The University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) College of Allied Health Professions (CAHP) sought out Kira Talent for help with a unique need. Representing 12 programs, more than 15 health professions, and over 30 different academic tracks, the CAHP was looking for a way to establish a consistent admissions process across all programs, while still enabling each team to assess applicants in a way that works best for them.
“We took the challenge to the Kira team, thinking it may be too complex,” shared Kevin Howard, Enrollment Management & Student Affairs at UNMC. “However, our ideas were always met with enthusiasm!”
Together, the College and Kira built a cohesive offering that brought together a variety of options customized to each of the program’s unique focuses, while maintaining consistency across disciplines.
The flexibility to assess your way
“We created this “Kira menu” that programs could choose from,” described Maggie Winnicki, Director of Enrollment Management & Student Affairs at UNMC. “Each program would take it, discuss it, make their selections, and then come back to us to help build their unique assessment.“
The first step was for the programs to decide how they wanted to leverage Kira in their admissions cycle. Did they want to interview exclusively with Kira, or did they want to use it to complement their live interviews? Did they want to use the Kira assessment as the first step in the interview process or as the final round interview?
From there, each program chose which competencies they wanted to assess and what style of questions they wanted to use. Pulling from a bank of questions created by the CAHP Admissions Committee, programs were able to replicate and replace their traditional MMIs or add new depth to their process. There were behavioural questions, open-ended questions, and scenario-based problems. Questions could be fixed, giving each applicant the exact same experience, or they could be randomized, giving each applicant a unique combination of similar questions. Each question was evaluated using a standardized rubric, ensuring that the questions were being evaluated consistently across disciplines.
And if a program wanted something that wasn’t in the question bank? They also had the option of choosing their own questions and building a custom rubric.
Finally, each program chose how they wanted to score applicants. With Kira’s Flexible Review, they had the option of reviewing horizontally, focused on one competency across applicants, or vertically, focused on all competencies across one applicant.
With so many different variations to keep track of, the team was almost expecting some kind of mishap. But across all of the school’s programs and each unique assessment, CAHP saw success.
“We’ve had buy-in from all of our programs,” shared Winnicki. “They can still make decisions about how they’re running their admissions, what attributes they’re looking for in applicants, and what questions they want to ask. But Kira has allowed us to have that variation while maintaining structure and consistency across the programs.”
Creating a warm connection
“When we first spoke to our programs about Kira, some of them just wanted to stick with their current set-up in Zoom’,” recalled Winnicki. “But once they saw Kira in action and saw how it could enhance their process, they were sold on it.”
Kira’s asynchronous assessments provide UNMC with the opportunity to evaluate applicants through unscripted, unrehearsed video and written responses. And because Kira assessments are available on-demand, UNMC’s reviewers are able to review their assigned applicants on their own schedules.
“In past years, one program had to conduct interviews on Saturday because that’s when everyone was available,” explained Howard.
“The flexibility that Kira offers not only takes away the scheduling hassle, but it also makes sure that reviewers don’t feel burned out.”
“Kira has given us time back in our days by doing all this work for us, and doing it in a way that’s engaging and personal.”
“That was important to us," continued Winnicki. "It’s something that we’ve prided ourselves on in our interview process in the past: being able to connect with and engage applicants, and Kira allowed us to continue doing that.”
Building a personal connection - virtually
When the CAHP Admissions Committee first told the program admissions teams that they were moving the interview process online, there were concerns that without the ability to talk to applicants face-to-face they wouldn’t be able to engage them, and the experience would feel impersonal.
“But when we took them through the Kira experience for the first time, with the videos we had filmed here on campus, people were visibly moved,” shared Winnicki. “The videos created a sense of us inviting people to join our family and the faculty and staff realized that it actually felt very personal.”
Accessible application yields higher enrollment
Since implementing Kira assessments, UNMC has noticed an increase in applicant interview attendance. With on-campus interviews, there are always a few no-shows. Whether it’s because someone’s car broke down, they weren’t feeling well, or, out of all the interviews they’d been invited to, this simply wasn’t one they could commit to. The accessibility that Kira provides has mitigated this challenge.
“We’re not losing applicants through the interview process because it’s more accessible to them,” explained Winnicki. “For many applicants, we're their first choice, but for others, we may not have been their top pick. Through the assessment, we engage them and surprise them. We become a school that they’re excited about.” And applicants are remaining excited about UNMC.
Programs that have sent out enrollment offers are seeing a higher applicant yield.
“More of the students who we’ve offered spots to are accepting those spots and staying.”
“We strive to be the applicant’s top choice, and the admissions teams have their top choices of who they feel would be the best fit for the program,” added Howard. “So when we see less movement in enrollment offers that indicates that we’re doing a better job finding the best-fit on both sides.”
“Kira has helped us capture applicants’ interest and have an opportunity to really showcase what a great school we are,” continued Winnicki. “Being able to use a single tool and use it very differently yet in a standardized, consistent way and see this kind of success...I couldn’t be happier with it.”