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How alumni interviews help the admissions process

With your help, here’s what we hope to learn about prospective students from your interviews:

  • Which of the Meliora values do they exhibit?
  • Are they a good fit for the University of Rochester, and vice versa?
  • How well do they know us (relative to where they are in the application process)?
  • What is most important for admissions to know about the applicant?

This interview is our opportunity to learn their stories and add a personality to their application. What we want to know is what makes them unique. Your goal is to have a relaxed conversation from which you may uncover some additional insight about the student not included or discussed at length in their application materials.

It’s not just what they do, it’s why they do it. The application tells us how many AP classes the student is taking. We see their extensive extracurricular list. Rather than asking for a list of classes or activities they participate in, try to find out why. What are the student’s motivations, passions, or goals? These are things that are harder to determine from the application alone, so you can use the interview as a chance to dig deeper and find out what drives them.

We need you to have conversations with students that ultimately supply admissions with supporting information and insights that get to the heart of Rochester’s Vision and Values. Additionally, you’ll provide a window into how interviewees see themselves as part of a larger community and how their commitment to the betterment of others contributes to that community. The goal is not only to recognize the biggest, most public displays of service to others, but also to identify students contributing to the betterment of others in important, quiet, sustained, everyday ways as well.

Interviewing best practices

We’ve compiled tips and advice to help you make the most of your interviews with prospective students.

  • Mentally prepare for the interview:
    • Know where they are from and what high school they attend.
    • Look at how they answered the questions when they requested the interview.
    • Prepare what questions you want to ask.
  • If they have mentioned a particular area of interest or major, can you think of a fact, statistic, or story you can share with them?
  • Silence your phone or any other devices so the student knows you are focused on them for their time slot.
  • Make sure you have a view of a clock or can check a timepiece (phone, watch, etc.) so you can keep the interview on time.
  • Remember what you want to get out of the interview and that there is value in every interview.
  • Welcome the student by name.
  • Introduce yourself.
  • Explain format of this interview (“This is a conversation,” “I may be taking notes,” “This is a chance to get to know you and your personality,” etc.).
  • Explain to the student: “I’m taking notes but it’s just so I can remember your words.”
  • Ask at the beginning of the interview if they’ve done any other interviews so you can benchmark them in this process; if this is their first interview, they may be a bit unpolished, but if it’s their 36th interview, they have it down.
  • Ask about what characteristics a student is looking for in their future college or university so you can make a connection between what they want and what the University offers.
  • Expect that some students may not have an answer yet for why they want to attend Rochester; some students are interviewing early in the process and haven’t done their research, while others don’t yet have the context for who we are.
  • You may need to give students a prod or lots of support if they’re nervous, especially because interviewing is an intimidating process to some.
  • If students get stuck on a question, let them come up with an answer, or redirect to let them talk about a subject they feel more comfortable with.
  • If your interviewee has given you several examples of exhibiting Meliora values, please piece them together as part of your write-up.
  • Do your best to adapt your energy to the nervousness level of the student—do not expect them to adapt to you.
  • Allow them time at the end of the interview to ask any questions they may have.
  • Keep the write-ups short:
    • Tell us if you think this student is or isn’t a good fit for the University with examples and rationale to back up your assessment.
    • Write up what we won’t find in their application (we already have their GPA, test scores, resumes, letters of recommendation, and writing samples).
    • Be direct.
    • Provide context.
    • Provide a brief summation statement.
    • Your rating should reflect your feedback.

Sample questions

In the Office of Admissions, we find it useful to ask personal, open-ended questions to get to know the student and to get an idea of how he or she might fit in at Rochester.

The questions and prompts sample below are examples of open-ended questions worded in different ways. Select or create interview questions that feel natural to you. Interviews typically last 30 to 45 minutes. Please do not just read all of the questions from this list.

Questions and prompts you might find helpful include:

