We don’t have student readers. We have student interviewers. We used to have student readers. Part of the reengineering process was that when we looked at the process, it was actually giving us a huge bottleneck in rounds one and two because we were doing so much student training. It was tough. If you don’t have experience in reading an application, it can quickly create a bottleneck. We were trying to get all this reading done and then all of a sudden we were trying to get all the interview invites out. We had to do this simultaneously. We decided to train the students first on interviewing. Let’s get our interview rock stars out there. Let’s get the people who really want to do this in these jobs. Let’s get them trained and help us in the process. The admissions committee was reading round one anyway so it didn’t make a difference.
So the application comes in and it is automatically assigned to an admissions reader who covers a specific region. Does the initial review result in a grade?
No. If you feel it’s a yes, that person gets an invitation to interview. So it’s yes, no or maybe. If it is a no or maybe, it goes to the admissions committee for a second review.
And there is no grading of each application?
There is no grade whatsoever. It’s just yes, no or maybe.
But can’t there be an enthusiastic yes versus a plain yes?
But it’s still a yes so it doesn’t matter. Actually, it doesn’t matter at all.
And how much time does an admissions staffer typically invest in an application?
On average, I would say about 20 minutes.
Okay. So for the candidates who get the yes, they are invited to interview with an admissions staffer, a student or an alum of the school.
We do have a few alumni interviewers. There were some common themes that came up in the admissions committee about career advancement or other academic qualifications. Or there would be specific questions about leadership. You can’t just say assess this person on leadership. So we put that in there. We have an overall rating on the interview, a one to six.
My interviews are very conversational. I want people to feel comfortable. When I see someone who is nervous, I try very hard to get a person to relax. They do get nervous.
The evaluation that you get is online?
Yes. The difference isn’t only in the scoring. It is in the summary at the end. So you go through the questions and ask for things they might not have been able to fit into the application. It is a blind interview. They see the resume and they see the read from the person who did the first read. They get a general sense. The interviews are basically off someone’s resume.
So then what?
After the interview, you hopefully feel very good about it. The evaluation comes through and the application manager takes the interview and now there is this virtual print that goes in and the committee goes in and we can put up the read and the interview evaluation. All of the committee members will have access through their computers. This is where it goes to these really long meetings.
So let me get this straight. This is where all of you gather around a table, every committee member with a laptop, reviewing every applicant and making a final decision as a group.
Yes. And we have a big flat screen on the wall and I put up the interview evaluation for every candidate and the review of their overall application. We discuss each candidate on those two things. Others in the room might bring up the resume or their undergraduate transcript. At any given moment, we’re all accessing this person’s file at the same time. In the past, with a paper file, you were very limited.
Is it the job of the first reader to be the advocate for the candidate?
They are actually pretty neutral. You are reading many that sometimes, you can remember every single detail. There will be some things that jump out. What’s really beneficial is the person who interviewed them. What is your general sense on this person? What does your gut tell you about this person?
But that person isn’t likely to be in the room and on the committee.
Not always. A majority of the interviewed candidates will have their interviewee in the room unless they were interviewed by one of our alumni or one of our students.
So then the committee votes and it’s the end of the process.
It’s yes, no, or put them on the waitlist because we just don’t feel like we have enough information to make a decision.