Student interviewing with alum

Unleash Your Inner Interview Star: Ace Your Alumni Interview with These 9 Foolproof Tips and Increase Your Acceptance Odds by 40%!

June 3, 2024

Alumni interviews are a vital part of the college admissions process, offering a unique opportunity to showcase your qualities beyond the application. These interviews hold significant weight in evaluating applicants and provide insights into your personality, curiosity, and motivations.

Approaching the interview with preparedness and confidence is essential, as admissions officers value the personal connection and firsthand perspective that alumni bring. The interview not only allows you to present yourself but also offers a deeper understanding of the school and its offerings. Engaging in meaningful conversations with alumni provides valuable insights and helps you make informed decisions about your educational journey.

To master your alumni interview and open doors to your dream college, it's crucial to go beyond basic preparation. Discover insider secrets and expert advice that will empower you to showcase your best self and maximize your chances of securing admission to your desired institution. Consider the following tips to excel in your alumni interview:

1. Do your research

To impress your alumni interviewer, take the time to thoroughly research the university. As Mickey Metzman, a University of Pennsylvania alum, suggests, going beyond surface-level knowledge shows genuine interest. Explore the school's website, familiarize yourself with its offerings, and try to discover something unique or new about the institution. By showcasing your in-depth understanding of the university, you demonstrate your commitment and enthusiasm. Additionally, research can help you tailor your questions and show a deeper interest in specific aspects of the college.

1a. Do your research, again

One helpful approach is to gather some extra inside knowledge about your interviewer. This can be achieved by exploring their experiences at and beyond the college. Find common ground, such as shared extracurricular activities, areas of study, or personal interests. Establishing a connection with your interviewer on a more personal level can make the conversation more engaging, memorable, and enjoyable for both parties. It also shows that you have taken the time to understand their background, fostering a positive rapport.

2. Attend alone

Ray Esposito, a Georgetown University alumnus, emphasizes that the alumni interview is primarily for you and the interviewer, excluding parents. This is an opportunity for you to showcase your independence and maturity as you embark on your college journey. Take ownership of the interview process, confidently sharing your thoughts, experiences, and aspirations without relying on your parents to speak on your behalf. It allows the interviewer to assess your individuality and communication skills directly.

3. Dress to impress

Student looking in mirror
How you dress can make a big impression on your interviewer.

When it comes to dressing for your college interview, it's important to make a positive impression. As MIT alumnus and interviewer Jonathan Cohen suggests, "Looking sloppy or untidy in your attire is a bad first impression. It gives the appearance that, for some reason, you don't care." However, Cohen also advises students to maintain a balance and not overdress. It's acceptable to appear "neat but relaxed," as if you were presenting a class project. The key is to show that you take the interview seriously and have put thought into your appearance while still being comfortable and true to yourself. Dressing appropriately demonstrates professionalism and respect for the occasion.

4. Demonstrate common courtesy

Esposito further stresses the significance of professionalism, punctuality, and expressing gratitude to your interviewer before leaving. Remember to extend common courtesies, such as a firm handshake, maintaining eye contact, and actively listening during the conversation. These gestures show respect and appreciation for the interviewer's time and contribute to a positive impression. Politeness and attentiveness help create a positive and respectful atmosphere.

5. Be authentic

In the words of Mickey Metzman, "Do not attempt to be what you believe we want. Be who you are, and we'll go from there." Avoid rehearsing scripted responses and engage in a genuine conversation to allow your true self to shine. Be confident in sharing your unique experiences, perspectives, and aspirations. Authenticity enables the interviewer to assess your fit for the university accurately. Presenting your genuine self helps build a connection and showcases your true potential.

6. Showcase your personality

During the alumni interview, it's crucial to answer questions honestly and in detail, as this is your opportunity to reveal who you are beyond your application. Anu Reddy, a Duke University graduate and interviewer, emphasizes the importance of providing more than simple "yes" or "no" responses. She believes that by sharing insights into your intellectual curiosity and passions, you give the interviewer a better understanding of your unique qualities. Reddy's sentiments are echoed by Esposito, a Georgetown alumnus, who highlights that the more you share about yourself, the easier it is for the interviewer to create a comprehensive and meaningful evaluation. Sharing personal anecdotes and examples can help showcase your personality and demonstrate your potential as a valuable member of the university community.

7. Maintain communication

People exchanging business cards
You can keep in touch with your alumni interviewer by asking for their contact information.

Staying in touch with your alumni interviewer can lead to unforeseen opportunities. Following up with a thank-you email or note expressing your gratitude for the interview and reiterating your interest in the university can leave a positive impression. Keeping the lines of communication open demonstrates your continued interest and commitment to the college, potentially opening doors for networking, mentorship, or additional insights into the university. It's a chance to build a professional relationship and leave a lasting impression beyond the interview.

8. Supplement your application

Esposito suggests using the interview as an opportunity to expand on aspects of your application that require further clarification or exploration. Share your motivations, aspirations, and what attracts you to the college. Discuss any challenges you have faced, highlighting your resilience and adaptability. By delving deeper into your application, you provide the interviewer with a more comprehensive understanding of your candidacy, showcasing your potential as a future student. The interview is a chance to add depth and context to your achievements and experiences mentioned in your application.

9. Embrace curiosity

According to Cohen from MIT, the alumni interview is a "two-way street" where both students and alumni can learn more about the school. It's an occasion for applicants to inquire about the experiences of alumni and gain insights into why they chose the institution. Reddy also emphasizes that Duke applicants have the opportunity to discover why alumni selected Duke and gain firsthand perspectives from someone who was once in their shoes. This curiosity-driven exchange benefits both parties and enriches the interview experience. Embrace the opportunity to ask thoughtful and well-researched questions about the college, its programs, campus life, or alumni experiences to deepen your understanding of the institution.


Approach your college alumni interview with confidence, armed with these valuable tips from experienced individuals in the field. Remember to conduct thorough research, be authentic, and share meaningful details about yourself. Dress professionally, demonstrate common courtesy, and supplement your application during the conversation. Lastly, maintain communication with your alumni interviewer to cultivate potential benefits. By incorporating these strategies, you will be well-prepared to make a lasting impression and navigate your college alumni interview successfully.

If you're looking for additional resources to enhance your interview preparation, consider subscribing to Aha. Aha is a comprehensive learning website that offers a wide range of quality sample questions tailored specifically for college interviews. What sets Aha apart is its advanced AI analysis, which helps identify your weak points and provides personalized feedback to help you improve. With Aha's support, you can fine-tune your interview skills and boost your confidence. Don't miss out on this valuable opportunity to excel in your college alumni interview. Subscribe to Aha today and take your interview preparation to the next level!

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