The University of New Mexico (UNM) College of Pharmacy has a 75-year history of serving their diverse in-state student population. As the only college of pharmacy in the state of New Mexico, UNM Pharmacy has built a strong reputation amongst the local students for delivering quality education through a tight-knit classroom and campus environment. 

Having applicants feel that sense of community throughout the admissions process has been top of mind for UNM Pharmacy since the beginning. 

“We used to do everything in-person,” shared Krystal Ward, Assistant Dean for Student Affairs at UNM College of Pharmacy. “We had an all-day event with presentations, tours, and interviews which lasted around 6 hours. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, we moved that process to Zoom.”

But while the convenience of the online format was greatly appreciated by applicants, the long days in front of a computer weren’t giving them the warm sense of community that UNM Pharmacy is known for. 

“Once we were able to come back on campus, we knew that we needed to find a way to still offer the convenience and accessibility of the online experience,” explained Ward.

“Kira gave us a way to evolve our process, allowing us to maintain the core components that are important to our mission and vision as a school, while continuing to offer applicants a more convenient experience.”

An inside look at UNM Pharmacy

UNM College of Pharmacy is among the smaller pharmacy programs in the United States, enrolling around 60 students per class, for a total student body of approximately 250.

“We have around 100-110 applications per cycle and we usually interview 70-80 of those applicants,” shared Ward. “As we’re the only pharmacy school in the state of New Mexico, our primary purpose is to serve the in-state student population, but each year we also receive a small number of out-of-state applicants.” 

Although small, UNM’s classes tend to be very diverse, with many first-generation students enrolled in the program. With these applicants in mind, it is important to UNM Pharmacy that their admissions process is streamlined and easily accessible.

“We had just wrapped our admissions cycle right before the COVID-19 pandemic hit,” Ward shared. “At that point, it was an all-day event which lasted around 6 hours. Students would come to campus, they’d watch presentations, they’d do a traditional interview with two members of the admissions committee and finally, they would take part in a 5-station MMI, and a 30-minute writing exercise.”

In 2021, the college of pharmacy moved that process to Zoom.

“It was the same process, but recreated using Zoom breakout rooms,” Ward explained. “In order to make it work, we had multiple accounts running on Zoom and several people managing the movement of applicants in and out of breakout rooms.” 

“But in the fall, I attended a webinar where I learned how the University of Michigan College of Pharmacy had optimized their admissions process with Kira, and I discovered what it could do for our admissions team,” Ward continued. “Up until then, we had essentially resigned ourselves to the fact that the online process was what it was with Zoom, but all of sudden we saw an opportunity to hone in on the aspects that we liked in the online process and create an overall experience that was so much better.”

Not settling for a 'good enough' admissions process

After submitting their application and letters of recommendation through PharmCAS, applicants are screened by the UNM Pharmacy admissions team to check if they meet the minimum GPA and prerequisites,” explained Ward. “Applicants who meet or exceed those requirements are automatically invited to interview.”

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At UNM Pharmacy, an invitation to interview includes participating in a traditional two-on-one interview, a 30-minute writing exercise, and a 5-station Multiple Mini Interview (MMI).

“We brought MMIs into our process in 2017,” shared Ward. “It’s a great method for equitable interviewing as applicants rotate through different stations, each with its own standardized question or prompt. Because of the structured nature of the interview, the MMI helps us ensure there’s a consistent experience for all applicants, and it helps us mitigate bias in our admissions process.”

“The downside of the MMI is that it does typically put a large time burden on the admissions team to pull off,” Ward added.

“Kira showed us a world where we could maintain the integrity of our MMI, but deliver it in a way that was more convenient and efficient for our faculty, applicants, and admissions team.”

The flexibility to deliver interviews the way you want

“With Kira, we had the option of delivering our MMI either live or asynchronously. Being that one of our primary goals was to make this as convenient as possible for applicants and interviewers, the asynchronous method really captured our interest.” 

