When students graduate from North Carolina’s Wake Forest University’s School of Business, they’re ready to hit the ground running. Aside from top national and state rankings, Wake Forest is well known for their strong student and career services support, priding itself on students who are successful both in and outside of the classroom.

The school’s Master in Accounting program has consistently achieved one of the highest CPA pass rates in the United States, earning the number one spot 13 times since 1997. A stat which no doubt supports the program’s 100% career placement at graduation.

Wake Forest also boasts one of the first and largest Master in Management programs in the U.S., specializing in a curriculum that students need to find success in their career paths. 

With these top rankings generating growing interest and increased applications to these specialty master's programs, Wake Forest was presented with a significant challenge; How to evaluate students efficiently while giving each applicant a fair chance to show their skills. 

That’s when they turned to Kira Talent.

Assess applicants anytime, anywhere

Wake Forest’s state-of-the-art facilities and strong academic reputation have made it an attractive option for students, not only in the U.S. but around the world. 

25-30% of the MS of Accountancy program and 40-45% of the MS in Business Analytics program enrollments are international students.

International students have proven difficult for Wake Forest to properly engage in the past. Relying on phone interviews, and later video calls, to assess language and soft skills, the admissions team spent countless hours organizing and interviewing these candidates. 

“You can have a very strong candidate, but if their communication and language skills aren’t at a certain level they are going to have a hard time in the classroom and in group settings,” shared Eric Olson, the Executive Director of Enrollment Operations for the Business School.

That’s why, in 2016, Wake Forest switched to Asynchronous Assessments in Kira Talent, replacing over two hundred 30-minute Webex interviews with a five-minute, on-demand video assessment. 

Discover how OSU Fisher College of Business is engaging more applicants faster with on-demand assessments

“Prior to Kira, if we had two hundred short-listed international applicants, that's 200 30-minute video calls. That’s 100 hours of recruiter time spent just on the phone,” Olson explained. “We can now review five to six minutes of video and make a reliable determination if this candidate meets the criteria to move them to the next level and have a face-to-face discussion.”

Olson estimates the recruiting teams save over 150 hours, or approximately 21 business days, per cycle, which they can now focus on other recruitment and admissions efforts.

Saving time where it matters most

“With Kira, we can review five to six minutes of video and make a reliable determination if this candidate meets the criteria to move them to the next level and have a face-to-face discussion,” Olson shared.

Balancing efficiency with effectiveness, the competency-based assessment has saved Wake Forest time without sacrificing their ability to  into their applicants’ key personality traits and attributes 

“Kira helps us assess applicants for not only communication and language but also their motivation, commitment and drive,” explained Olson. “It allows us to get to know the candidate more holistically which helps us make more defensible admission decisions.”

Securing buy-in

Integrating seamlessly with Wake Forest’s existing CRM, the logistical transition was pretty simple for admissions staff at the school of business. Managing applicant progress and organizing scoring data digitally has greatly improved the teams’ use of critical recruiting time.

 “Our staff and faculty who have used Kira have all provided really positive feedback,” shared Olson. “Within the first month, they knew switching to Kira was the right decision.” 

“When recruiters and program leads are going out of the way to tell me something is working out, then it must be really good.”

Read what other schools had to say about their experience with Kira

From scheduling nightmares and technical troubleshooting to the pure exhaustion of being on video calls all day, there are a lot of implications that come with “going virtual.”

Fortunately, over the past decade, Kira has been optimizing the online interview process for hundreds of admissions teams. So while your instinct may be “let’s just do zoom calls”, trust us, there’s a better way.

Here’s why you need Kira this upcoming admissions cycle:

Make online interviews more efficient

There are so many ways that Kira makes everything about your virtual interviewing process more efficient.

Reduce administrative and scheduling time. As your candidates are managed through Kira, you don’t need to worry about scheduling, time zones, or working into the evenings. Plus, your interview panel members can review each candidate on their own time, rather than coordinating multiple competing calendars.

Preview of multiple candidates ready to review in Kira Talent

Review applicants in less time. Reviewing Kira assessments is, on average, six times faster than a live video interview. The small talk, introductions, and question-asking that you’re used to doing, again and again, is optimized as it's pre-recorded in your Kira video questions.
Applicants are given clear and specific time frames to answer each question which leaves you with concise responses.

Integrate with your ATS or CRM. Unlike other video interview platforms, you can easily link applicant responses with the other admissions software you are using.

Kira Talent is now integrated with Liaison CAS™ - Learn more

Reduce support and troubleshooting time. Stop wasting time testing headsets or waiting for applicants to download another new software, before eventually just giving up and dialing in.

Remove technical support and troubleshooting from your team

“Where do I go?”

“Can you hear me?”

“My camera isn’t working.”

“It says my connection is…”

The technical support challenges of any candidate’s experience are familiar to all of us.

Kira’s extensive applicant support is one of the reasons so many schools switch to using Kira in the first place.

Kira is the first point of contact for any and all candidate questions and issues related to the interview and assessment process. We manage all technical inquiries that students may have: From process steps, to connection woes, to camera and microphone challenges, to questions about what they should wear in their interview.

We work with your future students to make sure they are fully supported and have a great experience emblematic of your program.

Don't believe us? Read what applicants say about their experience using Kira: Kira Applicant Experience Report 2020-2021

You don’t have to waste time troubleshooting questions or issues if they arise, you just get the benefit: Seeing and hearing from your applicants. And for your applicants, the experience is better too. 91.1% of applicants rated their Kira experience either “Great” (4/5) or “Exceptional” (5/5)!

