How To Do An MBA Admissions Interview
Maria |
November 19, 2022

This week, let’s talk about chances and possibilities. What do interviewers look for in an applicant for them to be invited for an interview? What does it mean when you are invited for an interview? What are the chances that you will be invited for an interview and still be rejected? And how, as much as possible, can you prevent this from happening?

In this episode of Business Casual, our hosts John, Maria, and Caroline will talk about some of the reasons why you might think you did well on the MBA admissions interview and then get rejected, or why you might think you bombed it and blew the opportunity and then get accepted. How confusing can an MBA admission get?

Episode Transcript

[00:00:07.440] – John

Well, hello, everyone. It’s John Byrne with Poets and Quants. Welcome to Business Casual, our weekly podcast with my cohost Maria Wich Vila and Caroline Diarte Edwards. Caroline, of course, is the cofounder of Fortuna Admissions, a leading MBA admissions firm, and the former Director of Admissions at INSEAD. Maria is the founder of Applicant Lab, which helps applicants through a lot of videos and self paced exercises to get their application done at a very reasonable price. So we want to talk about interviews. We’re hearing from people who get the interview, think they’ve done well, and then ultimately get rejected. And I wonder how that disconnect can occur, because it occurs quite frequently where someone walks out of an interview and they think they’ve done amazingly well, and then they get turned down, or conversely, they think they bombed it, they blew the whole opportunity, and then they get accepted. How come you can’t tell when you walk out of that interview whether or not you’re going to get accepted? Caroline.

[00:01:15.930] – Caroline

Well, the interview is one component in the evaluation. So when the admissions committee invites a candidate to interview, of course they think that that candidate looks very strong and looks like they could be potentially a great addition to the program. But then post interview, the admissions committee will review the entire profile again in the light of the feedback from the interview. And they’ll also be comparing them to other candidates in the pool, especially those with similar profiles and how they stack up and how they compare across the board, right. Not just at the interview stage. So it is possible that an interview can go very well and a candidate gets rejected, especially at the most competitive schools. There is an element of luck that comes into it, especially if you’re applying to the M7 schools where there are so many people applying. And especially if you have a profile that is perhaps overrepresented in the applicant pool, even with everything in your favor, a strong profile and a good interview, it might still not be enough to get you in. You’re not being evaluated in isolation, right? It’s not just about how good you are as a candidate.

[00:02:31.230] – Caroline

It’s about how you compare to other people who are applying and they’re taking best people out of that pool. So a lot of the decision relates to look at evaluating that pool overall and selecting the best from that. And it’s often the case that candidates think and mistakenly think that if they’ve got to the interview stage, then at that point it’s only about the interview, right? And they think, if I do well in the interview that I’m in. And that’s not true. I’ve often had to explain that to candidates. I’ve had to explain that to alumni interviewers when I was working at Inc. Yet, because sometimes the interviewers say, if I’ve given this person my thumbs up, then they have to get in now, and they think that they are the final gatekeeper. And if they like that candidate, then they should automatically get a place in the school. And it’s not the case.

[00:03:28.170] – Maria


[00:03:28.650] – Caroline

The interview is still one component of the picture overall in a very competitive process. So it’s tricky, right, because it’s not cut and dried, it’s not black and white, and there are so many different elements to the process.

[00:03:42.300] – John

I guess it’s especially disappointing because you think if you make it to the interview stage, man, you’ve got something going for yourself, right?

[00:03:50.360] – Caroline

Yes, that’s right. And you have, right? I mean, the school is not going to work. The vast majority of schools only interview candidates where they see that they have genuine potential to be great additions to the program. Most schools have limited capacity for interviewing and so it is a very positive sign. And candidates should certainly be encouraged if they get to that stage right. Their chances of getting in have definitely gone up substantially if they get to the interview stage. I would say it’s unusual that candidates get interviews at multiple schools and then still don’t get any offers. I don’t see that very often. And I think if that happens, then probably there’s something going wrong at the interview stage.

[00:04:37.390] – John

Right. Maria, what’s your take on this.

