Positive personalities. Weeding out interviewees. How learning to cook is just as important as your college essay. This week, SocratesPost talks to Claremont McKenna admissions interviewer and healthcare consultant Tony Sidhom about being impressed by positive personalities and having the freedom to weed out bad candidates.
Exclusive Insider Interview: Admissions Interviewer, Claremont McKenna College
SocratesPost: Tony, tell us about yourself, what you do now, and your experience with admissions at Claremont McKenna.
Tony at Claremont McKenna: Alright, so my name’s Tony and I am a Claremont McKenna graduate of 2017. I was a Science and Management major and the major was a mix of STEM classes as well as accounting and finance classes. Also, I was a dual major in film studies. I used to call that my ‘dinner party’ major because it was a lot more fun than just the STEM classes. Right now, I’m based in San Francisco. I work for a healthcare consulting firm called Triage Consulting Group. We help out hospitals in their revenue cycles so essentially, we help them get more money from insurance companies. I was a tour guide for the college and currently I volunteer as an alumni interviewer.
SocratesPost: When you’re interviewing prospective students, what characteristic traits, accomplishments or profiles tend to impress you most?
Tony at Claremont McKenna: I would say the students who can actually show a positive personality from the get-go. One of the challenging things for the interview is it might be their first college interview or they’re a lot more nervous than they need to be. A lot of the times you only have thirty to forty-five minutes with a student and there’s only so much of them you can guess if they don’t come out of their shell in the first half-hour of that.
SocratesPost: It sounds like the students who really show you their personality and their authentic self sooner rather than later are the ones that impress you the most?
Tony at Claremont McKenna: Yeah, usually. Obviously, if they are mean or rude or I guess, a negative person, that goes the other way.
SocratesPost: Sure, of course. What directions or instructions do you get from the admissions office regarding what kind of candidates to either weed out or to… to file a recommendation for?
Tony at Claremont McKenna: So, CMC’s office of admission actually gives us a lot of autonomy – they do provide us with a training manual as well as letting people phone in for training sessions that occur once a year, where they give us a picture on how we should gauge students, whether it’s based on how they are as students, or how they are as a person. But, beyond that, they very much let us to do the weeding out ourselves. There’s no set questions that we have to ask. If I have a question that I really like to ask of people, then I can ask everyone, or I can only ask partially. They do give us good examples of how to write an interview report. Personally, I like to be the type of interviewer to give the benefit of the doubt to students. I make them have as great an interview as possible but at the end of the day we also still have to be firm and fair because CMC, like lots of colleges in the country, is incredibly selective.
SocratesPost: What is something in the training material that they give you that might surprise an interviewee?
Continue to read what admissions interviewer Tony thinks applicants misunderstand about the admissions process and just how honest he thinks applicants are!
Here’s a sneak peek at the rest of our conversation…
SocratesPost: I like to ask them for something they’re very passionate about that will not show up on a resumé-based article, and I guess a better way to say it is: is there something that they’re really involved in that they do more so for the sake of doing it, rather than for how it’d look like to the college admission process?
SocratesPost: During these conversations you have with applicants, have you noticed anything that they tend to misunderstand about the college admissions process?
SocratesPost: Do you get to know who gets in and who doesn’t among the people you interview?
Stay tuned for the rest of our interview with Tony next week!