Each interviewer has their own criteria for the "right stuff." Here are my top three:
Intellectual Capability - I look for intrinsic mental capability. SAT scores and grade point average are a beginning, but not the final factors. I also consider intellectual curiosity and depth of understanding. I typically ask about a paper they wrote, a scientific experiment they did, or volunteer work. Does the candidate accept the standard explanations or do they wonder about other causes? Can the applicant explain why he took a specific path or choice? What did the student learn from volunteer work. Based on the discussion, I get a better understanding of their overall mental capability.
Leadership - To me, all applicants should have extracurricular activities as a minimum. I look for leadership participation to differentiate the students. For sports, did the applicant demonstrate outstanding performance in the form of a tournament win or league championship? For student council, did the candidate have responsibility for a major program. For other school activities, did the applicant only participate or take a leadership role in planning for the organization.
Diligence - The third area I evaluate is the student's commitment to doing hard work and overcoming adversity. For me, this is the area that most differentiates applicants. What did they do when results turned out different than expected? Did they have a financial, physical or skill challenges that needed extraordinary effort to change? Did they need to influence others to enable getting something done?
In my 10 years of interviewing, I found these three criteria have often helped me identify the most qualified applicants. Of note, I am amazed how much the quality of applicants increases each year. I often wonder if I would still be admitted if I applied today:-)
Disclaimer: Other than being a graduate, I am not affiliated with Princeton University. This article represents my own views and not the views of the University.
For more on Crossing Generations, check back every Thursday for a new segment.
This is not financial advice. Please consult a professional advisor.
Copyright © 2007 Achievement Catalyst, LLC