Create a fair & structured interview environment

Adding Kira to your process is a wonderful way to add more consistency and structure to your interview process, reducing bias in your admissions decisions.

First, by using Kira, you use structured interviews. Each candidate gets very similar questions in a very similar format, instead of a more casual, conversational interview.

Read: Structured Vs. Unstructured Interviews in Admissions

Although many interviewers prefer the unstructured model of “chatting with candidates,” the approach is less reliable and more difficult to reproduce across all candidates.

Unstructured interviews can work against your efforts to diversify your student body. When an interviewer “really hits it off” with a candidate, because they have so much in common, the ingroup bias leads us to selecting applicants who are similar to ourselves.

Second, with Kira, you can invite more perspectives to review applicants than ever before.

Many admissions teams, unfortunately, are not as diverse as they could be. Use Kira to engage your school community and expand your admissions committee to include faculty, alumni, or even current students.

And finally, our memories are not the most reliable. Since all applicant responses are recorded, you can “go back” and validate a students’ response in the event of a disagreement.

Move faster on engaging applicants

With uncertainty being the definition of 2020, getting your applicants started in the admissions process faster and providing a more personalized experience is critical.

Kira assessments can be sent out on a rolling basis, in batches, or as soon as your application closes, with just a few clicks.

However, coordinating interviews with every single candidate will require your team to swap availability and plan virtual interview days.

Meanwhile, your future students can be hearing back from you and responding to your Kira assessment, long before the other programs they have applied to.

Evaluate written communication skills

Written communication skills are so vital in all academic disciplines.

Through Kira, you can add timed written questions to encourage students to showcase their written voice in addition to their video responses.

Timed written responses provide an opportunity to have students give an authentic writing sample, show how they work through a problem, or solve a technical question. It’s one more data point for you and your team, and one more way students can show their authentic selves. Plus, Kira can validate originality with SimCheck by Turnitin.

Screen capture of a Written Response feature in Kira Talent platform

Make the process accessible for all students

Virtual interviews are a wonderful option for many, but not all applicants. Your typical Zoom or Teams video interview can present a number of barriers to students with disabilities.

Figuring out the logistics of participating in a virtual interview could be so challenging and stressful that students may opt-out all together or not be able to present their best self to the interviewers.

Read: The importance of accessibility and inclusion in your admissions process

Kira’s platform is certified WCAG 2.0 AA compliant, enabling students who use any method of assistive technology to complete their assessments without requiring any additional accommodations.

Protect your team (and your admissions decisions) from burnout and fatigue

Being on video calls all day is exhausting. “Zoom fatigue” has science to back it up.

Virtual meetings increase our cognitive load and our anxiety. We get fewer non-verbal cues so we have to work harder to process.

Plus, we tend to take less breaks or engage in less “social time” during virtual days.

Couple that with the amount of energy and exhaustion you already experience when you would interview all day in person.

Read: How Fatigue Affects Your Admissions Decisions

Exhaustion can hurt your decision-making abilities and may subconsciously lead your brain to rely on ‘biases’ when advocating for or against a candidate.

Putting the admissions decisions aside, exhaustion hurts your team.

Burnout is a serious problem in our remote working world. Even if your team is partially back in the office, the pandemic is taking its toll on all of us as humans. Especially for members of your team with family responsibilities at home.

By enabling admissions teams to review on-demand and take breaks when they need them, they can focus on giving each applicant the time and attention they deserve.

Plus, since responses are collected on-demand, you can scale your team virtually to add more sets of eyes and ears to your team.

Read: Six Ways to Scale Admissions Reviewing With Kira

Still want a live interview?

We've got that too!

From one-on-one to panel interviews and Multiple Mini Interviews (MMIs), Live Interviewing in Kira Talent unifies your tools and processes into a single online platform. Built for the way you interview, Live Interviewing is the most efficient way to engage with your applicants in real-time.

Learn more about Live Interviewing in Kira Talent

Recruiting and admissions are a lot like farming. You scatter seeds through marketing efforts and events, grow and care for your crops through the admissions process, and at season’s end when acceptances go out, you cross your fingers, hope your hard work has paid off and you’ve yielded the best class possible.

Unfortunately, unlike farming, you’re also competing with several other schools to matriculate the same students.

Every admissions team is trying to improve applicant yield. Even the world’s top schools lose quality candidates to one another based on alumni, scholarships, timing, school reputation, location, and a number of other possible factors. Harvard, for example, loses over 30 percent of the students that apply to multiple schools to competitor schools like Stanford, Wharton, and Columbia.

A once starry-eyed applicant could easily be swayed to another school sometime between the time they come for your campus visit and when they get your acceptance letter. Losing your best applicants to another school is not just hurting your bottom line, it’s hurting your alumni network.

Millennials (which comprise most of today’s undergraduate and tomorrow’s graduate-level applicants) have proven time and time again that they like to feel commitment and develop a relationship with the brands they buy. Why should their exchange with schools be any different?

As soon as a student applies to your school, you begin a relationship with them. From a “business” standpoint, this is extremely valuable; they’re invested and interested in being a part of your program.

The worst thing you can do to your new applicants is leave them in the dark.

Timing is everything

There are two standard ways schools manage application deadlines. Some schools offer “rolling assessments” where they review candidates on an ongoing basis, and others work around a hard deadline where they review all applicants at one time during the year.