[00:04:39.430] – Maria

Yeah, I agree with everything Caroline said. First of all, if you’re getting interview invites, then that’s a sign that something is going right. I think that there’s a because the statistic is that there is a 50 50 chance. Statistically speaking, it’s a 50 50 chance, but that doesn’t mean that your chances are necessarily 50 50 once you get to the interview stage right. Like, there could be people who are pretty much going to get in no matter what because their profiles are so strong. Unless they confess to murdering puppy, it’s going to be horrible and interview, they’re getting in either way. And then there are people who are sort of borderline candidates who are invited to interview because like, well, this person might be interesting. Let’s see what they have to say. So it’s 50 50 overall, but it might not be 50 50 for each person. And by the way, it’s 50 50. But that means that half of people who get the interview are not getting in. It’s not like it’s 80 20. If it were something like 90% of people who get interviewed get let in and 10% don’t, then you’d say, oh man, that is a bummer.

[00:05:40.150] – Maria

That is weird that you get multiple interview invites. But if it’s 50 50, then you have half of a chance. There’s a 1 – 2 chance that you’re not getting it. And so I think that, you know, and I also agree with Caroline, sometimes I get people reaching out and saying, what went wrong? What went wrong in my interview? Maybe nothing went wrong. Maybe it’s just that somebody else was slightly better. Maybe somebody else in your bucket, your competitive bucket, whatever that bucket is finance tech consulting. There was somebody else who was just slightly better than you. So it’s not that you did anything, quote unquote, wrong. It’s just that these schools are interviewing especially in the overrepresented buckets, they’re interviewing sometimes hundreds and hundreds of people with very, very, very similar backgrounds. And if one person is leading a team of two people, and one person is leading a team of ten people, it sometimes just might come down to like, okay, we can only take one person from this bucket. This one person is a little bit more impressive, or this one person made a little bit more effort to get to know the school, or this one person, you know, has a career plan that matches what our resources are focused on, whatever.

[00:06:46.900] – Maria

And so anyway, it’s not necessarily if something went wrong and if you’re getting the interview invites to begin with, then that’s certainly a sign that your profile and application are strong to begin with.

[00:06:57.560] – John

And there can be bad interviews, right? I mean, I know some applicants talk about showing up. The interviewer shows up late, they seem completely uninterested in what the applicant is saying. They cut the interview off, the interviewee off. What do you make of just getting the bad straw and having an awful interviewer?

[00:07:23.320] – Caroline

Well, hopefully that doesn’t happen too often. But you’re right, it can happen. Interviewers can have bad days, just as candidates can have bad days. But schools try to keep the process as consistent as possible. Unfortunately, given the volume of interviews they’re handling, sometimes it’s not always the case. I don’t see that’s why the school has two interviews, because the school has many thousands of alumni interviewers. And if, for whatever reason, one of the interviews doesn’t go particularly well, because maybe the interview was having a bad day, and maybe if it just was bad chemistry for whatever reason, then it gives the candidate another shot. So that can be useful. If there are two interviews, it gives the candidate a second chance, right, if you’ve got that option. But otherwise, that’s why candidates should apply to more than one school, right? Because things can go wrong in the process that are out of your control. So don’t put all of your eggs in one basket and don’t set your heart completely on one possible outcome from this process.

[00:08:38.970] – John

Maria, what are the typical mistakes that people make in an admissions interview?

[00:08:44.510] – Maria

There are many, many. I think some of the most common ones would be, first of all, not explaining very clearly why you are a good fit with the program. The other one that I see a lot is not really explaining your story well, where I know what you as a candidate did. So maybe you were on a team that did something that was cool, and you say, well, so we were charged with finding the solution to this problem, and we got together and we had meetings and we solved the problem, which is nice, but we are not applying. If your whole team are applying to business school, I’d say, cool, let’s let you all in. But the problem is that you are applying. And so there’s often this lack of specificity. And sometimes when you probe during the interview, the bullet point on the resume might say, member of a team that did something amazing. And then you start asking questions and probing on that, and then you find out like, well, really, I was the person who was just taking the notes and doing the documentation, right? And so you start to ask questions like, how did that vice president respond when you said your product idea is terrible?

