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Secrets Unveiled: Nail Your Alumni Interviews and Skyrocket Your Success Rate by 50%!

June 2, 2024

Stanford University is renowned for its rigorous admissions process, which involves a holistic evaluation of candidates. One significant component of this process is the alumni interview, where dedicated volunteers have the opportunity to engage with prospective students and contribute to shaping Stanford's future. This article provides a comprehensive guide for alumni interviewers, outlining the interview process, best practices, sample questions, and the significance of providing context. By adhering to these guidelines, interviewers can ensure a positive and informative interview experience while helping identify outstanding candidates who embody Stanford's values.

Admission context

Admission officers seated around round table, discussing student evaluations
The admissions process is a holistic evaluation of a student's potential at a potential school

Application review

Unveiling the holistic evaluation process at Stanford

Stanford University's admission officers engage in a comprehensive evaluation of candidates, taking into account their educational background and the unique opportunities available to them. The diverse and exceptional admitted class epitomizes a global spectrum of backgrounds and experiences.

Within the context of each student's individual journey, we prioritize academic excellence and the potential for intellectual growth. Additionally, we value achievements beyond the confines of the classroom, considering the student's engagement, passion, and deep commitment.

Our comprehensive evaluation of applicants encompasses various factors, including scholastic performance, national standardized test scores (if provided), non-academic accomplishments, the quality of personal statements, predicted ability to contribute to Stanford's educational process, strength of recommendations, and the optional interview.

Diagram of factors that affect college admissions


The interview: a gateway to mutual exploration

The interview serves as an opportunity for both the applicant and the interviewer to engage in a relaxed and meaningful conversation. It offers a personalized experience, enabling applicants to gain deeper insights into Stanford, while allowing alumni interviewers to discover and unveil the unique qualities and characteristics of each candidate. This intimate interaction often becomes the sole face-to-face encounter within our rigorous application process.

Outreach: building personal connections

The interview also serves as a crucial element of our outreach efforts. By allowing alumni to convey their passion and enthusiasm for Stanford, it creates a personal and immediate connection with the applicants. For many candidates, the interview becomes a lasting memory and an invaluable perspective during the application review.

Evaluation: illuminating the candidate's potential

Interviewers play a crucial role in uncovering and eliciting the unique qualities and characteristics of applicants. They skillfully communicate their impressions and evaluations through detailed interview reports, offering valuable insights into the candidate's intellectual vitality, depth of commitment, and character/self-presentation. These comprehensive reports provide essential perspectives that are carefully considered during the rigorous application review process. By showcasing their perceptive observations, alumni interviewers contribute significantly to the holistic evaluation of candidates.

Conducting the interview

When it comes to conducting an interview, it's crucial to establish a positive and effective environment right from the start. Here are some key tips to ensure a successful interview experience:

  1. Punctuality: Be sure to begin the interview at the agreed-upon time, demonstrating your respect for the applicant's schedule.
  2. Preparation: If conducting an in-person interview, arrive early to secure a comfortable and quiet space. Remember, interviews should be conducted one-on-one, so kindly request that parents or guardians accompanying the applicant wait outside the immediate location.
  3. Setting Expectations: Start the interview by explaining your role as an interviewer. Emphasize that you don't have decision-making power regarding admissions but will relay valuable information to the Office of Undergraduate Admission. Express your hope that the applicant will learn more about Stanford through the interview while you gather insights to share with the university. And most importantly, convey your enthusiasm for Stanford!
  4. Building Rapport: Begin with small talk to establish a connection. Share your excitement about connecting with someone interested in Stanford and inquire about how the student first learned about the university. Transition to questions about their interests, such as traditions in their school, community, work, or home that intrigue them. Alternatively, explore their passions in academic subjects and why those subjects excite them.
  5. Boundaries: Avoid asking applicants about their test scores or grades, as well as pressing them on personal topics that may cause discomfort. If the applicant brings up such topics, acknowledge their comments without expressing a positive or negative stance. Additionally, refrain from asking where they are applying or commenting on other institutions. Focus solely on representing Stanford and refrain from making conjectures about their chances of admission or financial aid.
  6. Respect and Sensitivity: Never comment on an applicant's appearance or make references to their race/ethnicity, religion, sexuality, sex, gender expression, socioeconomic status, or other protected characteristics outlined in Stanford's non-discrimination policy. Similarly, avoid referencing other applicants you have interviewed or are assigned to interview.
  7. Encouraging Questions: Towards the end of the interview, encourage applicants to ask questions about your Stanford experience. Emphasize that every experience is unique, and the campus is constantly evolving. Ensure that the interview remains centered on the applicant, not yourself.
  8. Resource Referrals: If you don't know the answer to a question, avoid inventing one. Instead, direct the applicant to other resources, such as Stanford publications and websites, to find the information they seek.
  9. Note-Taking: If you prefer to take notes, do so unobtrusively. Limit your notes to key words and phrases, and inform the applicant at the beginning of the interview that you'll be jotting down a few points to aid in summarizing the conversation.
  10. Recording Policy: Remember that interviews, whether conducted in person or via video chat, should not be recorded by either party.
  11. Professionalism: Refrain from paying for any food or drink for the applicant if the interview takes place in a coffee shop. However, feel free to be a patron of the shop. Politely decline if the applicant offers to buy you a beverage.

