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Vote Now for the Best MBA Interview Report for January ’16

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We’re back again! We’ve taken the liberty of choosing the top 5 MBA interview reports that were submitted in January. Now, we’re turning it over to you (because we can’t decide).

It’s time to vote for the best one. The MBA interview report that garners the greatest number of votes will receive a $100 Amazon Gift Card. Voting will remain open until Sunday, February 11th, at 11:59 p.m. EST.

So without further ado, here are the top five. And, for your convenience, we’ve also included the full text below the embedded poll. Or, if you are on a mobile device and are having issues, you can access the poll here.

1. INSEAD Interview Report: Round 1 / Alumnus / Off-campus
2. Stanford Interview Report: Round 1 / Alumnus / Off-campus
3. Harvard Business School Interview Report: Round 1 / Adcom / On Campus
4. UPenn / Wharton Interview Report: Round 1 / Second-year student / On-campus
5. UT Austin / McCombs Interview Report: Round 1 / Adcom / Off-Campus Hub

Full Text of Top 5 Interview Reports for January

1. INSEAD Interview Report: Round 1 / Alumnus / Off-campus

The following INSEAD MBA interview report was submitted to Clear Admit by a Round 1 applicant who was accepted. Congratulations to them!

Congratulations if you’ve made it as far as getting an interview invitation from INSEAD! If you aren’t already aware, INSEAD generally requires you to do 2 interviews with alumni, and they find current alumni in your city to interview you. When the names of the alumni I was meant to contact were emailed through, I was also instructed to either send the alumni my CV or a copy of my INSEAD application. However, whether or not they read it is completely up to them, as such the interview could be blind or application-based depending on your interviewer.

This report I’m writing is about my second interview with an alumnus who was a partner at an investment banking firm. It was by far the most intense and thorough interview I had experienced, which was a bit of a suprise. In fact, it was so thorough that I wound up having a one hour face-to-face interview and then a follow up 45 min phone interview with him and never got to ask him any questions!

The interview took place early in the morning before regular business hours in his office, which made the atmosphere somewhat formal. He started off introducing himself and said he graduated from INSEAD 12 years ago. He also had a printout of my INSEAD application which I had sent him, and told me that he had read it in detail.

The first thing he told me to do was to walk him through my entire CV. As I took him through my CV, he would often interrupt and ask me “Why did you decide to do that?” or “How did you feel about making that decision?” He basically questioned every step I took in my CV. Many of the questions he asked were around thought processes and what I was feeling when I made various decisions which was different to other interviews I had experienced.

I was asked the typical “why an MBA?” and “why INSEAD?” questions. However, he threw me a few curve balls as well by asking me what I was feeling towards getting an MBA, any reservations I had, and what my greatest fears in doing the MBA would be. These were not questions that had come up in previous INSEAD interview reports when I did my interview prep.

He then moved on to leadership and teamwork questions and again rather than asking about my experiences and successes, he wanted to know my reasoning behind decisions I made and what I felt during the process. This was quite surprising as I had thought about my reasoning but not my feelings per se.

We ran out of time after 1 hour due to all the detail I had to provide and so he asked if he could schedule a follow-up phone interview since he had to go to a meeting. The follow up phone interview took place 3 days later when he had time available and again happened before normal business hours in the morning.

In the phone interview he covered my extra-curricular activities and personality traits. Interestingly he asked specifically for me to describe an entrepreneurial situation and clarified that it could be within the workplace. Thankfully I actually have a hobby side-business, but I think I would have struggled if I didn’t have an “obvious” experience as I was not prepared for such a question.

I was asked about my strengths and my weaknesses, which I had prepared for. However several personality trait questions later, he also asked for specific examples of when I made a good judgement and when I made a bad judgement, which was different from strengths and weaknesses.

I basically used up every single story I had pre-prepared in this interview and had to come up with many more on the spot. At the end he summed up all my strengths and said he had a good understanding now of who I was as a person, and that he thought I’d fit very well at INSEAD. He also gave me some advice telling me that I should be confident and feel like I deserve my place at INSEAD, i.e. to not be in awe of my fellow classmates.

My experience with him reinforced my positive image of INSEAD alumni. In spite of the intense and detailed questioning, I never felt like he was asking the challenging questions to “catch me out”, but rather because he genuinely wanted to get to know me. My advice to applicants is to be “real” and show your interviewers who you are as a person. Understanding your thoughts and feelings helps them connect with you and become one of your “supporters”.