  • Tell me about yourself.
  • Describe yourself in three words.
  • Putting the University of Rochester aside, what characteristics are most important in your college search?
  • What do you want out of your college experience?
  • What are you looking for in your future college or university?
  • What are you most looking forward to in college?
  • Why are you considering the University of Rochester?
  • How did you find out about the University of Rochester?
  • Favorite/least favorite high school class?
  • How do you stay engaged in a class you don’t love?
  • What are you passionate about?
  • Tell me about the transition/growth you have made between 9th and 12th grade.
  • What is something you have changed your mind about?
  • Who inspires you?
  • How do you deal with stress?
  • What are you most proud of that you have accomplished in high school?
  • What is the most interesting Instagram, Facebook, or Snapchat feed that you follow? Why?
  • Is there anything we didn’t get a chance to talk about today that makes you, you?
  • If you had to leave one message with the Admission Committee, what would it be?
  • If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go? Why?
  • If you could travel anywhere in the world (at any time in history) for 24 hours, where would you go? What would you do in your limited time there?
  • If you could have a one-on-one conversation with anyone, living or dead, who would you choose to talk to? Why?
  • If you could teach a class on any topic in the world, what would you teach?
  • What’s your favorite book?
  • Athletes: What is the best leadership skill you have learned from your sport? If you had to choose one area outside of athletics that has shaped you, what would it be?
  • What is your unique contribution to any group or community you’ve join?
  • Community service: Tell me a moment of impact you’ve had while being engaged in your community.
  • In the spirit of the University’s motto of “Ever Better,” what does a better version of you look like?
  • Tell me about your friends. What type of people do you like to surround yourself with?
  • How would your friends describe you?
  • Tell me about an important value or lesson you’ve learned from a mentor or family member.
  • If you decided to learn an additional language, which would it be and why?
  • What do you like to do for fun? (A helpful question to ask nervous students.)
  • Tell me something you do just for fun that you wouldn’t be able to list on a resume/college application.
  • What does a “free” Saturday look like? No homework, no practice. How are you spending your free day?
  • What’s the most impactful learning experience you’ve ever had (inside or outside of school)?
  • What is your legacy? How do you hope to be remembered by your high school community when you graduate?
  • What’s a typical school day like for you after your last class ends?
  • We greatly value community and family letters of recommendation. If your younger/older sibling were to write a letter on your behalf, what would it say?
  • What kinds of things ignite your curiosity?
  • What concerns do you have regarding college?
  • What has been the most meaningful activity you’re involved in (and why)?

Post-interview write-up

We appreciate you taking the time to interview prospective students! Within 48 hours of an interview, please submit a brief write-up of the candidate using the prompts on the interviewing evaluation form as a guide. Thank you again for your help.

View a sample write-up


Log into the interview portal.

    • Your username is the email we have on record for you.
    • To create a password, click on “Forgot Your Password” and follow the prompts. A temporary PIN will be sent to your email address. Enter the PIN as your password. You will be prompted to create a new password.

Now, you are logged into the system and should see your “Alumni Interviewer Dashboard”.


The Dashboard represents a summary of your interviewing activity. It will be blank until you receive an interview request.

Your first action is to click on “Your Alumni Interviewer Profile” on the right side of the page, and complete your profile. You’ll only have to do this once unless you need to change your availability for different types of interviewing (In Person, Virtual, Phone) or to change your status from active to inactive, or vise-versa. Your availability, active vs. inactive, can be managed at the bottom of your alumni profile. Please note that changing your status to inactive will not prevent you from accessing your dashboard or communicating with interviews in progress. It will only prevent you from receiving additional interview requests.

If you’re ready to start receiving requests, uncheck the “inactive from all interviews” option, and select the type(s) of interviewing method(s) you will offer. Your selections will not be saved until you click Submit.

Once you receive a request you can continue the process. You will receive an automated email notifying you know that a student has requested an interview with you. These notifications will come from so please be sure to add this email address to your contacts/safe senders list. Gmail users: automated notifications are often rerouted to other folders of your Gmail account. Please double-check for them there if you’re not recieving them in your primary Gmail inbox folder.


Take some time to familiarize yourself with the dashboard components.

In the center of the page you’ll see an area of the Dashboard that will eventually populate rows of requests. When that happens, each row will represent a different student – that student is now in your queue and you’ll see an Interview Status of “Requested”. The information in the columns is pre-populated from the student record and can be sorted. Depending upon if, or where the student is in the application process, the information that populates in these fields may vary, and some may be blank. Generally, the fields will include the following information:

  • Student name
  • Request Date/Time
  • Interview status (first status will be “Requested”)
  • Interview details (the date/time of the interview you schedule with your student will show up here when you’ve confirmed that information)
  • Type (the type of interview the student is requesting: In Person, Virtual, Phone)
  • Student’s preferred gender pronouns
  • Email
  • Phone
  • City
  • State
  • Zip Code
  • Admission Decision
  • High School
  • High School Award Recipient
  • Combined Degree Program applicant

Select a row to begin (or continue) the interviewing process with that particular student.

On the right side of the dashboard screen, starting at the bottom, you’ll see the Alumni Interviewer Profile you’ve set up (again providing the opportunity to change your availability for the type of interview and active/inactive status. This is available to you at any time).

Scrolling up, you’ll see a summary of information provided by the student you’ve selected. This information is in response to the alumni interview request form and is in addition to what is on your dashboard, which originates from our CRM student database.

Continue scrolling up, you’ll see a text box Message/Note to the Student where you should send a general note of introduction to the student. They won’t know who you are until they receive a message. Please send a brief introductory message to start a conversation. Any messages you send to the student, or the student sends to you, will be viewable underneath the Dashboard in the Messages section. They will be dated and time-stamped, and will help in the tracking process. You’ll need to refresh the page for new messages to appear.