Video chat interview guidelines

Video chat interviews provide an alternative to in-person meetings, offering flexibility and convenience. To ensure a smooth video chat experience, consider the following guidelines:

  1. Preferred Platforms: The Stanford OVAL team primarily uses the Zoom platform for video chat interviews, although other platforms like Google Meet, Skype, FaceTime, and WhatsApp are also widely used. Feel free to select a platform that works best for you and the applicant.
  2. Confirmation and Preparation: When confirming the interview, discuss and agree upon the video platform you'll be using for the virtual interview. Exchange usernames and inform the applicant that you'll be sending an invite.
  3. Visual Connection: It's essential that both you and the applicant can see each other during the video chat interview. Verify at the beginning of the conversation that the student is alone in the room and not engaged in text messaging or instant messaging with others. Ensure that the interview is not being recorded. If parents wish to briefly meet the interviewer, arrange a video chat introduction before the interview and kindly ask them to leave the room afterward.
  4. Technical Issues: Acknowledge the possibility of connection drops at the start of the conversation. Discuss how you will handle such situations, such as suggesting that you call the applicant back on the platform or connect via phone if the connection cannot be restored. Be empathetic to any anxiety or frustration caused by interrupted connections.
  5. Audio Considerations: To minimize audio feedback, it's recommended to use headphones during the video chat interview.
  6. Background Awareness: Pay attention to what can be seen in the background through your webcam, ensuring a professional and appropriate setting.
  7. Documenting Connection Issues: You may include in your interview report that connection issues occurred during the interview. Applicants should not face any penalties for dropped or lost connections.

For additional assistance and best practices for video chat interviews, you can access the optional Video Interview Best Practices Training on the MyOVAL portal under the My Training tab.

Sample interview questions

While you have the flexibility to create your own set of questions for the interview, here are some samples to help kickstart your conversation. Remember, each interviewer and applicant are unique, making each interview a distinct experience:

  1. What academic subject excites you the most, and why?
  2. What are you curious about?
  3. Could you share a few examples of what motivates you to learn?
  4. Tell me about your proudest accomplishment, whether in or out of the classroom.
  5. Can you provide an example of a time when you demonstrated leadership?
  6. Describe a significant challenge you had to overcome.
  7. What aspects define who you are as an individual?
  8. If you could start high school again, what might you do differently?
  9. Which traditions in your school, community, work, or home hold the most meaning for you, and why?
  10. What advice would you give to a high school freshman?
  11. If you had the opportunity to teach a class on any subject, what would it be and why?
  12. Who are your role models, and what specific qualities do you admire in them?
  13. Share your long-term goals and explain how Stanford aligns with your vision.
  14. How do you envision yourself contributing to Stanford?
  15. If given a million dollars to fix, research, or learn anything, what would you do?
  16. If we were to work or study together for a month, what would I discover about you that I can't possibly learn from a brief interview?
  17. Describe a time when you took a risk and what you learned from that experience.
  18. What does it mean to be part of a community?
  19. Define what being a friend means to you.
  20. Share an instance where you believe a group or situation was improved because of your involvement.
  21. If you were to establish your own university, what would its motto or mission be?
  22. If you could travel to the future and experience or witness one thing, what would it be and why?