With an asynchronous MMI in Kira, applicants still move through stations in the same way that they would during a traditional MMI, only the questions are delivered by video recordings made by the school's own faculty and staff, and the interview can be completed on the applicant's own schedule. By assigning reviewers to assess specific stations, Kira’s horizontal reviewing functionality ensures that each applicant is still being seen and evaluated by a diverse set of reviewers. 

“With the asynchronous method in Kira, we’ve been able to maintain that consistency, but everything is much more efficient, more convenient, and much more accessible for our reviewers as well as our applicants,” explained Ward. 

“Kira Talent provides us with a flexible platform that works for our established process, rather than making us adjust our process to fit the platform. Other video interviewing vendors just don’t offer that.”

Keeping applicants more engaged throughout the process

By keeping their two-on-one interviews in-person but transitioning their MMI and written exercise into a Kira Asynchronous Assessment, UNM Pharmacy has strengthened their interview attendance rate. 

“Making the Asynchronous MMI in Kira due one week before our interview day has saved us a lot of headaches,” shared Ward. “Prior to Kira, we had a lot of last-minute cancellations on our interview day. Having applicants complete the MMI online the week before lets us know which students are committed to the admissions process and which students we needed to reach out to and check up on.” 

“This year with Kira, we had zero no-shows on interview day. We didn’t have to adjust schedules last minute and we didn’t have any gaps for our interviewers.”

Securing buy-in for a new process

“Bringing Kira into our process was actually one of the easiest sells I’ve ever had to do,” shared Ward. “Our board is involved in the reviewing process so they saw right away what a benefit it would be to be able to run the MMI on-demand and have applicants and reviewers complete the assessments on their own time.” 

That has been the focus of the overwhelmingly positive response that UNM Pharmacy’s admissions team has received from their reviewers.  

“Being able to review applicants on their own time, whenever it’s best for them, means that reviewers are not only more willing to volunteer, but we’re also ensuring that applicants are being fairly evaluated,” explained Ward.

“What we were more nervous about was selling the new process to our applicants,” she continued. “But where we anticipated we might get pushback, we actually got a ton of positive feedback.”

UNM Pharmacy’s applicants found that Kira offered them a more comfortable atmosphere in which to interview, giving them an opportunity to truly put their best foot forward.

“I’ve been looking at the feedback from our students and many of them mentioned that, with Kira, they were able to ensure that they were in the right headspace and they could focus on answering the questions,” explained Ward. “Kira also helps them get a feel for our school, so when they come to campus they already have a sense of the program and are excited about the opportunity to study here.”

Gaining a new partner in holistic admissions

“Even with all of those benefits, I still think that Kira’s biggest differentiator is their team and the service they provide,” shared Ward.

Kira assigns each program a dedicated Client Success Manager who provides hands-on assistance in designing, building, and running the interviews and assessments. 

“They essentially became another member of our admissions team,” said Ward. “Starting with creating and refining our questions, we were able to simply describe what qualities we were looking for in applicants and Kira had a whole bank of questions which we could pull from.” 

“Although we had been doing the exercises for years, having Kira’s expertise has really enhanced the responses that we’re getting from applicants,” she added.

Ward estimates that the UNM Pharmacy admissions team saved over 50 hours by switching to Kira Talent. 

“When I consider the time it took for our team to set up a traditional MMI and manage all of the stations, that 50 hours is honestly a lowball estimate,” she clarified. “Whatever questions myself or my staff had, Kira was quick to respond and offer clarification or make whatever changes we wanted.” 

“Having that level of dedicated assistance saved us easily another 50 hours by not making us figure out the ins and outs of the platform.”

“We lost a member of our admissions team right before the cycle started and I don’t know how we would have gotten everything done if it weren’t for Kira,” Ward explained. 

At Notre Dame University’s Mendoza College of Business, a mission to enroll purpose-driven leaders is at the core of the school’s admissions decisions. Celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2021, the school’s rich history, awe-inspiring alumni network, and consistently strong rankings attract a wide audience of applicants. 

Recognizing how difficult it was to ascertain their applicants’ academic aptitude, social capabilities, as well as their potential to succeed in their chosen field from only a resume, transcript, test scores and a couple of essays, Mendoza sought out a better way to connect with their applicants.

