by Merissa Blitz and Sam Parker
It requires more skill than walking backwards, projecting loudly and smiling to seas of unfamiliar faces. Elon University tour guides not only lead prospective students and their families around campus, but they also assist in selecting their colleagues.
In February, Elon’s Office of Admissions received about 400 applications from students seeking tour guide positions, according to Amy Woods, coordinator of campus visits. In order to quickly select the best candidates from that applicant pool, Woods said current guides are working with admissions staff to conduct group interviews and hold committee discussions during the next two weeks.
“Our tour guides that we currently have in the office will play a big role in the selection and hiring process this year,” she said. “We’re really trying to incorporate the guides, so that they can take ownership of the tour guide program.”
On March 1, admissions staff members met to taper the list of potential employees; of the 400 total applications, they selected about 160 for interviews, Woods said. Both students and staff are now holding interview sessions and committee review meetings to finalize decisions.
“We want students to have these experiences since a large part of our tours center on discussing your Elon experiences,” Woods said.
During group interviews, guides are to assess the availability of candidates by asking questions like if they are available for summer help, if they are going abroad in the fall or if they are seeking internships in the spring. Woods said the admissions office is losing 37 seniors this May, so the staff is seeking candidates who are able to devote sufficient time and energy to training and to the position to replace those employees.
Admissions is hiring for regular tour guides, multicultural ambassadors and guide event staff, Woods said. Multicultural ambassadors work with Elon’s multicultural sector to recruit diverse students while guide event staff helps counselors plan events, like Fellows Weekend, and gives tours during those events.
Junior Will Anderson applied to be a member of guide event staff. After learning he made it to the interview process, Anderson said he was excited to hear fellow students were on the selection committee.
“I think it’s going to be exciting because I don’t think a lot of us know what to expect since it won’t be a traditional interview,” he said. “I know a lot of tour guides, though, so I hope that will only help my chances of earning a spot.”
In addition to interviewing and hiring these new guides, senior guide Andrew Glass said veteran tour guides will be responsible for training them as well.
“When new guides are hired we are responsible for training them in order to ensure Elon continues to have a high-quality campus-visit experience,” he said.
Although the amount of applications admissions received seems daunting, Glass thinks it will lead to higher quality guides.
“Having so many applicants makes it an extremely competitive process which allows the admissions staff to pick the best people for the job,” he said. “In the long run, that will be fantastic for Elon because the more competition we get, the higher quality the tour guides, which in theory, would allow us to attract higher quality students.”