While additional questions can be asked, ensure they are free of bias and aligned with Stanford's non-discrimination policy. Remember that content knowledge testing is not the objective; instead, focus on assessing intellectual vitality, depth and commitment, and character and self-presentation.

Concluding the interview and next steps

Wrap up the interview by wishing the applicant well and explaining that the Office of Undergraduate Admission discourages further contact between interviewers and applicants after the interview. Direct students to explore Stanford's websites and publications for more information or encourage them to email admission@stanford.edu with any questions they may have.

Please submit your interview report within 24 hours of completing the interview.

If you receive a thank-you note, you may reply to confirm its receipt, expressing your best wishes for the applicant's college application process. If the note contains additional information or questions, kindly forward it to alumniadmission@stanford.edu, and the Stanford OVAL Team will respond to the applicant.

Once the interview cycle concludes, Stanford will provide you with the admission decision for the students you interviewed. If you interviewed an admitted student, you may be invited to reach out and offer your congratulations. For further guidelines, refer to the congratulatory call document in the My Training tab of the MyOVAL portal. You may also have the opportunity to participate in other yield activities, such as admitted student receptions in select regions.

Please note that Stanford cannot reimburse interview-related expenses. However, it's possible that expenses related to non-profit volunteer work may be claimed when submitting U.S. tax returns. Consult IRS Publication 526 and your tax professional for more details.

Interview report

Use of the interview report

The interview report plays a crucial role in providing valuable insights about applicants to Stanford University. It allows interviewers to share their observations and assign ratings based on key themes. However, it's important to note that the interview report is just one component of the holistic application review process, and no single piece of information can predict the final decision.

Ratings and narratives:

The interview report comprises both quantitative ratings and qualitative commentary, offering a comprehensive view of the applicant. Alumni interviewers rate candidates on intellectual vitality, depth/commitment, and character/self-presentation. The scale ranges from 1 to 5, with 1 representing exceptional strength and 5 indicating a rare rating. These ratings are supported by specific qualities associated with each theme, such as intellectual curiosity, accomplishments, integrity, teamwork, and communication skills.

Report Segments:

To provide insight into the interview rating and narrative themes, we have included segments that exemplify various ratings. These segments focus on intellectual vitality, depth/commitment, and character/self-presentation. It's important to note that these segments are not exhaustive but serve as valuable benchmarks for understanding the applicant.

Demonstrate a love for learning that goes beyond grades

Intellectual vitality - exceptionally strong (rating: 1):

An example report showcases Mark, a student who excelled in math and science exams and used his knowledge to connect with others. His research on the impact of musical tones on Alzheimer's patients' emotional memory won him an award at the International Science and Engineering Fair. Mark's interdisciplinary thinking, genuine curiosity, and ability to bridge academic and social connections demonstrate his exceptional intellectual vitality.

Intellectual vitality - strong (rating: 3):

Alisha, another applicant, exhibits wisdom beyond her years and engages in deep conversations about philosophy, ethics, and politics. While her interests are diverse, she demonstrates a desire to balance passion and practicality, aspiring to study physics and become an eye doctor. Alisha's creativity in filmmaking and her scientific understanding of the art form further highlight her intellectual vitality.

Intellectual vitality - not strong (rating: 5):

Brad's interview reflects a lack of comfort and preparedness. He relied on rehearsed answers, even using them to respond to unrelated questions. His hesitancy to engage in genuine conversation and provide thoughtful insights indicates a limited capacity for flexible and creative thinking. While Brad shared some surface-level information about his interests, he struggled to delve deeper or engage in meaningful discussion.