In 2015, the school added timed video and timed written questions through Kira Talent, as a way to give applicants the ability to exhibit their full potential while simultaneously streamlining the overall process for the admissions team. 

Starting with the MBA program, Mendoza has since expanded their use of Kira assessments across multiple graduate business programs, providing the team with a more multi-dimensional picture of who an applicant is, beyond what they can show on paper. 

Getting to know applicants earlier and more efficiently

Prior to Kira, Mendoza conducted interviews on a rolling basis, interviewing around 90% of all applicants who applied. Although this helped give the team a more well-rounded view of their applicants, the burden on the team was significant. 

“The process was overwhelming our recruiting and admissions teams. Coordinating the interviews, with all the scheduling and rescheduling, and accommodating different time zones, was labour-intensive,” shared Maria Stutsman y Marquez, Director of Graduate Recruiting & Admissions at the University of Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business. 

“We needed a structured way to provide our admissions committee with more in-depth insights into our candidates prior to sending out invitations to interview.”

With Kira, Mendoza is able to get a better sense of their applicants earlier in the admissions process.

Timed video and timed written responses provide reviewers with a more holistic view of each applicant, while streamlining the overall process. The platform’s integration with Slate further simplifies the process, allowing reviewers to view the responses with the rest of a candidate’s application.

“Now we have an efficient way to see and hear from everybody before we make that decision of who to invite to a formal interview,” shared Stutsman y Marquez. “We can conduct fewer interviews because we’re able to make more confident decisions about who we’re inviting to those interviews.”

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Finding the hidden gems in your applicant pool

With their new holistic approach in place, Mendoza’s team soon found a number of exceptional students who they may have missed with their old process. 

“You’ll see someone’s scores, for example, and they’re not really where they should be. But then you’ll watch their video responses and they have great language skills, they express themselves clearly, and you can see their passion and potential to succeed,” shared Debby Herczeg, Assistant Director of Admissions at Mendoza School of Business.

“Kira has helped us find a lot of diamonds in the rough.” 

“With our old process, I would estimate we were missing up to 10% of applicants who were hidden behind low test scores.”

With the ability to create an assessment specifically tailored to a program’s needs – from the questions asked to the competencies applicants are evaluated for – the Mendoza team can more quickly identify the candidates who will be successful in their programs and in the workplace.

“Kira really helps us uncover the humanness of the applicant profile you’re reading,” explained Stutsman y Marquez. “The candidates are no longer a static profile of cognitive scores, academic background and the essays they wrote. The admissions committee actually gets to see how they present themselves in a variety of in-program and real-life contexts.”

“Yes, Kira helps save us time. But, more importantly, it enables us to find the hidden gems in our applicant pool,” added Herczeg. “That’s been the biggest benefit. With Kira we get to meet every applicant and go into admissions decisions with a better understanding of their talents.”

A structured approach to reducing admissions bias

“With Kira we saw an opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of who our candidates are, while bringing a new level of structure not only to the interview process, but also to the application process as a whole,” shared Stutsman y Marquez. 

One element that Kira brought to the table was independent review. By enabling multiple reviewers to independently evaluate an applicant's responses on their own schedule, Kira helps Mendoza gather more diverse perspectives without necessarily adding more time to the overall evaluation process. 

Built right into the Kira platform, custom rubrics add further structure to the reviewing process by ensuring all reviewers are evaluating applicants based on the same criteria. Reviewers are able to reference the defined criteria on the rubric and score applicants as they review their responses.

“For us, having that structured process in place is so pivotal to creating a level playing field as much as possible for every candidate,” Stutsman y Marquez added. 

“As we look to support the building of a diverse cohort, Kira plays an important role in helping us reduce bias by creating a more structured approach for all candidates, and this is critical to bringing in distinct voices and perspectives to the community.”

The new era of admissions requires effective and efficient admissions processes. And while adjusting time-honoured processes may seem daunting, a few simple updates can help you start identifying top applicants faster and putting time back in your team’s day.

But with a limited budget and endless areas of need, deciding which initiatives make the cut can be difficult.