INSEAD informs your interviewers regarding the outcome of your application by the way. I was waitlisted for Round 1 and I contacted him to let him know. He said that INSEAD had already told him and that he had replied to them conveying his surprise at their decision, which I thought was very nice of him. I ended up getting accepted to INSEAD when the Round 2 final decisions first started coming out, though I can’t tell whether or not my interviewer’s remark on INSEAD’s decision in support of me did make a difference.

2. Stanford MBA Interview Report: Round 1 / Alumnus / Off-campus

The following Stanford MBA interview report was submitted to Clear Admit by a Round 1 applicant.

I had mailed the alumna to set up a time and she suggested a star-hotel’s cafe on same week’s Friday morning.

I waited for 30 minutes beyond our scheduled time. Had to actually call her – turned out she forgot to set a reminder.

As we sat in the quiet cafe, she apologized for being late and explained how the interview would go. She said it’ll be a behavioral interview, that it is blind, and asked for a paper copy of my résumé. She said that nothing I say will be taken at face value, but that she’ll dive deep into the experiences. She said we have 45 minutes for this including 10 minutes for me to ask her questions. She said Stanford discourages for interviewer and candidate to be in touch post-interview, at the least until the results are out, and that she’ll not be able to give any feedback about how the interview went. Said she’ll introduce herself, then move on to me. Once I gave her my résumé, she quickly glanced through it and seemed to have profiled my work-experience.

I am actually surprised – MIT typically conducts behavioral interviews; whereas Stanford interviews typically seem to cover 6/+ questions – meaning fewer follow-ups per question.

1. After her introduction, I introduced myself as I’d rehearsed.

2. Tell me about a time you are proud or glad or happy that you made an impact, or made a difference.

– I had lot of follow ups. Probably 10/+ questions.

3. Tell me about a time you saw an opportunity someone else didn’t? Sometime you had to get buy-in from someone for your idea? when others weren’t accepting your idea?

– Again, I had 15/+ follow ups.

– I was trying to keep my explanation in layman terminology, but her follow-ups forced me to use attempted-simplified technical terms, which probably made it confusing.

– I also got stuck for few seconds trying to simplify the details of technicalities

4. Tell me a time you made/influenced a change to an organization / business / team.

– similarly, 10/+ follow ups.

5. What is it that drives you?

– I answered this with a very simplified and elementary answer. I could’ve instead picked up from my WMM essay – that would’ve totally made sense and was obviously refined.

I think 35 minutes had ended by then – seemed really, really early. She asked if there were any questions I wanted to ask her.

– I asked her about how her post-MBA corporate work-ex helped her when she was running her startup

– Asked her about what would she do if doing MBA again.

– Asked her how she blended her learnings from 1 corporate work-ex to another

– Asked how best can i utilize my time from now to start of MBA somewhere in between she very casually asked what do I wanna do after MBA. I answered very succinctly – should’ve elaborated, especially as I am very focused on my goals. My pre-MBA and post-MBA trajectory are very similar to hers.

• Asked her about minute detail from her LinkedIn profile which she’d done with another alumna I’d met

She said she has few further notes she needs to write before going.

I thanked her for her time and mentioned I am really glad to have met her – the first Stanford alumni I met who already had run multiple startups. I mentioned 2 other Stanford alumni I’d talked to, both who’d come back to our country and were running startups.

I was surprised by the structure of the interview. Was mildly surprised that she was so strict about the time, and hadn’t asked some the typical questions like why MBA/Stanford/goals.

I mailed her a thank you, and a pleasure to meet, and 1-2 take-aways from her awesome career info.

Eventually was rejected.

3. Harvard Business School Interview Report: Round 1 / Adcom / On Campus

The following Harvard Business School interview report was submitted to Clear Admit by a Round 1 applicant who was admitted. Congratulations to them!

I traveled from Mumbai to Boston for my Harvard Business School interview. There was a full day of activities planned for the interview invites, including a class visit, career center info session, chat with current students, lunch with faculty, campus tour, and others.) I highly recommend that any HBS interview invitees visit campus for the interview, no matter how far away they may have to travel. Just before the interview, we were given a brief 2 minute pep talk by Dee Leopold herself.

In the interview, the adcom member was very friendly. She had a thorough knowledge of my entire application, and some basic information about my industry.

• 5% of my interview was small talk and getting comfortable (it was an unusually warm day in the middle of November)
• 85% of the interview focused on high-level understanding of my role and industry
• 10% was about my personality and extra-curriculars

Questions asked (I may have missed a couple):

• Small talk
• Has the application process helped you reflect?
• How did you choose to join Jio?
• I see you now have a new role at Jio; talk about that.
• What kinds of issues do you deal with day-to-day?
• What is your typical day like?
• How important is intuition at Jio?
• How is the culture at Jio?
• Why did Reliance decide to get into consumer-facing market like telecom?
• Who are Jio’s competitors?
• How is Unilever an innovative company?
• What are your post-MBA goals?
• Tell me about your monthly Astronomy meet-ups.
• How would those close to you describe you in 3 words?