The interview report serves as a valuable tool for Stanford's admission officers to understand applicants better. By combining quantitative ratings and qualitative narratives, interviewers provide a comprehensive impression of the candidate. Remember, when assigning ratings, it is essential to provide thorough context and specific examples to support the evaluation. Stanford's admission process involves a holistic review by a committee, ensuring a fair assessment based on the applicant's complete profile.

Disclaimer: These report segments serve as examples and should not be taken as definitive or prescriptive. Each interview and applicant is unique, and interviewers should focus on providing accurate and thoughtful evaluations based on their individual conversations.

Depth and commitment (rating: 1)

Raquel's decision to pursue homeschooling to train under a prestigious gymnastics coach reveals her unwavering commitment to excellence. To support her dreams, she took up coaching younger gymnasts to cover her own expenses. From training rigorously for eight hours a day to attending classes and coaching in the evenings, Raquel's dedication knows no bounds. Despite a career-ending injury caused by a surgeon's mistake, she demonstrated resilience by enrolling in her local high school's AP program and even proposed offering academic classes at her gym. Raquel's passion for gymnastics and her commitment to the growth of herself and fellow athletes make her deserving of a top rating in Depth and Commitment.

Depth and commitment (rating: 3)

Otto's leadership skills shine through his role as the swim team captain. Despite limited opportunities for competitive activities at his international school, Otto embraced the challenge of motivating teammates who were less competitive than him. His desire to attend Stanford stems from his ambition to nurture a business venture after graduation while continuing to pursue his passion for swimming. Otto's refusal to accept failure and his perfectionist nature showcase his unwavering commitment to success. His interview reflects his enthusiasm and leadership qualities, warranting a solid rating of 3 in Depth and Commitment.

Depth and commitment (rating: 5)

While Sarah's commitment doesn't revolve around organized activities or team sports, her pursuit of academic achievement is commendable. Although she didn't elaborate much on her passion for writing poetry, her dedication to academics shines through her decision to focus on grades and improve her ACT scores. Sarah's choice to prioritize personal growth aligns with her individuality, as she prefers to work on her own projects rather than participating in extracurricular activities. This self-directed approach demonstrates maturity and an understanding of her interests. Sarah's commitment to academic excellence is a strong fit for a rating of 5 in Depth and Commitment.

Character/self-presentation (rating: 1)

Engaging in a conversation with Terrence felt like speaking to an adult friend, showcasing his exceptional maturity. His dedication to caring for his younger sister, supporting her with homework and dinner while their single parent is away, illustrates his responsibility and selflessness. Terrence's ability to balance numerous responsibilities while displaying a great sense of humor and connecting with people of different age groups highlights his generous spirit. The report emphasizes Terrence's self-awareness and his commitment to making a positive impact on his family. Terrence's outstanding character and self-presentation earn him a well-deserved rating of 1.

Character/self-presentation (rating: 3)

Victoria's inspiration to become a neurosurgeon stems from her desire to help others, as evidenced by her uncle's illness. Her involvement in debate and theater showcases her appreciation for artistic and social activities. Victoria finds fulfillment in assisting newer team and club members and readily offering advice when needed. Her proudest achievement, symbolized by an award she shares with her debate partner, represents their chemistry and cooperation. Victoria's genuine care for others and her enthusiasm for teamwork highlight her exceptional character and self-presentation, deserving a rating of 3.

Character/self-presentation (rating: 5)

Jack's remarkable achievements in biomedically-related academics and activities demonstrate his exceptional dedication amidst intense competition. However, his account of stealing an answer key from his teacher's desk reveals a severe lapse in judgment. Despite not looking at the key and confessing to a friend, Jack failed to take responsibility when questioned by the teacher. Jack's reflection suggests he justified his actions due to overwhelming stress from final exams and parental demands. This episode showcases a significant character flaw without displaying remorse. Jack's narrative justifies a rating of 5 for Character/Self-Presentation, given the severe lapse in judgment and integrity.

Other common themes

In this section, we will explore common issues observed by admission officers in interview reports and address frequently asked questions regarding report writing and rating selection. To ensure confidentiality, all identifying details of the interviewers and applicants have been altered. The insights provided by admission officers aim to assist interviewers in understanding how their comments can be interpreted, the questions that may arise from their reports, and how to write more informative reports.