Kira Talent has optimized the online interview process for hundreds of admissions teams, and now with Applicant Pay, you have the freedom to make your admissions process more efficient and holistic while working within your team’s budget constraints.

Transform your admissions process

Start making more informed decisions about applicants and increase the efficiency of your admissions process with Kira Talent.

Find your best-fit students

Focus on getting to know your applicants in a meaningful way through timed video and timed written assessments and live interviewing. Assess for program fit through competency-based evaluation, combined with traditional application materials like test scores and transcripts.

Eliminate scheduling headaches

With Kira, your days of juggling multiple links and calendars are over. With Live Interviewing in Kira Talent, your spreadsheet schedule is transformed into a live interview with unique interview links that automatically place applicants and reviewers in the right interview rooms, at the right times.

Want to erase the hassle of scheduling altogether? Access recorded responses on-demand, allowing reviewers to evaluate applicants on their own schedule with Kira’s Asynchronous Assessment.

Create a consistent and unbiased interview environment

Kira is designed to ensure consistency by offering structured rubrics, flagging potential applicant issues, and summarizing team feedback so your program can make fair, unbiased admissions decisions.

Get started with Applicant Pay

Applicant Pay offers your team the option to start building a more efficient and holistic admissions process now, while providing the flexibility to accommodate your team’s budget constraints.

Pass on a nominal fee to applicants who take your assessment in Kira, and decide how applicant payments are used. Depending on the Applicant Pay plan you choose, Kira will either remit to you all payments made within a contract year, or the applicant payments will stay with us to cover the cost of your Kira contract. 

All payments are effortlessly collected within the Kira platform in accordance with PCI compliance, eliminating the hassle of dealing with bounced charges or managing third-party integrations.

Already have a Kira Talent account? Contact your Customer Success Manager to set up Applicant Pay.

Three years ago, The York School admission committee decided to try something different. As the number of students applying to the school continued to rise, the small team realized the competitive edge to be gained from adding a timed video and timed written assessment to their admissions process. 

With their online assessments through Kira Talent, The York School is able to more confidently determine applicant fit and create a unique experience for students.

“Kira helps tell a student’s story beyond just a metric."

"I think that helps us be more informed and confident when it comes to putting the right kids into our classrooms,” shared Praveen Muruganandan, Director of Admission and Advancement for The York School.

Building better classes with more insight

The admission committee is able to use their video assessments in Kira to gather insight into the character and personality of their applicants. Gaining a deeper understanding of who a student is, before they ever set foot on campus, helps The York School make more well-informed decisions about prospective students. 

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Knowing that Kira helps his team make sound decisions based on standardized criteria is also a key benefit for Muruganandan. 

“Kira helps us mitigate admissions bias reinforcing alignment within the team and structuring scoring so that it's set against the criteria we've set."

"It’s nice to know that the team is able to make pretty good decisions based on those review points,” Muruganandan added.

Creating an admissions process unlike any other

As the first school in Canada accredited to offer the International Baccalaureate (IB) from junior kindergarten to university entrance, innovation is part of The York School's DNA. It then follows that providing the best possible experience for their students starts with a unique admissions process.

Incorporating Kira assessments helps The York School distinguish themselves from other schools because “the resounding response from students is that it’s the best part of the application experience. It provides them with a unique opportunity to fully express themselves,” said Muruganandan. 

The format of Kira video interviews requires students to think on their feet and be willing to work outside their comfort zone, giving the admissions team an opportunity to identify the attributes that set each student apart during the application process.

Not only is the admission committee able to provide a unique experience for students right from the start, they’re able to do it in a way that doesn’t overwhelm their small team. Kira assessments enable them to increase their efficiency so much that Muruganandan likens the hours they’ve saved to having an additional person on their team. 

Preparing the world’s future leaders

With top programs at universities including London Business School, UC Berkeley, and Yale all requiring timed video and written responses in their admissions process, The York School is also giving their students early exposure to the kind of admissions criteria they’ll likely encounter as they progress to higher education.

Staying true to their history of innovation, the school provides a highly memorable admissions experience that sets the tone for an extraordinary education.