Interview related activities

MBA Application Resource Roundup

For prospective business school students, we’ve created a short list of resources, including Apply Point blogs and information from external organizations, that will help guide you through the application process.

Apply Point Blog Posts

·       Deciding where to apply

o   MBA School Selection: Important Considerations When Building Your School List

o   MBA School Selection: What are the Alumni Saying?

o   Want a Career Abroad? Consider a European MBA.

·       Application

o   MBA Application Submission: Is There an Optimal Deadline?

o   The GMAT V. The GRE: Which Test is Best for You?

o   MBA Application Essays: Prompts Designed to Get Beyond Applicants’ Professional Experiences to Gauge Creativity and Assess Values

o   IQ is Important, but Don’t Forget About EQ

o    Using Recommendations to Strategically Enhance Your MBA Application

·       Interview preparation and tips

o   Top Ten Tips for the MBA Behavioral Interview

o   The Wharton Interview: Excel in the Team Based Discussion

o   MBA Interviews: When the Interview Requires More than an Interview

·       Use Social Media to Enhance Your Graduate School Application  

·       Unemployed and Considering Graduate School? Ensure This Time is Meaningful and Productive

·       Unconventional Applicants to MBA Programs Must Consider Abilities in Innovation, Leadership, and Teamwork

Online resources and social networks for prospective and current MBA students

·       Poets and Quants

·       Beat the GMAT

Organizations and Resources

·       The MBA Tour is an independent and high-quality information source regarding MBA admissions. Events emphasize personal interaction between prospective MBA students, business school admissions representatives, alumni, and other like-minded education enthusiasts.

·       The Consortium for Graduate Study in Management is a continually growing and evolving alliance of some of the world’s leading graduate business schools and business organizations, supported by the strength of an extended network of students and alumni.

·       The National Black MBA Association is the premier business organization serving black professionals.  

·       Prospanica, formerly the National Society of Hispanic MBAs (NSHMBA), emphasizes educational and professional development programs to improve the Hispanic community as a whole.

·       The Forte Foundation is a non-profit consortium of leading companies and top business schools working together to launch women into fulfilling, significant careers through access to business education, opportunities, and a community of successful women.

MBA Interviews: When the Interview Requires More than an Interview

To get to know applicants better, some MBA programs will ask interview participants to submit additional materials or participate in supplementary activities. We have profiled a few of these exercises below to provide you with additional insight. 

1.       Harvard Business School, Post-Interview Reflections

Description: Within 24 hours of the interview, candidates are required to submit a written reflection through Harvard Business School’s online application system. The submission is not a formal essay. Rather, it should be written similarly to a post-meeting summary one would write to a colleague or supervisor at work.  

Rationale:  Shortly after instituting the Post-Interview Reflection, Harvard’s Admission Blog described the exercise as a chance to both get students’ opinions regarding their interviews, as well as a real-world practicum. Professionals routinely need to send emails summarizing meetings and offering assessments and their ability to do this well is critical for workplace success.

Your Strategy: Be genuine and think critically about the interview. What were the highlights? What could have gone better? Were there remaining “gaps” after your interview, and if so, how do you wish you could have addressed these? The post-interview reflection is an opportunity for you to demonstrate real-world critical thinking and writing skills, as well as offer any information that you feel you did not adequately explain in the interview. In other words, Harvard is not expecting your most polished product, but rather a thoughtful assessment of your interview coupled with a compelling communication. As such, this piece should not be crafted prior to the interview, adapted from another essay, or used as additional resume space. However, you may want to take some time immediately after your interview to make notes on areas that you’ll want to include in your submission. Then give yourself a bit of reflection time prior to producing your final product. You’ll want to make the most of this final opportunity to show the admissions committee who you are and how you think.

2.       MIT Sloan, Pre-Interview Essay Submission

Description: Those invited to interview at Sloan will be asked to answer the following question: The mission of the MIT Sloan School of Management is to develop principled, innovative leaders who improve the world and to generate ideas that advance management practice. We believe that a commitment to diversity, inclusion, equity, and well-being is a key component of both principled leadership and sound management practice. In 250 words or less, please describe how you, as a member of the MIT Sloan community, would work to create a campus that is welcoming, inclusive and increasingly diverse. 

Rationale: The interview process is about getting to know applicants more thoroughly. This is a chance to not only demonstrate that your values match those of MIT Sloan, but that you are willing to proactively work to put those values into action during your business school tenure.

Your Strategy: Your response to this question should go beyond what clubs and extracurricular activities you will participate in at Sloan. Rather, it should examine how you will demonstrate leadership in creating a diverse environment and promoting wellbeing among your peers. Using examples from your past leadership experiences, demonstrate your ability to cultivate a positive culture. And be sure to clearly link the perspective you gained from these experiences to what you hope to accomplish at Sloan. 

