a traditional admissions process, it’s hard to uncover a student’s personality or true character by simply reviewing student data, extracurricular activities, and scores. Consequently, your admission interviews provide an amazing opportunity to get to know each student as a person rather than simply data on a page.
The conversations allow you to build relationships with candidates and their families. It also gives them an opportunity to learn more about your school and if it's a good fit.
Of course, the amount of information you can glean and the impression you leave on prospective students depends on the quality of your admissions interview process and your software. If you’re stuck in a rut and using the same admissions software and mundane process your department has used for years, maybe it’s time to switch things up and revamp how you view this step of the application process.
Here are a few tips to help you refine the interview process at your private school:
6 Tips to Help Improve Your Admission Interview Process
Tip #1: Build your questions to uncover the core strengths you’re evaluating
By building your questions around the specific core values you’re evaluating in potential students, you can rate or score the strengths of each candidate. This can help you can compare and contrast candidates based on their fit for your school.
Framing your in-person, but don’t overlook the potential of your initial inquiry form used by your admissions and enrollment software — these preliminary forms can serve as a prelude to the 1:1 interview and offer early insights into the applicant.
By including well-thought-out questions or gathering interests in the inquiry form, you can gain preliminary data about the student’s aspirations, strengths, hobbies, or challenges. This not only provides a baseline understanding but also allows the interview to go deeper into areas highlighted by the applicant's responses.
For example, if an applicant mentions a passion for STEM or theater on the inquiry form, the interview can include questions that explore this interest further and align them with your school's programs.
Tip #2: Try to keep it fresh
No two interviewees are the same. So it’s helpful to create a lengthy list of interview questions and change it up or switch out topics as the interview progresses. Be sure your admissions office asks follow-up questions to help candidates elaborate on specific points, like sharing more information about scholarships, athletics, or financial aid in real-time.
Tip #3: Leverage interviews as relationship-building opportunities
These conversations offer you and your team an excellent opportunity to gather information that could aid in future personalization efforts or communication plans. For example, if a student mentions they are interested in soccer, make a note to send them tickets to your school’s next game.
Tip #4: Don’t hold interviews in a silo
Private school admission interviews have always been an essential gateway to understanding potential students. However, the process shouldn’t be an isolated affair carried out solely by the admissions team. Instead, it should be a collaborative effort involving various members of the school's community.
Here's why: Take time to crowdsource interview questions from other staff members. Find out what teachers and administrators would like to know and weave those questions into your discussions.
More perspectives, ranging from administrators to teachers, can uncover interests not immediately evident in traditional interviews. This approach can also create a shared sense of responsibility in student admissions among your school community.
Tip #5: Use interviews to help you build personas
In some cases, you may notice similar personality characteristics, interests, or common answers among multiple students. You can use these trends to inform and create your school’s personas. These personas will help you craft better-tailored lead nurturing campaigns. Gathering data for your personas is easy with the right admissions and enrollment management software.
Tip #6: Remember, it’s a two-way decision
While you’re evaluating students, there’s a good chance they (and their families) are assessing you and your school, too. That’s why it’s essential you focus on families rather than directing all questions toward the student. Additionally, while there are a few important questions you need to prioritize during the admissions interview and a few key points you’ll want to address, strive to let conversations flow naturally. And ultimately, aim to keep the experience as positive and comfortable as possible.
Revamping your admission interview process and your perspective can lead to more engaging conversations and deeper relationships. Interviews can provide clarity for your admission decisions or which students your school should accept. On top of that, it can make a difference in a family or student’s ultimate decision to attend your school. The end result is hand-selected, best-fit, enrolled students who love and are committed to your school.