- 9 Tips for Mastering Alumni Interviews – US News
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Tips from a Duke alumni Interviewer
1) Respond back promptly to your interviewer: I’m always surprised at how long it takes most students to respond back to my email requests for interviews. Routinely I have to send 2 followup emails and with a followup phone call. The longer it takes you to reply back to my email, then I immediately wonder how strong your interest in Duke is.
2) Proper email etiquette: In emails responses back to me, don’t use slang terms. Don’t write an email back to me using text jargon. I expect to be written back to in full sentences with proper grammar and english spelling. Please use proper titles when writing back (never use first name, use “Mr” or “Mrs”).
3) Be flexible with your dates: Alumni interviewers are busy professionals. We have other lives and try to juggle this interviewing between the other things in our lives. We do this on a volunteer basis and don’t get paid. So be a little flexible on your dates/times for interviews.
4) As meaningful questions during the interview: Even if you’re not interested in Duke, pretend like you are and don’t ask mundane questions that you can get from the Duke website. Don’t ask me how hard it is to get Duke basketball tickets.
5) Casual dress: Even though the interviews are stated to be informal, dress like you would for a job interview. For males a dress shirt and khakhis (with or without a tie) is appropriate. For women a dress blouse and slacks/skirt would be appropriate. No sneakers, no tattered jeans and no t-shirts.
6) Write a thank you note as followup. You’d be surprised as to how many students forget this small tip. In several years of interviewing, I’ve awarded the highest rating only twice, and both the students had sent me a polite thank you note afterwards. This personal touch reinforces to the interviewer your sincerity and goes a long way.
7) Have a consistent message: If you’re interested in a science major then all of your favorite books and favorite things to do on your day off should be related to science. I get worried when students tell me they are interested in one type of major and then answer questions about favorite books and subjects completely differently. I always ask about what electives a student is taking. This should be consistent with the potential major the student is considering in college. If you’re interested in science as a major, then don’t tell me that you’re taking art history as your only elective in high school. This is a sign that someone is not being entirely honest with me.
8) Be honest: If your favorite thing to do on a day off is to lounge around and play video games – just say so. I get frustrated when I hear that students say they would much rather read poetry and classical books on a day off. Come on, don’t be afraid to tell me the truth. Keep me interested.
9) Don’t pretend to know everything: You’re only 17-18 years old and you’re not expected to know whatyour career goal is. If you still don’t know then don’t be afraid to say so. Just be prepared to tell me what subjects are your favorite and why you like them.
10) Don’t be afraid to use humor: some of the best interviews I’ve had are with young students with a great sense of humor. Try to make the conversation flow and don’t make me ask all the questions.
11) Look up your interviewer: One of the students that I gave a “5” rating to (the highest) had done his homework on me before the interview. I guess he probably looked me up on a search engine. He seemed to know how to strategically move the interview towards my favorite sports and my hobbies. This was quite impressive that the student was so well prepared. Google can be your friend.
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