Based on how your school is staffed and the review process, one method may work better than the other for you, however, response time has a huge impact on your applicants.

For example…

Sam applied to an MBA program at two schools in The United States: School A in Massachusetts and School B in Vermont. She’s a top candidate from New York and meets all of the criteria for both schools. School B is Sam's first choice, but despite applying in January, School B isn’t going to get back to her until at least April for a September start date.

Meanwhile, School A accepted her within four to six weeks of her application and invited her on a campus tour. Once she met some of the staff at School A in late February and knowing she had been accepted, she could really see herself moving to Vermont and fitting in well at the program. Sam wants to get her first tuition deposit paid and start planning her move and departure from work, so because of an earlier acceptance, School A has pivoted into the lead spot.

School B, the original top choice, lost Sam before even reviewing her application.

So what can School B do today to ensure faster decisions so candidates like Sam don’t get away?

The first rule of returning faster decisions

It’s important to preface this whole section with a very important rule: NEVER sacrifice the quality of your review process.

As we recommend ways to get back to students faster, we never mean skipping reference checks, eliminating interviews, or accepting incomplete data. You need to be efficient in your review process, but you should never stop being thorough.


Early acceptances: Easy to implement, and also effective

As you can imagine, some schools are trying to use response time to their advantage, but surprisingly few are doing so effectively. We sat down with Poets&Quants founder John Byrne to talk about this very issue.

He recommended early acceptances as an easy way to improve your numbers by making your top applicants feel special.

“It's surprising that more schools don't do those kinds of things. Particularly schools that are not ranked in the top 25. Making people feel special counts for a lot, in everything in life,” Byrne said. “It's a big deal and I think that would improve applicant yield for a lot of schools.”

Looking outside of academia, speed is a proven factor in successful sales. In an investigation of 1.25 million sales leads, Kissmetrics found the companies that contacted people within an hour of expressing interest in their product were sixty times more likely to further those sales than the companies that took 24 hours. When students apply to your school, you’re fresh in their mind. Don’t underestimate the value of that.

60 times more sales leads

Divide and thrive

Rolling admissions make a lot of sense for schools that have the capacity to review candidates multiple times throughout the year. Most schools we’ve talked to have quotas they try to meet at each deadline: For example, they’ll try to fill 30-40 percent after the earliest deadline, 60-70 percent at the second deadline, then everyone else trickles in afterward. Others will try to get it completely filled after the January deadline, pulling from a waitlist if candidates drop out after enrolling.

As Wan Chen, founder of IvyClimbing Education Services, explains, many schools “admit about 40 percent of students from their early applicant pools, while admitting less than 10 percent during the regular round.” With binding early decisions, students are more likely to commit early rather than risk losing their spot at the school.

“As a result, these early decision schools end up denying more regular round students who look strong in all dimensions, superior to their parents, first-rate to their schools, and admirable to their peers,” Chen wrote.

Strategically, this makes sense. Admissions teams want to fill their classes earlier to ensure they meet enrollment goals.

Plus, working to get back to top applicants quickly can be an easy and manageable way to improve applicant yield that results in a better class next year and a better alumni pool long-term.

Don't maintain the status quo

It’s easy to say, “Our team just can’t go any faster, and this is how we’ve always done it.” However, as an admissions team, it’s critical to step back and look at your process as objectively as possible. This can help determine if your response time is causing you to lose top candidates.

Here’s an experiment. You may already be doing this, in which case you can pull the data from last year:

Next review season, take your top 50 accepted candidates, and ask any who declined their offer why they’ve declined.

For those who have accepted other schools, ask them when they decided to accept the other school and what that school was. 

Keep track of your competitors deadlines and offer dates. See if you are “keeping up with the Joneses” in every sense of the phrase. If you’re not getting decisions back to students within a close proximity to your closest competition, something needs to change.


Introduce on-demand interviews

If your school conducts interviews, whether in-person, on the phone, or via Skype, scheduling and coordinating times that work for reviewers and applicants can be a tedious delay to the decision process.  (Sorry for the Kira plug!) 


On-demand video assessments allow applicants to complete interviews on their time, in their space. Without having to book time off from work or fly across the country to meet you.

Once applicants have completed their assessments, you can review on your schedule as well, carving off review time in small or large chunks. Whenever it’s convenient for you!  Get a demo, here!

“What the video does is get you a piece of the EQ to determine whether you should put someone in the interview pool to begin with,” John Byrne explained. “I think that's actually a very valuable piece of the puzzle here as an offset to simply getting high GMATs.”

Trying to read essays, answer applicant questions, complete interviews, and build a balanced classroom can be chaotic. With asynchronous interviews, you can organize your time in a way that works for you.

The ideal admissions process


the Ideal process


A modern admissions process does not need to be “set it and forget it.”

You can expand your application into multiple stages to keep applicants engaged and educated about your program. An ideal application process takes less than two months. From the time the applicant gets their grades and submits an application to when they get accepted or denied. Here’s a quick summary of what we recommend:

1. Student submits application: A short introductory application. Make this stage as short as possible while still getting all of the essential information.

2. One week later: The secondary application stage. Scheduling a phone interview, a writing test, or an asynchronous video interview through Kira works here. It’s an opportunity to welcome candidates and show them that you’re interested in getting to know them better. It also makes a memorable experience for the applicant and creates a more personal connection to the school.