Ensuring informative reports with adequate detail

The interview report for Darren showcases enthusiasm for the candidate but lacks the necessary detail to support the given ratings. Although the ratings of 1 and 2 may be appropriate, further evidence from the interview is required to validate them. If specific information related to a theme is unavailable, it is recommended to assign a rating of 4, indicating a "good" evaluation. Additionally, since the admission officers already have access to Darren's full transcript and activities list, the report should focus on providing unique insights rather than repeating information available elsewhere. Adding context about Darren's achievements and circumstances can add value to the report and offer local knowledge. To expand on personal qualities, it is essential to provide examples and connect them to the rating themes.

Assessing introversion in interview reports

The interview report for Gretchen presents varying impressions of the applicant. While the first paragraph highlights Gretchen's strong pursuit of mathematics and her ability to engage others, the interviewer expresses concerns about her self-presentation. It is important to consider that not all students find interviews energizing, and some may require time to reflect before responding. Despite Gretchen's soft-spoken demeanor and delayed answers, she effectively shares her excitement for math and explains complex concepts. It is possible that Gretchen's introversion or her lack of prior interview experience influenced the interviewer's perception. The challenge for the interviewer is to accurately assign a rating considering these contrasting impressions.

Providing support for opinions in interview reports

The interview report for Carlos contains several value statements without sufficient supporting evidence. Admission officers require concrete information to gain a deeper understanding of the applicant. Statements such as "good" and "well" should be paired with specific examples or achievements to provide credibility. When mentioning Carlos's knowledge or interests, it is essential to explain how the interviewer acquired that information. By probing further and asking questions like "Why are you interested in this?" or "How did you learn about that?" the interviewer can obtain additional insights. The report also presents a contradiction by suggesting weak intellectual curiosity despite Carlos's involvement in research and interest in learning languages.

Over-rating in interview reports

The interview report for Abhi demonstrates the potential for over-rating. While the interviewer expresses admiration for Abhi's engagement in his chosen field of study, the given ratings of 1 do not fully align with the examples provided. Abhi's exploration of robotics and increased effort in AP Literature indicate intellectual vitality and depth/commitment, which warrant higher ratings. The rating of 1 for character/self-presentation could be justified, but the report lacks specific support for this rare rating. By providing more details about Abhi's confidence, sense of humor, and steps taken to improve in AP Literature, the interviewer could strengthen the justification for the rating.

Providing further context

Interview narrative

Joy exuded an endless stream of words during the interview, occasionally appearing difficult to comprehend due to her nervous yet eager disposition. She passionately shared insights into her senior research project, which focused on Thoreau's moral progression, revealing her inclination towards working in a non-profit education setting. However, some of her musings on justice and free will seemed somewhat disconnected from the conversation, possibly stemming from pre-packaged analysis derived from class discussions earlier that day. It was evident that Joy's nervous energy fueled her desire to impress and showcase her intellect. On a lighter note, Joy also revealed her involvement in a pop-punk cover band that adds a fun and confident dimension to her personality.

Uncovering family dynamics

In the course of our conversation, I discovered that Joy's parents migrated from Cambodia shortly before her birth and are not fluent in English. Interestingly, the corner store I frequent, which is located near my office, is managed by her parents, with Joy assisting them on weekends. Given her proficiency in English, Joy plays a crucial role in managing their store, in addition to handling the family's email account and serving as a translator during parent-teacher conferences. She attributes her belief in the American dream to her parents, who have worked tirelessly to provide a happy life and establish a successful business for their family.

Admission perspective: revealing family responsibilities

This interview not only sheds light on Joy's academic pursuits but also provides valuable insight into her familial obligations. Joy's significant role within her family's business and her commitment to supporting her parents exemplify her dedication and responsibility. It is important to include such information in the application, as applicants may not consider their family responsibilities as noteworthy activities, often failing to emphasize their significant commitments.