[00:09:48.730] – Maria

And they’re like, well, that really wasn’t me, that was someone else. That is something that could go wrong. One of the things that I think is kind of a little bit there’s a circular logic thing here going on here, where a big part of what the interview is meant to try to figure out is someone’s level of emotional maturity, someone’s self awareness. And sometimes people who lack self awareness, they get rejected to the interview, goes poorly because they lack self awareness, but because they lack that self awareness, they think the interview went very well. And they come out saying, like, I really nailed it, man, when I said that I’m going to be the CEO of five different companies, man, they loved me. And you’re like, well, maybe they didn’t. So I think those are the ones that sort of jump to mind.

[00:10:40.870] – John

And when you come out of an interview, no matter how you feel about it, and then you get rejected, you can’t automatically assume it was your performance during the interview that got you rejected. Right?

[00:10:52.710] – Maria

Correct. Exactly. Because as Caroline mentioned before, it could be so many other things. It could have been that maybe you were sort of borderline to begin with and they were sort of like, this person might be interesting, let’s see. Or it could have just been, again, that someone else, maybe two people, have very similar titles. And when you get to the end of very similar bullet points on the resume, but then when you get to the interview and you start asking for details, you realize that it is more apples to oranges. And one person really did take more of a leadership position, whereas the other person was more passive, or one person was better at working with other people versus the other one who was more of a solo contributor. So it could be a number of things that really have nothing to do. You could have a fantastic interview and still not get in.

[00:11:42.570] – John

Yup. Caroline, your common mistakes that you’ve seen in the years that you were head of admissions at INSEAD, because I’m sure that even though alumni did interviews them as well.

[00:11:54.430] – Caroline

Yeah, I think that sometimes it’s easier to get the story across and look strong on paper because they’ve had a lot of time to think about it and map things out. But then Maria said you need to be able to substantiate your story and go into a lot more detail at the interview stage. And sometimes candidates don’t stack up so well when someone starts to probe or deeply into the impact that they’ve had. Or it could be things like their sense of fit with the school, right, and whether they are genuinely motivated to attend that school and whether they’ve really invested time and effort in understanding what is special about that community and how they will fit into that and what they will contribute. I’ve certainly seen that. I mean, I remember once doing an interview myself with the candidates. I didn’t often interview candidates, but I did very occasionally when I was at in Seattle, it was on the Singapore campus and the candidate living and working in Singapore but has never visited the Singapore campus of in Seattle. I mean, Singapore is a small city, right? It’s not a lot to ask that.

[00:13:05.830] – Caroline

If you are applying to an MBA and planning to invest so much time and effort and money into your education, then perhaps it would be a good idea to visit it if it’s on your doorstep. And to me that was a very bad signal about how well prepared he was and how well motivated he was. So there’s lots of different things, right? And I think that candidates should prepare for the interview. Schools will ask some pretty obvious questions often, right? It’s not difficult to Google typical MBA interview questions and figure out what are the things that are likely to come up. Candidates do sometimes trip up on the obvious questions and that’s a shame. That’s just poor preparation. On the other hand, they shouldn’t be overly rehearsed either. Sometimes candidates, especially if we’re not native English speakers, are very concerned about their performance and sort of memorized responses to some questions and then they come across as somewhat mechanical and their personality may not shine through as well because they are too nervous and sort of focusing on giving a perfect performance rather than a genuine response. So I think practice really helps and getting some genuine feedback from someone who knows something about your profile and understands what the schools are looking for and how these interviews are run.

[00:14:36.820] – Caroline

Of course there are different formats for interviews as well. I mean, that’s something to be aware of and prepare for. Of course there are very different types of interviews that different schools have and so you should definitely do your research and prepare accordingly.

[00:14:52.720] – John

Yeah, all good advice. Which means that it’s helpful to have a mock interview and if you don’t have an admissions consultant of, you should at least hire one for a mock interview. I think if the stakes are really high, you really want to get into a highly selective business school. It’s not that expensive to do a mock interview with an admissions consultant, and it could yield some really important insights and help you prepare and feel like you are not scripted, that you’re very spontaneous, which is important, and it should be more or less a casual conversation, right?