3. One week after video assessment is due: A virtual or in-person campus visit. For the candidates who pass the asynchronous assessment stage, send a personal invitation or link for them to experience the campus. If possible, this could encompass a campus tour and meet-and-greet with a student, faculty, or admissions personnel to talk about program fit. However, a virtual tour, zoom call, or a phone call are great alternatives.

4. One week after the campus experience: The decision. The applicant has expressed interest by investing in the campus tour (online or in-person). This whole process has given you time to check references, review grades, or whatever else your school requires to background check candidates. If the student is successful, make an offer (or a conditional offer if needed) to quickly give them the response that allows them to start planning.

This is one model to accept students, and it certainly does not fit all programs or all situations. The important takeaway is that the more touchpoints the school has through the application process, the easier it is to improve applicant yield.


Keep the conversation going

If you can't change your admissions process right now, you can still engage students more effectively. Keep students interested from the time they apply to when they receive a decision with these three easy-to-add touchpoints:


1. Email updates

One common tactic graduate schools employ is an admissions blog. Here, they can post updates, application and interview tips, information about the school, and details about events for prospective students.

Regular email updates is another great way to keep prospective students in the loop. Sending useful information, like when they can expect to hear back, is a great way to keep applicants engaged with your school.

Screenshot of Harvard Kennedy Admissions Blog at https://hksadmissionblog.tumblr.com/

Screenshot of Harvard's Kennedy School Admissions Blog


2. Campus visit/Virtual tour

Inviting your accepted applicants for a campus weekend is a great way to cement their love for your school. Give them a “day in the life” experience of a student. If possible, you can even introduce them to faculty, current students, or alumni.

If your campus isn't open or your students are facing geographical barriers, you can offer them a virtual tour or ‘welcome webcast.’ Companies like YouVisit by EAB have realized the demand and created specific products just for this need.

Campus Virtual Tour
Screenshot of YouVisit’s Harvard tour


3. Social media posts and groups

Social media channels are another way schools are connecting with their applicants. Prospective students will often follow a school as soon as they consider attending. Keeping them informed with what’s happening in admissions is a great way to build excitement. Schools can go beyond the more traditional ‘admissions updates’ on Facebook and Twitter. Create a “Class of 20**” group and invite admitted students. Here, they can get to know each other and get excited about the school before they’ve even enrolled. Those connections, between future students and future friends, can help improve applicant yield without you doing much else.

Screenshot of Facebook Page for Western Class of 2024

Western University Class of 2024 Facebook Group

There's no magic trick to improve applicant yield.

Getting decisions back quickly and staying in touch with your candidates is essential to your admissions process.

These changes can significantly improve applicant yield, class quality, and alumni pool.

English speaking institutions rely on standardized language proficiency tests such as the TOEFL, IELTS, PTE, and Duolingo English Test to assess non-native English speakers in the admissions process.

Related: How to Assess Employability in Your Applicants

Communication skills are vital inside and outside of the classroom. When it comes to collaborating with classmates and succeeding in job and internship placements, communication competence isn’t just a nice-to-have. It’s essential.

In fact, you’ll see it on nearly every list of the most in-demand soft skills. From FastCompany to Monster.com to Bloomberg, oral and written communication skills are the essential skills hiring managers unanimously agree on.

The TOEFL, IELTS, PTE and Duolingo English Test are designed to assess written and oral communication as well as listening and reading comprehension.

The Four Big Players in English Language Proficiency Tests


The Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) was originally developed in the 1960s and is administrated by ETS. TOEFL is accepted by more than 10,000 institutions worldwide. It has 4,500 test centers in 165 countries and more US-based schools accept TOEFL than IELTS.

Testing Time: 3 hours 10 minutes
Average Cost: $160 to $260 USD


The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) was established in 1989 by the British Council, IDP: IELTS Australia, and Cambridge Assessment English. IELTS is also accepted by around 10,000 institutions worldwide. It has 1,200 test centers in 140 countries.

Testing Time: 2 hours 5 minutes
Average Cost: $225 USD


The Pearson Test of English (PTE) is an AI-powered, unbiased test for study abroad and immigration. It is accepted for study applications around the world and is approved for all UK, Australian and New Zealand student visa and migration applications. It has 250+ testing centers in more than 50 countries.

Testing Time: 3 hours 15 minutes
Average Cost: $200 USD

Duolingo English Test

The newest kid on the block, Duolingo English Test was first released in 2017. Unlike TOEFL and ILETS, the Duolingo English Test can be taken on-demand by users anywhere with an internet connection. Duolingo advertises that their test is accepted by more than 500 institutions, however, many programs will only accept it alongside an IELTS or TOEFL score.

Testing Time: 45 minutes
Average Cost: $49 USD

Three Challenges with English Language Proficiency Tests


One of the biggest challenges with all standardized tests are the barriers they create for applicants.

Students need to be able to get to a test center, pay for the test, and succeed on the exam. Furthermore, students who have access to preparation resources (like purchasing practice tests) are at a clear advantage.

Duolingo presents a compelling alternative to the two testing giants given it is lower cost, requires less time, and can be taken from any computer with a webcam and internet connection. However, it lacks the strong reputation TOEFL and IELTS have developed over years of testing.


Testing is also susceptible to fraud. As we learned from Operation Varsity Blues, there are covert (and costly) ways to acquire high scores. And with English language assessments, this is no different.

Earlier this Spring, California State Fullerton students were caught helping at least 40 Chinese applicants cheat the TOEFL. And last fall, Niagara College in Canada investigated more than 400 international students who supposedly passed the IELTS but were failing in the classroom.

