3 Admissions Essay Questions to Understand Applicants’ Employability Potential

 In Best Practices

“Tell us about an experience that had a huge impact on your life.” “Tell us about your biggest role model.”

The predictability of college admissions essays has turned into a bit of a cliché over the years. Many colleges and universities default to the tried-and-true questions without considering if there might be more exciting, original ways to gain insight into a student’s intellectual capabilities, determination and emotional intelligence.

As career services professionals, you should already be working closely with your institution’s admissions department to make sure your school is accepting students with the highest potential for employability. Work with your admissions team and suggest that they try one of the more unique prompts below. These questions are guaranteed to challenge applicants while shedding light on the core traits your institution should be looking to assess.

1. “Take a stance on a controversial issue and convince me, using facts and logic, to join your side.”

This one tests an applicant’s ability to put emotions aside to make an intelligent, objective argument. Allow them to choose an issue they feel strongly about and then see how well they can explain and justify their viewpoint. The point here isn’t to judge them on their stance, but how well they’re able to defend it. Your admissions team will get a chance to see how well applicants are able to channel their passion into a logical argument, which speaks volumes about both their maturity and their communication skills – two soft skills that employers value highly.

2. “Describe the biggest mistake you’ve ever made and what you learned from it.”

This question tests an applicant’s ability to be introspective and demonstrates how well they are able to learn from failure. Forcing an applicant to be this honest will really allow for a clear vision into their capacity for self-awareness and personal growth.
From an employability standpoint, an applicant’s answer to this question will let you know how resilient they’ll be later on when entering the professional world, as well as how capable they are of correcting unsuccessful behaviors.

3. “Tell us what you think we should be asking and why, then answer it.”

Here, the entire essay is completely up to the applicant. They’ve been given all the freedom, which will feel daunting to many of them, but there’s no better way to gauge their creativity and their ability to adapt or improvise – two more soft skills recruiters care about tremendously. Plus, the question they choose will reveal what’s important to them and what they think is the most critical for you to know.

It’s worth suggesting that your admissions team branches out with some new types of admission essay questions to get a different angle into your applicants’ psychology. The more creative you make your questions, the more creative the answers you’ll receive, which allows for a deeper level of insight into who your applicants really are – and, in turn, how employable they might be when they graduate.

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