Religion and politics

Interview narrative

Seth and I connected via a FaceTime call, as he had spent the past two years on a mission in Germany after completing high school. Prior to embarking on his mission, Seth devoted himself to fundraising and budgeting to realize this opportunity. His outstanding leadership qualities earned him the highest position among the missionaries in Germany, and it was evident why he was chosen, given his confidence, kindness, and optimistic approach to his mission and fundraising efforts.

While initially aspiring to become a physician to serve others, Seth's experience of witnessing the treatment of refugees in the town where he ministered altered his perspective. He now believes that he can have a greater impact on others' well-being as a politician or government official. Hearing various German viewpoints on politics led Seth to contemplate how his religious beliefs align with the core principles of both major American political parties. When asked how he responded when faced with unforeseen challenges, Seth candidly shared that he was currently undergoing such a transformation. He stated, "That's happening to me right now. I was supposed to go to Germany to share my beliefs with others, but when I return, I'll bring back new beliefs along with my old ones.".

Seth's evolving political and justice-oriented viewpoints, coupled with his eagerness to explore them further, indicate that college will be an exhilarating period of self-discovery. He expresses his desire to engage in service communities or initiate clubs alongside his fellow Eagle Scouts in his chosen college environment.

Admission perspective: reflecting shared themes

The interviewer successfully maintains a neutral stance, focusing on Seth's beliefs rather than introducing personal opinions. The narrative provides detailed accounts of Seth's evolving viewpoints, leadership role, and the extensive effort he invested in fundraising and budgeting over two years. The interviewer's observations about Seth's attitude, trustworthiness, and reflective nature support the rating for Character/Self-Presentation. These insights showcase Seth's ability to be independent, lead others, and remain open to new and contrasting ideas. The narrative effectively captures Seth's transformative journey since high school.

Socioeconomic status

Interview narrative

When discussing recent challenges, Hanna disclosed that her parents could not afford prep materials for the SAT, unlike most of her classmates who attended after-school prep classes. Undeterred, she approached a teacher for practice tests and committed to weekly study sessions after school. With the teacher's assistance, Hanna significantly improved her SAT scores while managing her regular coursework. Resourcefulness is a recurring theme in Hanna's life, as she consistently finds ways to overcome setbacks, often doubling her efforts. Her matter-of-fact approach to challenges is truly admirable.

Embracing heritage and breaking barriers

Hanna proudly shared her Mexican heritage, emphasizing that she is the only person she knows in her predominantly white suburb who speaks Spanish at home. She eagerly looks forward to attending a university like Stanford, where she can actively engage with the Latinx community. Notably, Hanna recently achieved a conference wrestling title, which she pursued due to its comparatively lower cost of participation and her drive to challenge societal expectations for women. Her passion for breaking down barriers and surpassing expectations will undoubtedly propel her forward in life and thrive in a college environment like Stanford.

Admission perspective: resourcefulness and identity

Hanna's resourcefulness and unwavering determination to overcome challenges shine through in this interview. The account of her SAT preparation and her commitment to wrestling offer a deeper understanding of Hanna's character, which may not be apparent in her application alone. The interviewer presents Hanna's socioeconomic background and her pride in her heritage without making assumptions, offering personal opinions, or adding unnecessary commentary. These details provide valuable context while allowing the admission officer to form an unbiased evaluation.


Interview narrative

In summary, Steele is a delightful, engaging, self-aware, and inquisitive young man whose presence would undoubtedly enrich any college campus he attends.

Admission perspective: highlighting key qualities

This concise closing sentence captures the interpersonal highlights of the interview without making sweeping admission recommendations or comparing the applicant to others. It effectively conveys the positive qualities observed in Steele, emphasizing his potential contributions to the college community.

Interview narrative

I found Allison to be highly intelligent, mature, and easy to converse with. Consequently, I rated her intellectual vitality and character as strong. However, in terms of depth and commitment, I sensed a lack of passion in areas other than golf. Most of her extracurricular intellectual pursuits seemed to be driven by external influences, such as a family friend or a class, rather than reflecting deep exploration. Therefore, I would rate her a 4 (good) or 3.5 (between good and strong) in terms of depth and commitment.

