Graduate Management News

October 2015

The Newsletter of the Graduate Management Admission Council

Using Video in Specialized Master’s Program Admissions: A Case Study from Washington University’s Olin Business School

Specialized Masters Programs (SMPs) create complex admissions challenges due to the shorter program duration and necessity to assess applicants for a wide range of programs. Using video in the interview process can help you make a more informed admissions decision.

Using Video in Admissions

Part II of a series on the benefits of incorporating video in the admissions process.

With increasing competition across graduate programs, it’s important for institutions not only to make decisions quickly, but also to make decisions on applicants that are the right fit for your program. At Olin, we’ve integrated our existing CRM and application tools with a cutting-edge video interview solution to give us deeper insight into our candidates before we make an admissions decision.



Olin has been recruiting students for our two- and three-semester SMPs since 2007 with increasing application volume each year. For the 2015 incoming class we received almost 2,500 applications and enrolled 195 students. Most of our students come directly from their undergraduate studies and are seeking to gain specialized knowledge to differentiate themselves in the marketplace. We attract applicants with a wide range of majors, including engineering, mathematics, statistics, economics, marketing, computer science, psychology, life sciences, and even philosophy. Business majors who want an academic “deep dive” in a specific area also apply to our programs.

From the inception of our SMPs, we have admitted strong students by leveraging our large applicant pool populated with extraordinarily talented applicants. Although the caliber of candidates continues to increase each year, we knew from feedback and first-hand experience that international students with the strongest communication skills benefited the most from their experience at Olin. This knowledge motivated us to seek out video interview options in order to take the application screening process to the next level.

We are in our fourth year of incorporating video interviews as part of the SMP screening process at Olin. All international students who have not studied at an English-speaking academic institution for at least three years must submit a video as part of the application process.

Our programs currently include:

  • Master of Accounting
  • MS in Supply Chain Management
  • MS in Customer Analytics
  • MS in Finance-Corporate Finance & Investments Track
  • MS in Finance-Quantitative Track
  • Global Master of Finance
  • STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) designated


In the past, one of the biggest challenges we faced using video was the issue of the firewall in China, which resulted in us receiving rehearsed responses. Most of our applicants are from China and, with an hour to prepare, applicants were able to practice their responses before submitting the video. Questions were also shared with the wider applicant population through a Chinese social media network called Chase Dream, resulting in even more tailored responses from our applicants.

Another challenge was not having the video embedded in the application and having to view videos through a separate website.

Value Proposition

Our recent partnership with Kira Talent and its online video screening platform has enabled us to address the challenges described above. Through consultation with Kira Talent’s team, we were able to make the following changes to our process:

  • Kira Talent has partnered with education solutions provider Hobsons to integrate the video into the online application, resulting in a more streamlined review process.
  • In collaboration with Kira Talent, we have developed competency-based questions for each of our programs. This allows us to obtain deeper insight into a candidate’s background and overall fit for our programs.
  • Kira Talent’s innovative approach includes the use of videotaped questions, giving us the opportunity to introduce candidates to Olin staff and faculty and making the admissions process in general more engaging for applicants.
  • Finally, Kira Talent has been able to overcome the firewall issues allowing us to view live responses from our applicants.

By integrating our existing CRM and application tools with Kira Talent’s video interview solution, we can now look forward to our team being equipped to identify and ultimately enroll our strongest candidates to Olin’s SMPs.

About the Author

Nikki LemleyNikki Lemley is associate director, Specialized Masters Programs Admissions, at Washington University’s Olin School of Business..