We moved rapidly through the questions. Quite conversational. No odd-ball questions.

I got my admit decision last month. Best of luck to any Harvard Business School interview invitees out there!

4. UPenn / Wharton Interview Report: Round 1 / Second-year student / On-campus

The following UPenn / Wharton interview report was submitted to Clear Admit by a Round 1 Health Care Management applicant who was admitted. Congratulations to them!

I was a Health Care Management (HCM) applicant and had two interviews: one with a second-year student, and one with the HCM director, June Kinney.

My student interview included the standard Wharton group interview and a brief one-on-one with the second-year after. The group interview was with ~six other applicants, with two second-year moderators/observers. We were emailed a prompt with our interview invitation (prompt: acting as a student at Wharton, plan a conference covering the topic of your choice); at the interview, we were tasked with picking one person’s idea, forming the details around the conference, and presenting our proposal to our student observers.

Everyone was cordial and clearly on their best behavior, although I think there are a few strategies that tend to be most successful here (I have several friends at Wharton and have compared my experience to theirs):

1) the mostly silent observer – this saves you from being overly domineering or annoying, which you absolutely do not want – just occasionally offer supportive feedback to your teammates and come off as an all-around good guy; or

2) the leader – this is trickier, as you do NOT want to be too bossy, but there does tend to be one or two people per group that keep an eye on the time and make sure you end up with a deliverable to present by the deadline.

I chose the second route, because I didn’t see my group finishing on time otherwise… you’ll need to judge how your group is progressing and make a game-time decision. My advice is that first and foremost, this is a character test: do not be cocky, do not dominate the conversation, do not promote only your own ideas, etc. Common sense will save the day here. And, for what it’s worth, I did very little prep on the prompt – all you need is a ~1 minute pitch, and if it sounds too rehearsed you will be labeled as the annoying candidate in your group (mine definitely had one). You’ll also need a ~20 second intro (undergrad school, current job, city, etc). Go early and make friends in the waiting room; always good to have allies of course. My one-on-one with the second-year was very laid back. He asked me what I felt my role was in the group and to evaluate the group’s performance. Then he mostly left it to me to ask a couple of questions, some small talk, and I was on my way. Very cool and very classically Wharton, in my view.

My HCM interview with June Kinney was very conversational – we spoke primarily about my career goals and experience at work thus far. I think June just wants to ensure that you’ve put some thought into why you’re getting an MBA, why Wharton, and why HCM – career placement is very, very big here and you should have an idea of where you want to go and how to get there. Also a lot of small talk here – remember Penn is a social place and your EQ matters as well! Don’t be thrown off by questions about what you do for fun, what your family is like, etc. June is wonderful and I genuinely enjoyed the conversation.

I was initially worried I may have been somewhat bossy during the group interview…but all in all, felt pretty good about the day. I was accepted with a scholarship.

5. UT Austin / McCombs Interview Report: Round 1 / Adcom / Off-Campus Hub

The following UT Austin / McCombs interview report was submitted to Clear Admit by a Round 1 applicant.

I interviewed during Round 1 and chose the option for the off-campus hub in NYC. My interviewer was a member of the admissions committee, and the interview took place in a coffee shop in the lobby of a hotel. The environment was relaxed, but my interview was at 10 AM so it was quite noisy at times with the blender going which made it hard to hear my interviewer (we were fairly close to the counter), and I worried that he had trouble hearing me.

My interviewer had my résumé with him, and said that he had not read my application in full before the interview. He was taking notes all over the front and back of my résumé during the interview, but was engaged, asking follow up questions and probing deeper when necessary. Overall, the tone was very friendly and engaging, they really want to get a sense of who you are and your history, as well as what you would bring to the program/your fit with the culture.

The questions were:

Quick walk-through of résumé
Why an MBA?
Why McCombs?
What do you do now and what do you want to do after you MBA? Why?
Describe responsibilities at current job and how they evolved with promotion
Example of teamwork/leadership
How would you interact with the McCombs community? What would you contribute?
What have you learned about yourself through the MBA application process?
Is there anything they forgot to ask or that you want them to know?

I would definitely recommend having a good answer prepared for why McCombs and how you would interact/contribute to the McCombs community. My interviewer was also an alum of the program so having an opportunity for questions at the end was valuable. I thought it went well and I was ultimately admitted. My advice would be if you are in an off-campus hub, don’t choose peak breakfast or lunch times as the location may be busy/loud, and relax and be yourself!

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