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The Dartmouth
April 20, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Four years later; senior interviewers reverse role

For Carmen Harden '96 and Natalyn Nails '96, asking eager high school students questions like "What have you tried and failed at?" is a daily routine.

Harden and Nails are two of the College's 16 senior interviewers, who work part-time as the student liaisons for the College's extensive admissions team, interviewing about 12 to 15 prospective students each week.

In addition to the 16 part-time interviewers the College employees during the regular school year, the admissions office hires five students to serve as full-time senior interviewers over the summer.

Nails said she worked as a full-time interviewer last summer.

"The full-time position involved more than just interviewing prospective candidates," Nails said. "I was in charge of keeping departmental information up-to-date."

Nails said the other four full-time senior interviewers were appointed to oversee other areas of the admissions process including hosting and the "Take Dartmouth Home" program.

Senior interviewers are chosen the spring of their junior year after applying and conducting an interview with members of the admissions team.

Harden and Nails said senior interviewers are trained by sitting in on mock interviews and attending training seminars.

"I could not wait to begin," Harden said. "It was a very rigorous and tedious training period, but very necessary. I couldn't wait to jump into my new job."

What interviewers do

Nails said her job is primarily to "interview candidates for the Class of 2000."

Harden said the interview is a way for students applying to Dartmouth "to get to know what Dartmouth is like. The interview also serves as a personal information session for the student."

For applying students who opt for an interview, Nails said she looks for "a positive attitude ... a love of learning."

"It's nice to see someone who has a humanistic outlook and approach to life," she said. "I look for things within a person which will contribute to the community here at Dartmouth."

Harden said each interview is different and every interviewer has his or her own style.

"I, myself, look for more personal aspects of a student's life," she said. "I try to find ways to bring the application to life and what makes this person distinguishable from everyone else."

Although she said her duties are quite arduous sometimes, Harden said she "loves the job."

"It's a very practical experience seeing that admissions and recruiting is something I would like to pursue," she said. "I'm glad I can be part of the admissions process."

Weight of the interview

Since an interview is not a mandatory part of the application process, Nails said the admissions staff refers to a senior interviewer's remarks when "someone is on the border."

"It helps to have the interviewer's remarks," she said.

If the members of the admissions team are deadlocked over whether to admit or deny a student, they often look at the comments given by the senior interviewer if applicable, Nails said.

Harden said the interviewer's comment are the "last part of a student's application."

"It's usually a reaffirmation of what kind of student they are," Harden said. "The interview is usually consistent with the application."

Whether a student is interviewed by an alumni, admissions officer or senior interviewer, the comments are weighed the same, she said.

Although Nails said most of her interviews have been very good, she said she has had "two really bad interviews."

"One guy didn't talk to me, maybe because he was nervous, and I felt like another guy was condescending to me," she said.

But she added that "I have to be as objective as possible."

Nails said the best advice she could give to applying students is to "be yourself."

"Sometimes 'being yourself' can backfire ... if a candidate's real 'self' is not a very pleasant one," Nails said.

Students must remember "don't try to put on any airs ... Give the best impression you can," Nails said.

"The interview is designed to get to know you," Nails said.