These are just two of dozens of similar stories that show how vulnerable standardized tests can be to cheating.


As the academic world questions the validity of standardized testing, language proficiency is no different. While studies by ETS, show a solid correlation between TOEFL scores and language ability, there are always going to be questions raised by the outliers, like Jay, a native English-speaking teacher and blogger who scored 6.5 on the IELTS written component.

We’re not here to try to debunk TOEFL, IELTS, or any tests as a useful data point in admissions. However, boiling someone’s grasp of a language down to a few numbers can be a dangerous game. Schools benefit from additional data points to prove the student really can communicate.

No test can compare to the value of hearing students speak and write for themselves.

How Kira Is Different

In an ideal world, admissions decision-makers would have the opportunity to see and hear from applicants. They’d have touchpoints to identify if they are able to say and write a thoughtful response without much aid. Unfortunately, the reality is that many admissions teams do not have the time or resources to meet each and every applicant all over the world.

That’s where Kira comes in. Kira enables schools to ask their applicants to respond to timed video and timed written questions as part of their admissions assessment.

Unlike language proficiency tests, Kira is:

More Human: Kira is different from other language proficiency assessments because it captures true human interactions and shares them with the admissions committee.

With Kira, you can evaluate authentic communication skills in the most efficient way possible. Rather than scheduling a phone call or in-person interview, you can ask your own questions and hear your applicants’ responses in just five-to-ten minutes.

More Accessible: Completing a Kira assessment takes students about 30 minutes, on average, and can be done on-demand anytime (and anywhere) before their deadline.

Students are given unlimited practice attempts and are encouraged to use them to feel comfortable with the platform. 67% of applicants said they preferred completing a Kira assessment to a written essay and 82% rated their overall Kira experience as either “great” or “exceptional.”

Because Kira is offered by programs, there is no additional test-taking fee beyond the application fee that your students already have paid.

More Insightful: Instead of just evaluating for English communication skills, Kira is entirely customizable. We work with you to build an assessment around the core competencies you look for in your students and develop questions and evaluation rubrics to fit the needs of your program.

If you want to ask applicants to work through a technical problem, you can do that. If you want to ask them to answer a question in their native tongue, you can do that. If you want them to upload documents, like letters of intent or resumes, you can do that too.

Harder to Cheat: Using Kira’s on-demand assessments, applicants are required to think on their feet and respond to each question within a window of time. Our suite of integrity features flag applicants who exhibit unusual behavior, such as high numbers of browser refreshes or excessively speedy typing abilities. And, most recently, we’ve partnered with Turnitin to offer a Plagiarism Checker for admissions materials.

Looking to get a more holistic evaluation of your applicants’ communication skills?
Talk to us to start assessing your applicants using Kira.

College recruitment videos are one of the most powerful tools admissions teams have to connect with prospective students.

But with applicants inundated with video content online, colleges are going to need to get creative with marketing and recruitment campaigns this fall.

Looking back at some of the Kira Award for Best Higher Education Recruitment Videos, the best videos won because of good storytelling, authenticity, and emotional appeal.

Today, we’ll tap into the best college videos from the 2010s and look at what we can learn from the higher education recruitment videos of the decade.

Four tips to making great college recruitment videos

1. Know your audience

To start, we’ll go back to 2015’s Kira Award winner: University of Moncton.

When you try to appeal to everyone, you appeal to no one.

Understanding exactly who your audience is, and what they’re going through as they decide on their post-secondary plans amidst a pandemic, will be key to making an effective video.

University of Moncton designed this campaign from the ground up with students in mind and didn’t try to water down their message to make it work for every other stakeholder.

“Everybody has a great program, everybody has scholarships, if you keep saying that you’re not sticking out. And we wanted to stick out,” said Denis Boucher, University of Moncton’s Director of Recruitment in an interview with Kira.

The University of Moncton saw a 22% increase in applications following this campaign — a big victory for a small university.

Do: Talk to your students. Interview five of your applicants and students virtually to really get a clearer picture of what’s on their mind right now and what they want to hear from the university. Read forums like Reddit and social media channels. Your students are talking. Listening will help you make a great campaign.

Don’t: Make assumptions. Survey data and articles online are great, but they aren’t specific enough to your student body. This is the time to ask questions, test your hypotheses, and try something different.

2. Write from the heart

When thinking about video, it’s important to not let the script fall from top of mind. Between YouTubers and TikTokers continually making “off-the-cuff” creations that go viral, it can be tempting to “wing” your video script.

But having a script, and a story, will be critical to sending the right message.

No video shows us that more than 2018’s award-winning video from London Metropolitan University.

““The script is the heart of our video; it was written by someone who holds the University – and its mission – close to her heart,” explained the University’s Director of Marketing, Hasnai Benkacem in an interview with Kira.

For London Met, Benkacem said her team wanted to produce something that would be “a breath of fresh air in what is often quite a repetitive story.”

After we’ve heard “unpredictable, unprecedented, and unusual” uttered endlessly throughout the pandemic, you are faced with a similar challenge: How to stand out.

Getting to the core of your program’s mission and unique value propositions can help you cut through the noise this fall.

Do: Come back to what makes you special. Take a few steps back and look at why your school is special. What are your values? Your unique offerings? Who are the alumni that set the stage for your future students? Think about what it means to be in your community and build that into your video script.

Do: Be careful with your narrator selection. All of the work you do on writing a great script will be lost if the person saying the words can’t deliver it with passion and meaning. We aren’t all going to be able to perform on the same level as Andre, from London Met’s video, but we can all do our best to speak from the heart about the school we know and love.