Admission perspective: assessing intellectual vitality and depth/commitment

The interviewer provides a breakdown of the ratings for each area of assessment, offering clear explanations to support their evaluation. By detailing the reasons behind the ratings, the interviewer provides valuable context for the admission officer, highlighting Allison's strengths and areas that could benefit from further development.

Interview narrative

Kelly's exceptional social skills were immediately apparent. She exuded confidence as she entered the room, offering a firm handshake and engaging in genuinely intriguing conversations, rather than relying on cookie-cutter questions. During our discussion, she revealed that she experienced academic growth later in high school, realizing that a career in sports was not her ultimate path. In her junior season, she made the brave decision to quit basketball, a sport she had played since the age of 7, to prioritize her studies. Kelly specifically mentioned AP Chemistry, which initially overwhelmed her but now appears more manageable due to her improved study techniques. She hopes that prioritizing academics will yield fruitful results in her college applications. While Kelly has yet to discover the ideas and activities that truly ignite her passion, she exhibits honesty and self-awareness by openly acknowledging her lack of clarity.

Admission perspective: recognizing potential and integrity

This insightful report effectively utilizes the 4 rating to assess Kelly's interview. While the content shared may not have been exceptionally strong, Kelly demonstrates potential for intellectual vitality through her commitment to academic success and her eagerness to explore new ideas. Additionally, her strong communication skills, integrity, and relational abilities contribute to a 2 rating for Character/Self-Presentation.

OVAL Tip: Remember that a 4 rating signifies "good" and should be utilized accordingly. Each theme should be independently assessed using the full rating scale.

7.2 Providing context in the interview report

Alumni interviewers can provide additional context about the candidate or local community if relevant. Contextual information helps admission officers understand the applicant's circumstances and achievements better, contributing to a more holistic evaluation.

8. The impact of the interview in the application review process

The interview report is an integral part of the holistic application review process at Stanford. While its impact on a student's candidacy is unpredictable, it provides valuable insights that complement other application components. It is important to note that no single person is solely responsible for admitting a candidate.

The interview process is meant to be unbiased and balanced

9. Common issues in interview reports and suggestions for improvement

9.1 Lack of detail in interview reports

Interviewers should aim to provide specific information related to the rating themes and offer examples connecting to the applicant's qualities. Detailed narratives enhance the admission officer's understanding of the applicant.

9.2 Differing impressions and challenges in rating applicants

In cases where interviewers have differing impressions of applicants, it is crucial to provide a balanced assessment. Highlighting both strengths and weaknesses, while emphasizing the applicant's overall potential, can aid in assigning accurate ratings.

9.3 Avoiding opinions without support

To maintain the integrity of the interview report, interviewers should provide evidence or examples to support their statements about the applicant's abilities and interests. Clarifying any contradictions between statements is essential.

10. Providing further context and enhancing understanding

10.1 Value of additional context in reports

Including additional context about the applicant's circumstances and achievements adds value to the interview report. This information should be factual rather than evaluative, providing a broader perspective for admission officers.

10.2 Avoiding generalizations and providing specific details

To enhance the admission officer's understanding of the applicant, interviewers should avoid generalizations and provide specific details. Specific examples and anecdotes can illustrate the applicant's unique qualities and experiences.

11. The importance of objectivity and overall impression

11.1 Effective use of the rating scale

When assigning ratings in different categories, interviewers should use the full rating scale effectively. Providing specific reasons for assigned ratings and avoiding personal comparisons between applicants ensures objectivity in the evaluation process.

11.2 Considering overall impressions

While evaluating different themes, interviewers should consider the overall impression an applicant makes. Each theme contributes to the applicant's profile, and a balanced assessment helps admission officers understand their potential fully.


Alumni interviewers play a crucial role in Stanford University's admissions process by providing unique perspectives and evaluating applicants holistically. By adhering to best practices, asking thoughtful questions, and providing specific examples and context, interviewers can contribute to creating a positive and informative interview experience for applicants. Their valuable insights, captured in the interview report, become part of the holistic application review process, assisting admission officers in selecting exceptional candidates who will thrive at Stanford University.

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