Finally, at the top right side you’ll see a menu to track the progress for the student. Selecting the status option that correlates to the stage in the interview process helps you to keep track of where you are with each student, and helps us to track things should assistance be necessary. The status you choose will be reflected in the Dashboard row for that student – the initial status of “Requested” will change to the next status as you select the following options and submit:

  • Option 1 : Accepted – When you reach out to contact the student you should select this option. The status on the Dashboard will then change to Scheduling in Process while you and the student figure out the logistics of scheduling the interview, and move on to Option 2.
  • Option 2: Confirmed – Select this once you’ve confirmed the date/location/time of the interview with the student, and you are both in agreement. Selecting “Confirmed” will open a calendar for scheduling the interview. Choose the date, enter the location with as much detail as possible, enter the time of the interview, selecting AM or PM, and the time zone. Once set – Submit. The student will receive the details in a confirmation email and on their own alumni interview request dashboard. You’ll receive a confirmation email as well as see this information  populate in your Dashboard in the Interview Details field.
  • Option 3: Decline – Select this option only if you need to decline a new request or cancel one that isn’t working out (for example, no response from the student or you can’t find a mutually agreeable time to schedule the interview). A message field will then appear for you to submit the reason for your decision to decline. The reason field is mandatory. (The reason for the decline will be seen by the student.) After you decline a request, the student will be removed from your queue. However, if your availability is stil “active” it’s possible the student may send you another request.

Once Confirmed, the interview status in the Dashboard row for that student will change to an Evaluation button. Return there after the interview is complete. Click the Evaluation button to open the interview write-up form. Complete and submit the form within 24 hours, but no longer than 2 days after the interview. If you are unable to complete the Evaluation in one sitting, select “Save For Later” or the write-up you have started will be lost. This is also the case if the system times out, which it may for security reasons, so if you plan to step away, Save For Later! Submitting the form will check a box on the student’s UR application page indicating that the interview is complete. Until that has been done, it will appear to the student that their interview is not complete, often leading to anxious phone calls to our office from parents and students.

Once you have submitted the evaluation, the Evaluation button on your Dashboard will change to Completed. Congratulations!

If a student is a “No-Show”, change the system Interview Status to “Decline” and in the note field enter “No-Show”. The student will then be prompted to request another interview.


  • Refreshing the page often may be necessary as you’re working.
  • Throughout the interviewing process auto-programmed email messages and notifications to you and the student will be sent using the email you and they have provided in your profile and in their record. Your personal email address is hidden from the student. Notifications will go out with each change of your “Interview Status and Confirmation” option, so it’s important that you monitor that email account throughout the process and/or check the messages in the Messages field in the system. Although the student’s personal email is provided with their information, please do not copy/past that email address and message from there –it’s important that all conversation stays within the system.
  • As the system loads your submissions, it may say “Loading” and there may be little blue bubbles that appear on the screen – please be patient with that process. If you feel it’s “stuck” loading, please let us know and we’ll work around it with you.
  • Between now and January 21: High school seniors and transfer applicants can request alumni interviews. You will receive an automated email letting you know when a student has sent you an interview request. Students can’t submit interview requests after January 21, but you will have into mid- February to complete outstanding interviews remaining in your queue.
  • Immediately or as soon as possible after receiving an interview request notification: Log onto your interviewer dashboard to view your  request queue. Click on a student’s name, then either decline the interview or initiate contact with your interviewee via the Interview Status and Confirmation and Message to the Student areas on the right side of your dashboard.
  • As soon as possible, but no longer than 3 days after accepting a request: Contact student through the Message to the Student text box on your interviewer page (this section is located on the right side of your dashboard page).
  • Confirm and schedule the interview in the Interview Status and Confirmation section of your interviewer page (this section is located on the right side of your dashboard page).
  • Within 2 weeks, or as soon as possible: Interviews for Early Decision students should be conducted and evaluations submitted, no later than November 20. Regular Decision students should be conducted, and evaluation forms submitted, no later than February 15.
  • Immediately after the interview: Submit online evaluation form, found by clicking on the student’s name in your interview queue, then scrolling over to “Interview Status” column and clicking on “Evaluation.”
  • Between December and April 1: Admissions reviews applications and renders decisions. Interview evaluation form is added to the applicant’s file and considered among admission materials. A student’s application is held as long as possible for final review until the interview evaluation is received. Please don’t delay or your interview feedback may be too late to be considered!
  • By mid-April: You will be notified of your interviewees’ admission decisions via your interview queue. You are welcome and encouraged to congratulate admitted students.
  • Mid-August: Final admissions status for all your interviewees are available by request if not viewable in your interviewer account. This allows you to learn if the admitted candidate you interviewed accepted our offer of admission, if the waitlisted candidate you met was admitted, etc.
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