3. Think differently about college recruitment video formats

Trying to film a compelling video in the pandemic isn’t easy. Between distancing limitations, closed campus buildings, and having to partner with external organizations for cast and crew, it can be a lot to take on.

The result has been a lot of schools publishing “talking head” webcam videos.

While better than nothing, it’s not the most compelling format.

Consider ways to use video that don’t require real-life participation

If you have existing B-roll or can create some, consider combining campus footage with updated messaging relevant to the times.

In 2018, the University of Birmingham displayed how much can be done by combining video footage with sound-editing and the animation of written words.

Although created pre-pandemic, you’ll find that actually only a few seconds of this 1:54 long video even shows more than two people in the same place.

University of Phoenix’s “We Can Do IT” proved that animated videos can be just as powerful as showing real people on campus.


In this tear-jerker, a working mother reinvents her career with an online IT degree from the University of Phoenix and is able to find success that supports her family.

Especially given the economic changes happening globally due to the virus, this video remains a powerful and timely inspiration. Read more about the University of Phoenix campaign in AdWeek.

Do: Think outside the box with video. Don’t feel limited to what you can do with your webcam. Tap into your student body. Talk to your colleagues. See if there’s something creative you can do that isn’t a “talking head on camera.”

Don’t: Ignore the pandemic. At this point, we can’t pretend student recruitment won’t look a little different this year. Setting a campus expectation through videos of students hugging, studying in close proximity, and eating in crowded food courts isn’t going to land this year.

Consider how you can use footage to craft a different message that articulates to students that you understand they’re worried about not getting the campus experience they expect.

4. Focus on authenticity instead of elaborate production in college recruitment videos

Despite being one of the most notable institutions in the world, Oxford’s 2017 award-winner did not play up their big brand. Instead, the team used video as a way to make the institution more relatable to international students.

“We do try to have recruitment products, which are informative and represent the excellence of the University, but also put a friendlier, approachable face on our illustrious reputation. And humour is the best way to reduce the formality of our relationship with prospective students,” said Kathryn Whittington, Head of Graduate Recruitment and Communications for Graduate Admissions in an interview with Kira.

This experience is overwhelming and scary for students.

Many are frustrated about the uncertainty and the risk that they won’t get the ‘college experience’ they dreamed of. As they watch this year’s cohort wade into the unknown, next year’s applicants may already be putting up walls to keep them from getting too excited about any higher education experience.

Showing humanity, empathy, and friendliness to students through videos can help connect with students on a deeper level.

For Oxford, inserting jokes, awkward and relatable moments, reminded students that the university is full of a community of people just like them.

Do: Be a human. The most pandemic-proof recommendation of all is making your institution approachable to the students you’re hoping to attract. Even Oxford, the most illustrious of academic brands, has a target audience that it wants to appeal to in a personable and friendly way. Keep your audience in mind and talk directly to them. Human to human.

Don’t: Just jump onto the latest TikTok trend. As you think about how to be relatable and authentic, it may cross your mind that doing the latest TikTok dance will reel in the followers. It might.

But consider the bigger picture and the bigger story. Perhaps five seconds of your video involves your team attempting a TikTok, because that’s fun, but remember to tie everything back to the “why” of your school.

Although video interview platforms and Kira’s holistic admissions solution both offer a way to see applicants through video, that’s about where the similarities stop.

Kira is different from video interview platforms in four key ways:

1. Kira assessments are structured

The main difference between Kira and video interview platforms like Zoom is that the Kira platform provides schools with a system and structure for interviewing applicants. Interviews can also be conducted asynchronously, with Asynchronous Assessments, or in real-time with Live Interviewing.

Through Asynchronous Assessments, you can record your interview questions one time, and send thousands of applicants to an entirely school-branded experience built just for them.

Your team also has the opportunity to make a lasting impression on applicants with welcome and closing videos, as well as questions recorded by people from your school's community. Kira then invites all of your applicants to complete the on-demand assessment before your deadline.

Unlike a video conference, which offers conversational flexibility, neither the interviewer or interviewee can go off of the structured “interview agenda” and ask follow-up questions. What you do ensure, however, is that every candidate gets the same experience and you don’t risk the interview going off track and running overtime.

Worried about missing the ability to probe during a conversation? Kira also has the ability to nest and sequence a series of video questions to explore and capture a single concept.

Live Interviewing is great option if real-time conversation is the goal. With Live Interviewing, your interview tools and processes are all unified into a single platform, whether you're conducting one-on-one, panel, or Multiple Mini Interviews (MMIs).


2. Kira includes the option for timed-written questions

Written communication skills are so vital in all academic disciplines. Through Kira, you can mix in timed written questions that enable students to showcase their written voice in addition to their video responses.

Timed written responses provide an opportunity to have students give an authentic writing sample, show how they work through a problem, or solve a technical question. Kira also offers an integration with Turnitin to validate the originality of an applicant's response.

3. With Kira, applicant assessment is built-in

The reviewer experience in Kira Talent is designed for admissions teams.

Your admissions committee can review responses on their own time, from anywhere, add their notes, and rate applicants on a pre-established rubric. The structured interview process from the applicant questions through to reviewer feedback helps reduce bias and ensure consistency across applicants

The platform combines committee members' feedback to show you all of the feedback in one place and will equip you for that next committee meeting.

