The Value of Admissions Interviews

Lisa Rosenberg, PhD, RN
Associate Professor
Rush University College of Nursing
Do interviews provide relevant
data in making admission
Are attrition rates affected when
interviews are conducted?
Times Have Changed
 Qualified applicant pools
 Waitlists
 Expanding enrollments
 Faculty shortages
 Overflowing clinical sites
 Full classrooms
Attrition Rates
 General pre-licensure attrition reported in literature
from 10-44%
 Accelerated pre-licensure attrition, 10-20%
 Rush Generalist Entry Master’s program, < 5% thus
 Other Rush graduate programs (specialty Masters,
Why It Matters
 More nurses will enter the workforce
 Fiscal implications for school and
 Effect on morale of faculty and
student body
What Does the Literature Tell Us Are
Predictors of Academic Performance
 Standardized Tests
 Environmental variables, e.g., child care, family crisis
 Working full or part-time
 Personal problems
 Professional incompatibilities
 Behavioral anomalies
Cost-Benefit of Interviewing
 # of hours to interview applicant pool, file review and
interviewer training
 Average faculty salary per hour
 Tuition for a single student over total program
If the data provided from just one interview led to
the denial of an applicant who was believed less
likely to succeed and was replaced by an
applicant who was ultimately successful, then
the financial cost of interviewing was
immediately recovered, as well as the
projected revenue.
Admission Interview Reliability
 Demonstrable rating criteria
 Standardized interview guide
 Interviewer training
 Paired faculty interviews
 “Post-Mortem” review to guide revisions to
the interviewing process
The Interview Process
 Experienced teachers in relevant program
 Two faculty, 25 min. interview, 5 min. postdiscussion
 Interview guide followed, standard information
gathered, addl. questions as needed
 One faculty records during interview
 Evaluation form completed in post-discussion
The Interview Guide
 Five questions + related probes
 1 – 5 rating scale
 Interviewers assess:
1. The candidate’s motivation to enter nursing and
capacity for empathy
2. Ability to describe what nurses do
3. Suitable personal characteristics and readiness
4. Ability to manage a full-time program
5. Academic/life inconsistencies
Interview Guide cont.
 Summary comments
 An overall rating of highly recommend,
recommend, recommend for waitlist or
deny is required
 For each rating there is a standardized
detailed description
The Post-Mortem
 Important to review the files of those students
who, especially early on, did not complete the
 Could these student outcomes have been
predicted from their applications or interview
 Data that was either overlooked by the
interviewers or not viewed as significant by the
admissions committee gave indication to
potential difficulties ahead.
But Does It Work?
 Attrition comparison from regular to accelerated
 Anecdotal experience – applicant who “looked
good on paper” but in interview presented with
obvious behavioral anomalies
 The professional and fiscal benefits of
interviewing do not rely on making many good
decisions, just one
Interviewing for MSN Specialty, DNP and
PhD Programs
 MSN Specialty - Specific advanced practice specialty
requirements, understands specialty practice role of
interest, possible case scenarios
 Post-Master’s DNP – Leadership context and ability
to complete a large scope change project
 PhD – Research phenomena of interest appropriate
fit with institution and faculty
 Always assessing for problematic behavioral or
interpersonal characteristics
 Done well, interviewing applicants is in their best
interest as well as that of the faculty, student
body and institution.
 Though a time commitment is necessary, even
minimally improved attrition rates make
interviewing a fiscally prudent decision.
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