Perched along the beautiful Malibu coastline, if the campus doesn’t attract applicants to the full-time MBA at Pepperdine University Graziadio Business School, their top national ranking and future-focused curriculum certainly will.
With plenty to attract candidates to the program, what the admissions team needed most was an efficient method of evaluating applicants that still provided in-depth and authentic insights into applicants’ traits and abilities.
“Efficiency is a key theme for our admissions department,” shared Yamiley Saintvil, the Director of Admissions at Pepperdine Graziadio Business School. “Bringing Kira Talent into the process for the full-time MBA program has helped us achieve those efficiency goals.”
Improving the holistic admissions process
“We did not have a formal interview requirement for our full-time MBA prior to implementing Kira Talent,” explained Saintvil. “Using traditional admissions components such as transcripts, essays, and test scores, we were conducting a holistic admissions process but still didn’t feel that we were getting a comprehensive view of our applicants. So when I heard that the faculty was interested in adding an interview component, I started to look at our options.”
In her research, Saintvil found that the school's Master of Science programs had worked with Kira previously to help assess English language proficiency in international students.
“When I explored the Kira platform, I realized that this could be exactly what we needed for our full-time MBA admissions interviews to help us evaluate applicant fit in a more refined and structured way,” she explained.
“We ran our first admissions cycle with Kira in the spring enrollment season, using the typically smaller applicant pool to pilot the new assessment before bringing it to the larger fall admissions cycle,” Saintvil shared. “The feedback from our staff and faculty was so positive that we launched the assessment immediately for the following fall cycle.”
Saving time in admissions
"We worked with Kira to establish our questions and competencies, record the integrated videos, and choose the visuals," shared Saintvil. "After the initial setup, we’ve been able to run the interview process with total ease.”
“The Kira assessment takes me around 5 minutes to set up for each new admissions cycle.”
“The initial investment was well worth it to get the efficiencies and the conversion rates where we want them." she continued. "Kira’s built-in rubrics and in-platform analytics, as well as the custom integration Kira built for our existing admissions process in PeopleSoft, have helped us reduce the workload for our admissions team and significantly increase the efficiency of our overall process.”
When an applicant is reviewed in Kira, their scores are imported directly into their applicant record within the school's applicant management system.
“The platforms communicate perfectly without us having to manipulate anything,” she explained. “We don’t have to go into Kira every single day to copy over scores or to check on applicant or reviewer progress. As soon as it’s done, within hours, it’s in our system and we know that the applicant is ready for the final step, which is the admissions decision.”
“The integration has been a significant time-saver for my department,” Saintvil shared. “We’re a fairly small team and we would rather focus our efforts on engaging and nurturing our applicants as they move through the admissions process.”
"Kira has taken the administrative work of interviewing entirely off of our plate," she added. "That hands-on support has enabled us to seamlessly add the interview as a completely new step in our admissions process."
Supporting staff, faculty, and applicants with added ease and convenience
“Business programs are often challenged to find time for faculty to sit and conduct an interview,” Saintvil explained. “Our faculty are high-powered working professionals, that’s part of the attraction of our MBA program – students want to learn from someone who’s successful in the industry. However, that also means that their availability is very limited.”
“Our staff and faculty loved the new process with Kira.”
“The feedback we got from our reviewers was overwhelmingly positive,” Saintvil continued. “They were able to get everything they needed in a short time period. They could discern applicants’ values and abilities, understand what their goals were for the program and beyond, and see how they would fit into the campus and classroom culture at Pepperdine.”
“Kira has helped improve the applicant experience as well,” added Saintvil. Achieving an average applicant feedback rating of 4.8 of 5 stars, the Pepperdine Graziadio Business School was thrilled to see that their applicants were as impressed with the experience as they were.
“The interview is usually the last step in the admissions process. At that point, you’ve put so much effort into nurturing these top candidates only to then sit idle waiting for calendars to align between your busy faculty and the applicant, who is also a working professional.”
“Kira completely eliminates that source of frustration,” explained Saintvil. “There’s no emailing back and forth to try and coordinate an interview. As soon as applicants hit that stage, the assessment is available to them and once they complete it it's in our system for review within hours.”
“The entire Kira experience feels very seamless and professional, so the applicants walk away with a very positive impression of our institution.”
Creating effective, competency-based evaluations
“Beyond the time-savings, the biggest benefit of working with Kira has been leveraging their expertise in building out effective questions and rubrics,” shared Saintvil.
With the help of Kira Talent, the Pepperdine Graziadio Business School has been able to strengthen its efforts in identifying full-time MBA applicants who exhibit the skills and attributes to be successful in both the program and their post-MBA endeavours.
“We involved both our faculty and our career services team in the onboarding exercise with Kira," explained Saintvil. "Our faculty know what makes a student successful in our program, but the input from our career services team broadened the scope. They prompted us to look at why an applicant is seeking an MBA, what they’re ultimately looking to achieve in their career, and how they think the Pepperdine Graziadio Business School will help them get there. Kira then helped us ask those questions in a way that elicits a candid and insightful response.”
To give an added level of security and peace of mind, the Pepperdine Graziadio Business School full-time MBA program uses Kira’s question randomization functionality to reduce the likelihood of applicants sharing information. Creating multiple questions that all speak to the same competency, applicants receive a randomly selected question from the bank during the assessment, ensuring the security of the interviews as well as consistency across the applicant pool.
“That has been a real game changer for us,” she continued. “It really helps the faculty when they’re rendering that final admissions decision. They know that they’re not just getting rehearsed answers to our questions, they’re getting authentic responses from which they can gather the information needed to determine whether or not an applicant is a good fit for our program.”
“The insights we get from the Kira assessment go above and beyond the academic metrics, test scores, and aptitude exams.”