Admissions interviews are an important part of the admissions process for some schools, and still other schools do not use them at all. This post is discusses different types of interviews and continues a discussion started in an earlier post: What are admissions interviews? My hope is that you can understand more about the admissions interview process and recognize what is happening to you as you go through them. In professional school admissions the interview is indispensable and is frequently similar to a job interview.
Assessment interviews are focused on determining the candidate’s ability to succeed in the academic program. They are often a review of qualifications and can dwell on particular performance weaknesses if a candidate has any. They also tend to feel like a professional job interview because they are more formal and can be stressful for the candidate.
These interviews are particularly important as a tiebreaker for difficult decisions (especially regarding language capability for international students). More scrutiny of background means a student should be prepared to explain weaknesses or position strengths so the admissions officer understands how important they are to the overall application portfolio.
Assessment interviews can also be graded with different scoring methods. The scoring mechanism I have used grades an interview on a variable number of performance characteristics and calculates a percentage score like an academic grade. These scores are then statistically normalized across the interviewer pool to eliminate any influence due to styles of different interviewers. Other schools may score interviews using a number of stars on a fixed scale, overall ratings on a numerical scale, or similar. I don’t think schools often create statistically sound comparison metrics for their admissions interviews so don’t let this part worry you. Some put more emphasis here, some put less.
Informational admission interviews
Schools that may not have a formal interview component to admission may provide informational interviews when asked. These are usually relaxed, low stress discussions where the candidate asks lots of questions. Informational interviews are often not well publicized and are the purview of the motivated applicant. If you don’t ask for an interview, you won’t get one.
Marketing interviews are more focused on presenting and selling the school to the candidate than on grilling the applicant about their qualifications. Similar to the informational interview, these could feel more like a discussion than an interview.
Whether a school does marketing interviews is often a function of it’s selectivity and competitiveness of the candidate. You can interpret them either way and may glean some insight into the applicant pool for the school. If the school is aggressively marketing itself, they may have a small applicant pool or you may present some qualifications well above the norm. This is not always the case, but could be.
Marketing interviews have a lighter question load with less scrutiny on the applicant. The focus here is sometimes on the features of the school or the benefits to the applicant. It can be a dialogue, but is sometimes school centric and a one way monologue.
Relationship interviews are an anomaly. They are focused on getting to know you on a level other than your application materials. You might be asked about your likes, dislikes, values, interests, etc. The valuable insights from a relationship interview are in projecting how someone will fit in to a one on one or small group program where teamwork is critical.
These interviews will be much more dialogue and not be stressful. Indeed, they could also be done over coffee or a meal and last a few hours during a school visit.
Best admissions interviews
Although this could turn into an admissions interview manifesto, I will keep it short. The best admissions interview, in my opinion, is one that lets the admissions committee get to know the applicant as a person, assesses qualifications, provides the applicant with greater insight into the program they are applying to, and is scored in a way that allows statistically valid comparison data.
What do you think about interviews? Have you been interviewed using one of these styles? How did it go?
This post continues as a series of posts about admissions interviews. Please visit the related posts including:
MBA Admission Interview Preparation
Admissions interview preparation services are now available via InsideTheAdcom. Preparation promotes success!