4. With Kira, coordination and management is automated & organized

Kira keeps track of your applicants’ progress through the process, so you don’t have to.

You can see a full dashboard of your candidate pipeline showing where applicants are in the process. You can send reminders to applicants to ensure they complete their assessments.

Once they’ve submitted responses, you can assign your team of reviewers to evaluate an applicant's submission.

Say goodbye to spreadsheets.

Unless you still want a spreadsheet... we can export those for you too.

Next, read: Taking your admissions interviews online? Here’s why you need Kira

“Does a virtual fair even work?”

Prior to COVID-19, if you’d asked this question about a virtual fair to a room of admissions staffers, the results would be mixed.

In-person, you and prospective students can make connections. You know the likely students who are there are a little more committed because they showed up in person. You can get a real vibe for people.

Admissions and recruitment teams tend to agree: Virtual events are a good idea, in theory, but they simply aren’t as good as “the real thing,” an in-person event.

However, since COVID-19,  a virtual fair has become one of the few opportunities for students to “tour” multiple programs.

Programs have offered online information sessions for years, but virtual college fairs are a whole new beast for many.

Normally, you’d set up in an expo hall alongside other participants. However,  a virtual fair comes in many forms from meeting agendas with drop-in, 30-minute webinars about each program, to robust, a virtual fair experience that recreates online expo halls.

From the perspective of your applicants, this is one of the best chances they have to explore and shortlist where they’ll be applying next year. And student fair providers, such as QS, Poets&Quants, and NACAC, are adapting to make this happen.

Early data from QS, the organization responsible for the World Grad School Tour and World MBA Tour, is looking strong for schools using virtual events to connect with students.

Since COVID-19 stall in-person events, QS* has seen:

*Data provided by QS

Recruitment and admissions teams will need to adapt their in-person tactics to the web. Here are nine tips for standing out at virtual affairs.

Nine tips for recruitment teams at a virtual fair

Looking ahead at this fall’s recruitment season, you’ll no longer be hitting the road.

You’ll be polishing your webcam and trying to make virtual events work better than ever before.

Check your connection

Make sure you have a fast and reliable internet connection when participating in a virtual event. This is always true in any webinar environment, but a virtual event is even less forgiving than your online information sessions.

Students have multiple programs to explore in one day, if your presentation is lagging behind or you’re experiencing any technical issues, it could just be enough for a student to close your session and hop into another one.

Having internet woes at home?

Upgrade your video and audio equipment

Tech will help you be competitive.

Fortunately for your expense budget, you can upgrade your tech stack for less than one cross-country flight. A high-definition webcam and a high-quality microphone will make a world of difference for all of your online presentations and videos, but especially in a virtual fair.

Unfortunately, technology bias is real. When communication with your school sounds better and looks better than your peers’, students will leave feeling more positively about your program.

What to buy

Microphone & Pop Shield: A decent USB microphone and a pop shield can turn your presentations from dreary to dynamic.

We aren’t microphone experts. Check out Wirecutter’s “The Best USB Microphone” to find a recommendation.

Webcam: As a rule, look for an HD webcam above 1080p. Your built-in laptop webcam was never intended to be the way you showcased your school, after all.

Not a webcam expert? Check out TechRadar’s “Best webcams 2020: top picks for working from home” for a recommendation.

Invest in pre-marketing

Unlike an in-person event, where you can lure people in with giveaways, swags, and compelling signage, at a virtual fair – you have less of an opportunity to jump off the screen. For some events, students merely must sign up to talk to you based on your school name and nothing else.

Read: Four ways graduate schools can be better at social media

Think about your digital assets like you do your booth

Instead of needing to have the most compelling backdrop, you need to have the best digital assets. Depending on the fair set up, you may have an opportunity to show a video, an image, or a small subset of text.

Scan the virtual floor

At a fair, getting there early and scouting out the competition is standard practice. But at a virtual fair, it’s not as simple as “walking the floor.”

Modify your typical information sessions

It’s easy to take the in-person pitch script that you’ve mastered and throw it onto a virtual presentation, but it may not be effective. People learn differently online. One of the biggest “enemies” of online events is multitasking. You can’t tell if attendees are paying attention, or checking their email in another tab.

Have a clear call-to-action

In any fair, it’s critical you have a next step for you or for a student to ensure they continue in their application. But in a virtual fair, you need to push that call-to-action even further.

Because the student isn’t physically moving from booth to booth, they’re likely taking in a lot of content in the same format, in the same way, you need to make your “next step” stand out.

Don’t just send students to your homepage and hope for the best.

Personalize your follow up (and follow up more than once)

With everything going virtual, it’s quite easy to take a list of attendees and put them on a multi-cadence email follow up list.

But the other schools at the fair are doing that too.

Some examples:

Re: What to expect moving from LA to Toronto

Why engineers like you benefit from our MBA program

More info on the sustainability association at {school.name}

Read: How to maintain student interest from apply to admit to enroll

Track engagement

How will you know this virtual fair worked? Hopefully, fair vendors will be able to send you the names and email addresses of everyone who attended your session or checked out your booth.

But this isn’t always an option. And even when it is, just “showing up” won’t tell you intent.

If you have any more tips for a virtual fair, we want to hear them! Leave your recommendations in the comment section below.

Despite post-secondary institutions' efforts towards new diversity initiatives, adding new roles like a director of diversity to their teams, and striving to make campuses more inclusive, students with disabilities often continue to find themselves on the sidelines.

