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CMU / Tepper MBA Admissions Interview Report: Round 1 / Adcom / Skype

tepperThe following interview report was submitted by a Round 1 applicant to the Tepper MBA program. 

To give a background, I had applied to 5 schools – Booth, Ross, Tepper, Anderson and Stern. I was dinged without an interview from Booth and Ross but did get interview calls from the rest. Booth and Ross were the first couple of schools, that I had applied to – So I guess you do get better in the application process.

I distinctly remember Tepper’s application, as it was one of the lengthiest. There were 6 essays in all including the short-term / long term goals and the re-applicant essay. I was ecstatic at having received an interview invite within a couple of days of submitting the application. I chose to interview over Skype as Tepper does provide you an option to do that.

I was a little late in scheduling the interview and that meant I was supposed to be interviewed at 2 A.M on a Friday night. Tepper conducts all its interviews via ad-com members. Its a half an hour interview and its best to dress up in formals irrespective of the fact that the interview happens over a video call.

My interviewer was a little late, but she was polite enough to let me know that. The interview started at 2:08 and the opening note was “Good morning, Good evening or Good afternoon wherever you are”. I swallowed the rudeness and with a smile on my face told her that I was in India and it was 2 A.M at night (The fact that she chose to ignore). She said that the interview was a very important part of the evaluation process and she will be taking notes as I speak.

Also she said that she would be asking me a series of experiential questions and it was alright if I needed sometime to think.

Short Term and Long Term goals after MBA
What were my alternate career plans in case I am unable to achieve my goals ?
My experience of working in a multicultural environment and any problems that I may have faced because of it.
Narrate an example
When I had to do something that I was not comfortable with, in the larger interest of the team.
When I had to convince my superiors and peers of something that they were not really convinced of.
Of managerial responsibility at work or otherwise – (Since I had mentioned that I do not have any direct reportees)
Overall the interview lasted only 20 minutes. At 2:25 she said, she was done with her set of questions and asked me
if I had any. I asked her a couple of questions on the life at Tepper and challenges faced by international students, to which she answered.

What made this interview a little disturbing was that, while I would be answering questions, it seemed she was pre-occupied with something else. She was adjusting her chair, organizing stuff on her desk, using her computer, doing everything except listening to my answers. Assuming that she was bored with my replies, I kept my answers short – Hoping to get her attention on the next question. Unfortunately the strategy did not work. My horror was confirmed when the interview ended prematurely.

Since it was a Friday, a whole weekend of mourning followed. I remember having narrated the interview to a number of my friends and everyone was empathetic on the fact that, I had received a tough interviewer. My chances at Tepper looked bleak at best.

So I was jumping with joy, when I received the following link in my

The experience taught me a few things:
Not all b-school interviews are conversational and free flowing.
One should be prepared for difficult situations – Retrospectively speaking, It seems my interviewer was trying to test my patience.
The preparation does help. I had taken a couple of mock interviews before and I knew that I had to take verbal cues, on whether to add more on an answer, or keep my answers short, or ask a follow-up question. Not sure, what worked but at least I was able to look unperturbed during the interview.
Schedule an interview as early as possible – Since most of the Indian applicants will be looking to schedule their interviews at an appropriate time the good slots do fill up fast.

The jury is still out, whether I did the right thing in not questioning my interviewer. A few people that I spoke to suggested that I should have questioned her, asking her if there was anything else that I should be adding to my answers. But I stick to my strategy of not having done that.

The interview was first published on my blog:

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