[00:15:31.800] – Caroline

Yeah, that’s right. I mean, interviewing is a skill like any other, and it’s something that you can learn people can improve at. We often help candidates as well prepare for job interviews. I’ve helped people of a lot of different ages, people starting out in their careers, and people at mid career stage who are looking to make a job change, help them prepare for interviews. And if you haven’t interviewed for a while, it doesn’t matter who you are. It’s useful to have that practice. And I think sometimes candidates assume that it will be straightforward because they’re just talking about themselves, which is largely true. But as you say, you’ve got that close to getting in. It’s not necessarily a huge investment at that stage to hire someone to put you through your paces and for the sake of a few hundred dollars, it could be the difference between admission or not to a wonderful program.

[00:16:37.170] – John

Yes, absolutely. Maria, any last words here?

[00:16:40.800] – Maria

Well, first of all, Caroline the person who was living in Singapore and did not visit the Singapore campus. I have a funny version of something similar where when I used to interview for my undergraduate college admissions as an alumni interviewer, I went to a college that was in its own it was in a college town, so it was in a very suburban area. The town pretty much only existed to serve the college. It was an hour away. It was an hour away from New York, an hour away from Philadelphia, but still, it was not in the city. And so I’m doing an interview with a high school senior applying, and I’m like, Why do you want to come to the school? And she very earnestly looked at me and said, I’ve always wanted to go to a school in a really, really big city. I just love big cities. This is when I was living in Hong Kong at the time, right? So she’s like, we’re in Hong K. I mean, Hong Kong is a great big city. I want to stay in big cities, and blah, blah, blah. And I was like, okay, my school is not in the she’s going on and on, the energy that you get from being in a city.

[00:17:43.240] – Maria

And I’m like, yeah. I just think when Caroline and I, we come on this every week, all three of us are here, and we’re talking about things like the importance of fit and the importance of really doing research and the importance of really having your story ready to go. It’s not just because we enjoy giving you work and we don’t want you to have fun with your life. And the admissions officers aren’t just giving you these hoops to jump through because they’re sort of these sadistic taskmasters who want to see you sort of, whoa, jump. How high can you jump? Do these things for me, dancing, entertainment, like no, there’s a real reason that we that admissions officers ask what they ask, and there’s a real reason why we advise people to do what they do. And so, for example, something like the fit for a school in the written application, you might only get a few couple dozen words maybe, to say, what’s your career vision? Or a couple of characters to say, well, what do you want to do and where do you want to work and why the school? And then, why is your career what you want to do with your career, for example?

[00:18:52.530] – Maria

And then once you get to the interview, if you only thought about it at a shallow level for the written application, and then you get in front of someone at the interview and they start asking those probing questions, and it falls apart like, wow, it’s a shame. But it’s also like what we say right inventing. We’re not just making things like, oh, well, it might be really good to really research a school very well. Like, I have better things to do with my time. I’m not telling people to do things to waste their time. I would not waste my time telling other people to waste their time. How’s that? So authenticity really matters. And don’t exaggerate on your resume, because if you get caught in an interview, that’s embarrassing. And, yeah, do real research on the schools and career paths that you are interested in.

[00:19:41.890] – John

Caroline, what is Fortune to charge for a mock interview?

[00:19:45.940] – Caroline

Well, it depends on the format of the interview. We’ve been doing a lot of group interviews recently for Walton, so let me tell you. So the group interview prep is 790, and then that you would get the group session and then a debrief with one of the watering specialists, and they will debrief you on how things went. And then HBS is a bit more it’s 1185 because it’s a very different format. And so we do some extra preparation for that. And then there’s discussion about the reflection piece and so on. So it depends on the format type.

[00:20:31.620] – John

Right. And Maria, what does Applicant Lab charge for a mock interview?

