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Senior Interviewer - Week One (What's it all About?)

September 17, 2013

The seniors strike a pose during their first week of training.

"My favorite class is AP Literature ... because ... books?" Man, this was hard. First day of Senior Interviewer training and I was doing a mock interview with a fellow Senior Interviewer, pretending to be a high school senior. And I was failing.

How did I do this when I was applying to colleges? I thought back to all the college interviews I had done, strewn with lists of pointed questions, furiously scribbled notes, and long discussions about photography (didn't they understand I didn't even like photography?). Yes, I had made it through, but was "making it through" really the best one could expect from an interview? Talking about myself - my experiences and my passions - should be fun. People love talking about themselves. There's no easier topic.

Second day of Senior Interviewer training. We're seated at a long table discussing college-classroom-style what role an admissions interview should play and what that interview should add to an application. Looking at the admissions officers leaning idly back in their chairs in the corner of the room, I never thought I would be a part of, or in fact leading, this discussion - that I would be framing the requirements of my own job. Where was my list of pointed questions and checkboxes?

That's when all of us Senior Interviewers stumble upon our conclusion: this is what Pomona is all about. It's that openness, that dialogue, that valuing each other for more than their resume. We want the students who come here to contribute to our community on campus, in whatever way that might be, and to us, as Senior Interviewers, that means getting past the lists and the boxes and the whats and getting to the whys, the hows, and the self-reflections. We want to get to know our interviewees as people - what they want to talk about and what they have taken away from their experiences. I don't want to force someone to talk about that photography class they don't care about because a list tells me to. I want to know about that science project they dedicated their junior year to, that backpacking trip they took, that book they read in English that just stuck with them. And I get to do that because for us, the college interview is really just a conversation.

It's the Friday of training week. We're standing outside the admissions office in our professional best, struggling to arrange ourselves in an orderly fashion and hold back our laughter in a valiant effort to take a group photo. Real interviews start the Monday after next and aside from the standard first-day-on-the-job nerves, I can't imagine being more ready. Having meaningful exchanges, meeting new people, listening to their stories - this is something I've been doing my whole life. It's a self-proclaimed people person's dream job. And I couldn't be more excited to start the conversation.

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