Interviewing 101

The evaluative interview should capture a sense of the candidate’s talents, engagement (or potential to engage) and fit with Dickinson. The conversation should be friendly but also challenging.

Arranging the Interview

After accepting an interview request, please contact the student immediately to arrange a mutually convenient date and time. Interviews must be conducted in a professional or public setting which is accessible, convenient and safe. Some examples would be your office during regular business hours, a coffee shop, bookstore or the student’s school. Do not conduct the interview in a home or in an establishment where alcohol is served or consumed.

Interviews and evaluations should be completed within three weeks of the request and by the application deadline. Interviews typically last between 45 and 60 minutes.

If the student has not responded within 48 hours we ask that you reach out two more times alternating between e-mail and phone. After the third attempt, please let us know so we can reach out to the student. When you confirm an interview date, please let us know.

Example of an e-mail outreach for volunteers

Dear (Student’s name),

I am a Dickinson College (alumnus/parent) and a member of the Dickinson Admissions Volunteer Society (DAVS). I conduct interviews for the Admissions Office with students in the area and have been asked to schedule an interview with you. I am available this Thursday afternoon between 4 and 5 p.m. or Monday, November 21, at any time in the afternoon. I would suggest that we meet at the Starbucks in Tenafly if that is convenient.

Please respond confirming which time you prefer or suggesting other times if the ones above do not suit your schedule. I anticipate your prompt response and look forward to meeting you.

Conducting the interview

Here are some recommended questions to ask. Please feel free to take notes during the interview, share your personal experiences with the student, if applicable, and whenever there is a question you don’t know, please refer the student to their regional counselor or

  • Tell me about your high school and particularly what you like about it
  • How has your experience at your high school—both inside and outside the classroom—influenced/shaped you to be the person you are today?
  • What are the things about your character/personality that really define you as a person?
  • How will you be remembered at your school?
  • How do you see yourself engaging the world while you’re a Dickinson student?
  • Imagine yourself out of college, looking back on your college experience. What do you want to say you got out of that experience?
  • On what type of school is your college search focused (public/private, small/large, urban/rural)?
  • Are you interested in a particular major or career field? Who/what inspired that interest?
  • What have you learned of Dickinson that suggests it would support the kind of experience you are seeking?
  • Is there anything that we have not talked about that you think I need to know about you?

At the end of the interview, explain that you will be an advocate in the admissions process; let him/her fill in any gaps to provide a clear sense of what makes that student “tick.”

Know Before You Go

  • Emphasize Dickinson’s strengths and what was special for you and or your child’s Dickinson experience.
  • Do not ask what other colleges the student is considering or make negative comparisons to other colleges and do not comment on the student’s chance for admission.
  • Present information about Dickinson accurately and in a positive manner. This does not mean you should avoid information that is not entirely positive. Students appreciate honest answers to difficult questions.
  • Do not ask any question that you would not want to be asked. If a difficult/sensitive issue should arise, be serious and compassionate while not dwelling on the issue.
  • Leave time for the student’s questions.
  • Offer the e-mail address of the student’s regional counselor and encourage the student to connect with both you and that person with questions or informational needs.

Evaluating the Interview

The assessments should be objective and comments should be supported by the student’s statements and conduct during the interview. Consider the following:

  • Did the student articulate deep thinking and energy or disinterested and reactive?
  • Did the student have a basic understanding of Dickinson’s distinctive strengths or a serious understanding of Dickinson’s approach and ideas and how to take advantage of them?
  • Is the student excited and visibly passionate about an interest or has he/she dabbled in various areas without a particular interest in any?
  • Is the student unmotivated or going to college simply because it’s the next step? Or is he/she fascinated by new ideas, displaying an enormous appetite for learning and demonstrating keen insights into complex issues?
  • Do you recommend the student for admission to Dickinson and reason(s)?

Example (Please be thorough yet concise)

Your Name:  John Doe ’09
Student’s Name:  Student’s first and last name
Date:  Interview date
Questions:  Any questions you were not able to answer?

I found Student to be both excited and exciting! Student has a multitude of interests and experience ranging from drawing to physics. He/She seems to grasp the interconnectedness between all disciplines and really seek the kind of experience that I believe Dickinson provides. I was impressed by how the student never ran out of things to talk about and knew how to effectively communicate his/her passions and his/her involvements in clubs, class, and other activities outside of the classroom. Student articulated extremely well how the scientific disciplines like physics and biology motivate him/her to learn more about potential, possibilities, and evolution as concepts which can be applied both inside and outside of those subjects. Student has a great perception of “positive leadership” and spoke articulately about his/her experience as a leader as well as a follower and the benefits of each experience. Student has taken a challenging course load. Student’s extra-curricular activities cover a broad range of interests such as public speaking, acting, leadership summit camp, squash. I think there is a definite fit with Dickinson, and once on campus he/she will be a self-starter, a good example and someone who works hard in his courses, which will most certainly represent a diversity of interests and talents.

Evaluation Submission

Within one week of the interview, please e-mail your interview evaluation to