[00:20:35.620] – Maria

Well, just for starters, applicant Lab does have an entire I do sell access to just the interview module only, which covers, I don’t know, something like 2025 Common Questions. I have indepth advice for, especially the Harvard and the Wharton interviews in particular, because they are so unique. I also have advice in there for the two additional essays you have to write for the MIT. If you get invited to interview for MIT Sloan, it’s not technically part of the interview, but you have to submit two additional essays to them prior to the interview. And so I have advice for that in there. And also, Booth usually also has an extra facet to, you know, once you’re invited to why? I think you have to make a video or something. So I’ve got advice for all of that and that is less than $100. And it’s tons of videos of me giving examples of good answers and bad answers and what makes a good answer or what makes a bad answer. And on top of that, if you would like to purchase a mock interview, again, as Caroline and I think everyone who’s done this for a while quickly realizes that some interviews are a lot more work than others.

[00:21:35.350] – Maria

So sort of a standard MBA interview with one of my applicant lab alumni who are people who use the lab, went through it, graduated from business school and now are doing this part time time. That’s $400. And then my HBS interview is $750. But I do spend at least 1 hour preparing for every HBS interview. And I spend that full hour preparing. I will research your company and the stock picker and why is your stock price down 25%? And you said you want to work for Google, but Google doesn’t do this and so why would you go work there? No, seriously. And you said that you were part of this thing, but when I looked at your LinkedIn, I didn’t see anything about that. But then again, to be clear, for my HDS interview, I give people the hardest version of the interview hoping that it will not be that bad. But just to be clear, so you.

[00:22:18.960] – John

Put people in the doctor trying to bright light in their eyes and then grill, grill, grill.

[00:22:25.240] – Maria

I try to make it the hardest version I can think of because I figure if it’s easier, then hopefully that’s a big relief. But I’d rather do it that way than do it the other way around and be like super friendly and like, that makes sense and not push back. And then if they do get someone who’s more of a skeptic, I’d rather over prepare than under prepare.

[00:22:48.640] – John

What about crazy questions? Obviously the basic questions are why did you go to this school? Bring me through your resume. What’s the culture like at your company? What do you do and what impact have you had? But there are at times interviewers who ask really strange questions. And what I’m thinking of is when The Harvest publishes its guide of questions that students actually give to The Harvest, there are some like, you know, if you were an animal, what kind of animal would you be? What kind of question is that? I mean, there’s some wacky questions. There really are, right? Why does that happen?

[00:23:39.490] – Maria

Well, it’s because admissions officers aren’t stupid and they know that people are preparing for these interviews and they know that there are postings everywhere and there are books being sold and there are people are doing question banks. And so if I can think of a question that’s not in a question bank, then that’s not already online. Right? Because if the point of the interview one of the big points of the interview for HBS in particular is will this person be able to handle the lightning fast changing of topics that might happen in the case discussion classroom? Do they get thrown off if they come in with an idea of like, this is what I am going to say and today’s contribution to class is going to be X. And then if a class discussion quickly veers in a completely different direction, will you be able to catch up or will you be like, oh no, the thing I thought about for hours, I’m not going to you know, are you going to flounder in that kind of a situation or can you think quickly on your feet? And so, in a way, all of these resources, the more resources that get provided, the bigger the higher the bar is or the bigger the challenge is for me to try to think of something that you would not have thought of to see.

[00:24:44.790] – Maria

Because if it’s point is, I want to see how quickly you think on your feet when a conversation goes in a direction you don’t want it to go in or you did not expect it to go in. Right. If I push back, let’s say, on your career vision, and I really push and I’m like, that doesn’t make any sense. Why would you say that? Do you get defensive? Do you get angry if I throw something totally random at you? Do you just like, go, I have circular references on the brain. It becomes like this kind of this cycle in a way of like the more information gets out there, the more random I have to get with a random question in order for it to truly be random and so on and so forth. It’s the circle of life, et cetera, et cetera.

[00:25:31.540] – John

Yeah, it’s to take you off script is what you’re saying.

[00:25:35.640] – Maria

Yeah, ideally there shouldn’t be a script.

[00:25:37.180] – John

To begin with, but that’s right, exactly. Caroline, what’s the wackiest question INSEAD asks of applicants?