NCES data showed 14 percent of American students in the 2018-2019 school year had a disability. And globally, it’s estimated that the number of individuals with disabilities ranges between ten and 20 percent of the population.

Yet in our post-secondary institutions, nowhere near that many students with disabilities are graduating.

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data from 2016 reports that only 16.4 percent of people with disabilities have completed a bachelor’s degree or higher.


The mission of our institutions is to bring together a diversity of thought to create and foster knowledge. We go out of our way to grow our enrollment of different students to those we’ve attracted to our campuses in the past.

Yet, ensuring accessibility in our online experiences can often be an afterthought, a follow-up, or a revision.

Colleges and university websites are quick to send students to web pages that describe exceptions and accommodation request forms. But to be truly inclusive, universities should be showcasing opportunities for inclusion and supporting assistance technologies across their systems.

From admissions and residence applications to exams and final papers, historically the onus has been on students to “request accommodations,” rather than expecting schools to create inclusive opportunities that foster a sense of belonging.

Our campuses can and should be more welcoming for students. A more inclusive campus is better for students, faculty, and staff. We don’t need to tell you the immense value of bringing diverse perspectives together.

But it’s also better for enrollment: By investing in accessibility, your team is investing in expanding its recruitment audience.

Four considerations for an accessible admissions process

Start with education

Disability cannot be treated as a catch-all. Your applicants with disabilities will have a wide variety of experiences and unique barriers that need to be considered.

Like other demographic data you collect, such as gender, race, and/or age, ticking a box for “disability” cannot tell you that student’s story.

Students with disabilities face challenges, stereotypes, and unique circumstances in their everyday experiences. These experiences help shape their viewpoints, build resilience and motivation, and inspire ideas and research interests that will impact your campus.

While meeting accessibility standards is important, creating inclusive policies and practices that will make it possible for students with disabilities to thrive needs to happen in tandem.

Here are a few recommendations:

Put inclusion at the heart of your recruitment strategy, not as an add-on

Starting with education will help you do a more informed audit of your full enrollment funnel.

If any prospective student reaches a point where they cannot find information, they risk dropping out of the process. Universities have worked to optimize this with videos, email campaigns, chatbots, and social media.

But for students with disabilities, too frequently, the solutions out there aren’t designed for their needs.

Rather than bolting on accessibility as an after-thought, design solutions that are inclusive from the start.

This takes both education and empathy.

“Contemplate how we will all at some point, in some way, for an indeterminate time in our lives experience ‘disability.’ It’s not ‘them,’ but ‘us.’ recommends Inclusive Media and Design founder, Rob Harvie. “Put yourself in your students’ shoes.”

Read more: Making admissions accessible for everyone: A virtual conversation with Inclusive Media and Design Founder, Rob Harvie

A few suggestions to begin your audit:

Assess your enrollment funnel for WCAG 2.0 Compliance

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) are globally accepted technical guidelines for ensuring your digital properties are accessible. In fact, most regional accessibility legislation, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), directly align with, or are based upon, WCAG.

WCAG 2.0 compliance includes a number of best practices including alternatives for all visual content on your website.

There are a number of items to consider, but here are a few of the major guidelines:

It can be overwhelming, especially if you find there are a number of issues with your digital platforms. But it’s important to start the process, even if that means just in your own day-to-day, points out Harvie.

“You can’t quite drink the ocean. Start with practicing inclusion yourself and ensuring that new (or any) students are aware of any accessibility policies and services provide.”


Your institution may have dedicated resources to support accessibility efforts that you can tap into it to help ensure your enrollment practices are compliant. There are also third-party services and tools like Inclusive Media and Design, eSSENTIAL ACCESSIBILITY, and many others, who can support your school or institution.

Conduct manual user testing by people with a diverse set of disabilities

Consider every element of your admissions application. From researching your program, to visiting campus, to sending in grades, scores, and essays through your application forms, each element needs to be considered for accessibility.

Standard web development tests only capture 25 percent to 30 percent of accessibility issues

– eSSENTIAL ACCESSIBILITY, a Canadian organization that offers a digital accessibility compliance platform.

Read more: “The Essential Guide to Digital Accessibility in Higher Education” by eSSENTIAL ACCESSIBILITY

Manual testing with students who have a variety of disabilities will catch the real-world barriers that automated tests cannot.

Seemingly small issues, like an incorrectly implemented alt tag on a graphic on your website, could be giving a student incorrect information that will negatively impact their admissions application.

Testing at Kira Talent

Ensuring Kira’s applicant experience meets WCAG 2.0 AA compliance requires our team to constantly test each new feature with a number of number perspectives in mind.

One critical evaluation of our platform is ensuring that an applicant is able to complete their assessment from start to finish entirely by voice and audio.

Any point where an applicant would be required to read the screen for information is a point where we need to support a screen reader’s logical consumption of the text.

For instance, in the Kira platform, we need to make sure applicants know what the text says, and if it’s a title, descriptive content, or a button.

For other visual information such as timers and icons, we need to provide auditory prompts to ensure applicants know what is happening, and what’s happening next. Specifically for our timed video and written responses, audio notifications let applicants with screen readers know when questions begin, when timers begin, and when the applicant is nearing the end of their allotted time limit.

We also need to ensure our application provides closed captioning for all video content, can be resized up to 200% zoom, and can be navigated using voice control and dictation assistive technologies.

Bias. No one wants to think about it. No one wants to talk about it.

And if you ask most Admissions Deans: No one on their team has any in their admissions process.