Hiring Qualified Admission Counselors

John W. Dysart, President
The Dysart Group

Admission counselors are an integral part of the recruitment process and will likely have the greatest influence on whether prospective students attend your institution.  Admission counselors are on the front line and their ability to build relationships, provide information and deal with objections is critical.

Passion for the Institution/Mission

It is important to hire people able to demonstrate a real passion for the institution.  Belief in the mission and the ability to show enthusiasm for the college or university is a must.  This explains why most admission counselors are graduates of the institution where they are employed.  While status as an alum need not be a requirement for hire, it certainly helps.

Candidates from other institutions can be effective advocates.  Look for applicants that attended institutions that are at least similar.  A graduate from a technical institute may have a difficult time recruiting for a traditional liberal arts college.

Flexible Work Schedule

At most schools, flexible work schedules are a given.  Admission counselors are usually required to travel to attend college fairs and make high school visits.  This can often involve overnight stays and work during the evenings.  Even when not on the road, admission counselors must work some evenings to engage prospective students as the customer is generally not available for communication during the day due to high school attendance and extracurricular activities.

Comfortable with Telephone Outreach

The telephone is still the most powerful tool in college admissions.  You should seek to hire individuals who can successfully communicate by telephone.  Look for applicants with telemarketing experience.  For applicants who have graduated from college recently, find people who may have participated in telephone campaigns for alumni fundraising.  Ensure that candidates understand that they will be spending a great deal of time on the telephone speaking with admission applicants.

General Communication Skills

Telephone proficiency is important, but admission counselors must also be comfortable with face-to-face interaction.  This talent is best evaluated during the interview.  Did the candidate seem at ease during the interview?  Did the candidate demonstrate an ability to think on his/her feet?  Did the candidate make eye contact throughout the interview?  Good admission counselors must be organized, be able to review folders and make informed decisions, but the most important attribute is the ability to communicate.

Basic Knowledge of Texting and Social Media

Seek candidates with at least basic knowledge of texting and social media.  Written communication skills are important.  While most of your candidates will have experience texting, texting by an admission counselor is different.  Such texting is generally more formal and requires writing aptitude.

Ask the candidates about their proficiency in social media.  Do they have a Facebook page?  How do they use it?  Are they familiar with Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest?  During the interview, inquire how they might use each of these social media platforms to communicate with prospective students.

Motivation to Succeed

While it is difficult to measure, you want to hire people who are motivated to succeed.  This is where the resume might be helpful.  Did the candidate perform well in college?  Did the candidate participate in activities such as athletics or the fine arts?  Did the candidate get promoted at previous job?

Hiring effective admission counselors can make the difference in recruitment success or failure.  Take the time to initiate a hiring process most likely to yield excellent admission counselors.