[00:25:45.560] – Caroline

Well, I mean, the interviews aren’t supposed to have super wacky questions, but as you say, sometimes funny things get thrown in. It’s important for candidates to keep in mind that although preparation is very important and as we’ve said, it’s important to prepare, you will not anticipate every question that they’re going to ask you. You’re going to get a question that you will have not thought about it’s coming out of left field. So that’s also an important part of your preparation is to think about how you’re going to respond and just be ready to think on your feet. As Maria says, that is an important skill to have. And also it’s important to think about how you’re going to respond. If you do flunk a response to a question, that can happen. And sometimes in interviews, you might get a question and you have a blank, it’s okay to take some time to reply, right? That’s also important to keep in mind is that it’s all right to pause for a moment and gather your thoughts before responding. You don’t have to fill every single second with noise. And it’s also important to manage your nerve so that if you do mess up a question, it doesn’t then spiral out of control, because that does sometimes happen with candidates where they lose their confidence.

[00:27:09.790] – Caroline

They feel that they’ve messed up a response, and then everything falls to pieces. And so you don’t want to be that candidate. You want to be the candidate who can stay composed. And if you don’t give your best response, you move on and you stay calm and regain your confidence. So that’s important to anticipate, because you will likely get a question that will throw you.

[00:27:36.400] – Maria

And this is why I think it’s important. This is why I advocate that people, instead of trying again, like, oh, there’s 300 questions I might get, so let me think of answers for all 300 questions I think it’s important to have. I call them like, Swiss Army knife stories. Like, in other words, stories of things that you’ve done that depending on which variation or which flavor of question you get. If it’s a teamwork question, 80% of the story is the same, but maybe you focus on the teamwork component, or if it’s an innovation question, 80% of the story is the same, but then you focus more on what was new and exciting about it. And so if you go in with thinking about it, like, okay, I got my Swiss Army knife questions, my greatest hits, and I’ve thought about them in these different ways. That way, you’re prepared for whatever variation of question you get. You know, it’s funny, sometimes people relate to Caroline’s point. Sometimes people freak out if they’re like, instead of saying, Walk me through your resume, they said, Tell me about yourself. And it really threw me off. And I’m like, it’s the same question.

[00:28:35.360] – Maria

Oh, my gosh. Right? Sometimes, you know, and the other thing I think about to build on what she was saying about not if you do say something wrong or if you don’t know an answer right away, it’s fine to say, that’s really good. Can I have a second to think about that? Yeah, thanks. Take a second. These are real people. This is not a military tribunal in North Korea. These are real people on the other side who you know, it’s perfectly fine if you’re in real life to say, wow, I don’t know the answer to that.

[00:29:06.990] – Caroline

Let me think.

[00:29:07.480] – Maria

I need a second to think about that. Or you know what? I’m sorry. I was just saying something, and I realized that I can I just. Let me start over. It’s okay. Do that because you would do that in a regular conversation at work if you’re talking to your boss. If you start presenting something to your boss and you’re like, oh, my gosh, you know what, actually, this number oh, you know what? I just thought of something else. If that’s what you would do with your boss or with a coworker, it’s perfectly fine for you to do it in an interview as well. And it’s certainly better than doubling down on the bad answer or spiraling out of control and beating yourself up so much that then you just become this kind of blob, quivering blob of sadness and angst squashy hands. That’s right.

[00:29:53.810] – John

I do like the idea of thinking about answers as if it’s a Swiss Army knife, meaning you can then apply or torque your answer to whatever the question is, and incidentally, get your point across. This is what really smart CEOs do. When people like me go in and interview them, they don’t really answer the question, or that could be a problem, frankly, but they want to get their point across, so somehow they use the question to give the answer that they want to give. Of course, then there are some tricky questions. I know we publish things like, what’s the one thing you’ll never be as good at as others? That is an actual Harvard Business School admissions.

[00:30:39.520] – Maria

That’s a common one. That’s a common one. What are you not so good at? That’s because it’s self awareness.

