Julia Zhou

The Office of Undergraduate Admissions offered more interviews to applicants this year than ever before.

Over the past five months, Yale alumni and Admissions Office representatives interviewed 20,228 prospective students out of a group of 31,439, which was also the largest applicant pool in the University’s history. The number of students interviewed has traditionally been just over half of all total applicants, though that number has been rising each year since 2012. Last year, 18,988 total interviews were conducted; this year, however, interviews with alumni alone accounted for roughly the same number following a recent push by the Admissions Office to expand the network of alumni interviewers and streamline the reporting process. Because there are not enough alumni volunteers, the Admissions Office cannot offer interviews to all applicants.

“Conducting 20,000 interviews this admission cycle was a major landmark for our interviewing programs — alumni and on-campus — and the Yale Undergraduate Admissions Office,” Dean of Undergraduate Admissions Jeremiah Quinlan said. “Given the growth in the applicant pool, the fact that alumni have to cover more ground, I am incredibly impressed by the energy and dedication of our alumni volunteers to keep pace.”

Alumni conducted roughly 19,000 interviews for the class of 2020, while the remaining applicants were interviewed on campus by senior interviewers.

The Admissions Office rolled out a new interview portal in the fall of 2014 that made communication with interviewers more efficient and provided more qualitative guidance to interviewers when producing their reports. Due to the improved quality of the interview reports and the increasing size of the applicant pool, the “spontaneous interaction” between the applicant and his or her interviewer is becoming more and more valuable as a metric to distinguish applicants, Quinlan said in November.

Over the past two years, the Admissions Office has also begun to incorporate Skype and FaceTime interviews to reach applicants in regions where Yale alumni communities are small or nonexistent. Associate Director of Undergraduate Admissions Bowen Posner, who has helped oversee the development of the interview initiatives, said there was an effort in place this year to recruit “Virtual Ambassadors” — recent alumni who would conduct electronic interviews to students in parts of the country with fewer alumni. Since last year, the number of interviews administered online jumped by nearly 400, from 1,529 to 1,927.

Posner added that recent Yale graduates have been instrumental in being able to offer more interviews, and that this group is typically enthusiastic and eager to discover outlets for Yale service. Around 4,000 alumni who have graduated in the past decade currently volunteer to conduct interviews, while the Alumni Schools Committee, which coordinates the alumni interviews, has about 6,500 active volunteers.

Scott Williamson ’80, chairman of the Yale Alumni Schools Committee in Chicago, said there will ideally be a point when Yale has the means to interview every one of its applicants. However, he added that Yale could alter its policy in the future if Yale comes close but is not able to reach this goal.

“I could see a point where Yale Admissions might decide to just use interviews in the early application process, since the ASC program might realistically come close to interviewing all the early candidates,” Williamson said.

Interviews are correlated with higher rates of acceptance, Williamson said, though he noted that this may be because alumni are able to interview a greater portion of the early applicant pool, which typically has a higher acceptance rate than the regular pool. Furthermore, with limited resources, ASC Area Directors may direct interviewers toward schools where students are seen as having a greater chance of admission, he said.

Regular decision notifications for the class of 2020 will be released Thursday at 5:00 p.m.