Coveted interviewer posts go largely to non-whites

by AnnMary Matthew | 10/18/04 5:00am

Minorities dominate the highly sought-after senior interviewer positions in Dartmouth Admissions Office, as eight out of the 15 posts this term are comprised of students of color.

This figure is disproportionate to the racial composition of the entire Dartmouth population and may be disconcerting to some students, especially among those interested in applying for the competitive positions.

Senior interviewers are responsible for meeting with prospective Dartmouth students on campus and are well-compensated for their services.

However, according to Assistant Director of Admissions Beth Onofry, who coordinates the hiring process for senior interviewers, the large number of minorities does not misrepresent the racial composition of the student body to potential Dartmouth students.

"There would never be a time when potential students would encounter the entire range of interviewers at one time," Onofry said.

Onofry confirmed that racial background is one factor used in the selection of senior interviewers, but she noted that the Admissions Office evaluates applicants on many facets of their Dartmouth experience, including research, study-abroad experience and participation in campus organizations.

Interviewers should be "articulate, comfortable in an interview setting, able to pull out helpful information and analytical and ask good questions," Onofry said.

The selection criteria for senior interviewers are analogous to the selection criteria for undergraduate applicants to the College and other positions on the Admissions staff, such as tour guides.

Onofry said that it is not official policy to preference minorities in the hiring process, but that "it's part of the philosophy of [the Admissions Office], whether it be undergraduate recruitment ... or filling positions in the office to try to get word out to different communities on campus."

In addition to sending out a general information letter to all students, Onofry affirmed that "the office tries to connect with deans and advisers of students of minority backgrounds."

The office also sometimes sends staff members to recruit interviewers at cultural organization meetings, but "in the scheme of things it's miniscule in terms of recruiting," Onofry said.

Brian Sylvester '05, senior interviewer and president of the African American Society, cited one occasion in which an Admissions Office representative came to speak at one of the organization's meeting. According to Sylvester, "[they were] trying to get a lot of black students to apply."

"This would all happen within a limited time frame," Onofry said, "It's very hit and miss. ... There is no way we could go around and speak to every organization on campus."

"It's important to us to continue to do more with communities of people of color," Onofry said.

She added that the office likes to hire students with a wide variety of experiences.

"[But] it never comes down to the point where we would choose a black student over a white student," Onofry said.

"Basically I think they're just looking for a good representation of interests on campus," Sylvester said. "There might be four black senior interviewers, but we're all completely different -- different majors, different off-campus experiences, et cetera."

The senior interviewer positions are full-time, paid positions in the summer and part-time positions in the fall.

Potential senior interviewers must first submit a paper application. Those who are called back go through two sets of interviews with two interviewers for each interview.

According to senior interviewer Mitzi Huang '05, the job is "really fun. You get to meet a lot of students, and you have some really good conversations."

Advertise your student group in The Dartmouth for free!