[00:30:44.640] – John

Yeah. What do you want to be remembered as? What’s your definition of a leader? How do you fit that definition? How do you make big decisions? How would your parents describe you when you were twelve? That’s a weird one. What is one thing I’d never have guessed about you, even after reading your application? What is one thing you would like me to remember about you? All interesting questions that some people may not expect. But again, swiss army knife. I like that metaphor. I really do. All right, everyone out there, good luck. When you do go in an interview, do realize that it is just an interview. You need to be yourself. You need to be casual. You need to be somewhat relaxed, even if for you, the stakes are high because you’re looking for professional presence as well. And maybe that’s as important to them in some cases than the actual answers that you give. The other thing is, hey, it’s a 50 50 shot, basically. Usually half the people are a little bit more than half who get an interview are accepted. And I’ll go back to what Caroline’s original comments were during our podcast.

[00:32:03.860] – John

They’re cracking a class. They may interview a number of people who are in the same pool as you are. They may be consultants. They may be investment bankers that may be in tech, they may be nontraditional. They may be from a certain country or certain gender, and you’re competing against them even at the interview stage. And it’s very simple. You could do a really good interview, and then ultimately they pick someone else who may have even done an interview that wasn’t as good as yours for some other reasons. You just don’t know. And that’s the big mystery of admissions that I think drives people crazy, to be honest, because most schools, of course, almost all schools don’t give feedback because it would be an impossible task.

[00:32:53.370] – Maria

Maria first of all, anyone listening to this, listen to our last podcast about how many schools should I apply to, and that’s why I should apply to lots of schools. But also, this is also, like it’s the same thing with dating or applying for jobs. If we all married the first person we dated, because that’s why you go on lots of dates with people. That’s why you apply for lots of jobs. That’s why you apply to lots of business schools. So I appreciate the idea of, like, oh, you know, it’s such a random thing, and that’s so stressful. But, I mean, a lot about life is stressful and random in that way, and, you know, it’s not you, it’s me. Sometimes if you get rejected from a school, it’s not you, baby, it’s me. So don’t take it if you wouldn’t, if you’re like, oh, I went on five dates and with five different people, and I didn’t get a third date. I didn’t get married to any of them. Keep going. Date a lot or don’t get married. You don’t have to get an MBA. I don’t know. Maybe people relax. If people relax a little bit more about the process, they might do better in the process.

[00:34:10.440] – John

I think that’s really true. That’s certainly true in dating. I mean, if you come off as stiff or arrogant or you talk too much or you talk too little, those are killers. Who wants to date you again? It’s the same thing in the admissions interview, right?

[00:34:26.220] – Maria

Hi. My name is Maria. How many children do you want? Like, whoa, okay, calm down a little. Maybe that’s it. Maybe if you tell yourself, like, oh, my gosh, my whole life depends upon this. I don’t know. Keep in mind that this is a first world problem, that you are going to be fine, you’re going to have a lovely life, and so if you get into business school, awesome, that’s great. We’re excited for you.

[00:34:50.440] – Caroline

That opening line didn’t work for you.

[00:34:52.510] – Maria

Maria I know. That’s the opening line I used, in fact, for many years, and it didn’t work. I didn’t think I wanted children until I got it anyway, but so anyway, yeah. I just think maybe that’s part of it. Maybe people who are so who take it so seriously, that desperation or that level of seriousness either messes up their interview performance or comes across in the interview and is therefore a turn off and the irony being the more importance you give this and the more you tell yourself like, my life is over. I’ve been dreaming of going to MIT Sloan since I was two years old. The first three letters I learned in the alphabet were M-I-T. And so if I don’t get in, my life is over. Interestingly enough, you might actually do really poorly because of that pressure that you’ve put on yourself.

[00:35:44.140] – John

Yeah, really good point. Alright everybody, hey, good luck on your interviews if you’re still doing them in your round one. Fantastic. And of course before we know it, the round two deadlines will be here and before you know it, interview invites will go out or not. So we’re hoping this is helpful to you. This is John Byrne with Poets and Quants. You’ve been listening to Business Casual, our weekly podcast.

How To Do An MBA Admissions Interview
Maria |
November 19, 2022


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