3.       Northwestern Kellogg, Video Essay

Description: In responding to several short video essay questions, Kellogg’s video essay allows you to further demonstrate what you will bring to the community in an interactive way.

Rationale: Kellogg states that the video essay questions are “designed to bring to life the person we have learned about on paper.” Student culture is a key focus in Kellogg’s admissions efforts, and they want to get to know applicants as fully as possible to ensure they construct a close-knit and collaborative class. As such, this is an opportunity to showcase your personality, values, interests, and goals rather than worrying too much about the “correct” or expected response. 

Your Strategy: While the video essay may feel uncomfortable at first, it is an excellent opportunity to allow the admissions committee to know you better. Kellogg provides practice questions that will help you to get comfortable with the format and the technology, and we recommend taking advantage of this. Prior to the video essay, review your submitted application and think through your personal goals and interests and how those align with Kellogg. While you do not want to look scripted in your responses, you do want to be prepared, which will help you to relax and show your personality.

4.       University of Michigan Ross, Team Experience 2.0

Description: Those invited to interview at Ross will also be invited to participate in the Team Experience 2.0. In this exercise, teams are tasked with developing a business challenge and solution using random words. Then, they are required to present the case to an evaluator, who will ask each group a follow-up question based on the solution they present.

Rationale: The Ross Admissions Committee says that the goal of the exercise is to assess how an applicant can contribute to and problem-solve as a team-member in real-time. This exercise will mimic the format of most business school group work and will demonstrate to the admissions committee your ability to lead, collaborate, and contribute to a group’s shared goal.  

Your Strategy: As you take part in the Team Experience 2.0, you will want to consistently show your leadership and collaboration abilities. This includes ensuring that all members of the team are participating, celebrating and enhancing good ideas, kindly but productively questioning your teammates, and ultimately encouraging the group towards a decision. Similar to the Wharton Team Based Discussion, you will succeed to the extent that your team succeeds. As such, do not become overly competitive or domineering in the discourse. Instead, look for the ways in which you can help your team to determine the best solution.

…And One More Thing, Don’t Forget to Schedule your Interview in the Morning

The behavioral interview is not without its faults.  In a brief span of approximately 45 minutes, interviewers form stereotypes concerning the characteristics required for success in the academic program or job, they tend to give negative information more weight and they make key decisions within the first few minutes, using the remainder of the interview to validate their original decision.

Despite the faults of this popular evaluative tool, most graduate business programs and medical schools require interviews for anyone they admit.  And they are becoming increasingly important.  Admissions directors agree that while an applicant can look perfect on paper, if they can’t perform well in an interview, chances are they will have a hard time securing a job post MBA or connecting with patients and attending physicians in residency.  They may also have a hard time fitting in as a student in a particular program.  Once an applicant secures an interview, many admissions directors agree, it is the most important piece of the puzzle. 

When preparing clients for their interviews, there are long lists of tips we discuss.  I advise them to create their own agenda, as there will certainly be differentiating points the interviewer won’t ask about; I encourage them to ask strong questions at the end of the interview, which not only show an in-depth knowledge of the program, but also a genuine curiosity; and I review with them specific past examples they could use to demonstrate their leadership potential or demonstrated commitment to a career in medicine.  As a former admissions director, conducting interviews was one of my favorite parts of the job.  And until recently, I haven’t given much thought to my own biases that existed or how they could have negatively affected applicants.  I like to think that I gave everyone a fair shot, but some recent research inspired me to apply a bit more scrutiny to the whole process of interviewing and the applicant evaluations that result.   

In “Daily Horizons: Evidence of Narrow Bracketing in Judgment From 10 Years of MBA Admissions Interviews,” recently published in Psychological Science, Wharton Management professor Uri Simonsohn and Harvard professor Francesca Gino used MBA admissions data (not from Wharton or Harvard) to study how applicant scores were affected if they interviewed at the end of the day, after a series of strong or weak candidates.  They found that a similarly qualified applicant who interviewed after a string of strong candidates got lower scores than what they would have received otherwise.  And, those who interviewed after a group of weaker candidates got better evaluations. 

“An interviewer who expects to evaluate positively about 50 percent of the applicants on any given day may be reluctant to evaluate positively many more or fewer than 50 percent of applicants on any given day.  An applicant who happens to interview on a day when several others have already received a positive evaluation would, therefore, be at a disadvantage,” Simonsohn and Gino wrote.

While Universities may be able to control this effect by having interviewers enter each applicant’s score into a spreadsheet that would help them monitor the results of interviews over time and keep focus on today’s crop of candidates, it is important for applicants to understand that their competition is likely to come from two pools: everyone and the other applicants who are interviewed that day.

I often wonder if I was guilty of this narrow bracketing phenomenon in my previous role.  Today, as a consultant, all I can do is arm my clients with the sound advice I know is tried and true.  From now on, I just might add one more tidbit: Schedule your interview in the morning.