Wake Forest University offers virtual interviews for admissions
December 1, 2008
Using a webcam, a microphone and the Internet, some students applying to Wake Forest University can now sit in their living rooms at home and have a “face-to-face” conversation with an admissions counselor at the university.
Wake Forest began offering virtual interviews on a limited basis to early decision applicants in October and about 30 students have chosen the new option. In December, virtual interviews will be available to other applicants.
“While a personal visit is the first choice, the virtual interview is an innovative way to use technology to connect individually with those who, because of financial or other reasons, cannot come to campus,” said Martha Allman, director of admissions at Wake Forest. “This combines Wake Forest’s historic commitment to personal attention with our emphasis on technological innovation.”
Wake Forest began strongly recommending personal interviews for all applicants in May after it became the first top 30 national university to drop the SAT/ACT requirement for undergraduate admissions. The Admissions Office has conducted nearly 3,000 interviews, in-person and via the Web, since last spring. Most of those interviews were conducted on campus or by admissions counselors traveling around the country. But, the virtual interview with two-way video and audio has become an attractive option for some students.
Wake Forest’s Information Systems Department worked with the Admissions Office on the technical aspects of the project and helped train admissions staff to use the technology.
Virtual interviews last 20 to 30 minutes, the same time allocated for in-person interviews. And, the interviews (real or virtual) are treated the same in the evaluative process. Except for the occasional pet wandering through the room or a doorbell ringing in the background, the online interviews are similar to what would take place if the student were sitting in the admissions office.
“This allows us to have personal contact with every applicant,” said Tamara Blocker, the senior associate director of admissions responsible for supervising the new program. “We can get a sense of who the student is beyond academic credentials. The interview helps decide if the student is a good fit for Wake Forest.”
Wake Forest offers the virtual interview option to prospective students who have submitted applications to the university, but have not been interviewed. Admissions counselors contact students by e-mail to explain the technical requirements and arrange a time. This fall, admissions counselors are offering virtual interviews to early decision applicants only. In January, they will extend invitations to regular decision candidates who have not been able to talk in person with an admissions counselor. The admissions office is currently using Skype software for the interviews. Prospective students will soon have the option of using Adobe Connect software for Web-based interviews that will not require a Skype account. This will allow students to choose which technology they prefer to use for the interview.
Kevin Pittard, an associate director of admissions at Wake Forest, has conducted several virtual interviews and says the response so far has been positive.
One student thanked him because getting the technology set up for the virtual interview allowed him to help his mother make a video call to her sister in Japan.