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Northwestern / Kellogg Interview Report: Round 2 / Alumnus / Off-campus

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The following Northwestern / Kellogg interview report was submitted to Clear Admit by a Round 2 applicant. Good luck to them! 

I got my interview invite around Jan 25 and I scheduled it for the furthest possible date…14 days after the invite.

I drove to my alumnus interviewer’s startup within my city and reached there 45 mins before time in the afternoon. It was pretty hot in my vehicle especially in business formals so I thought I’ll go up to his company and sit at the reception for 45 mins instead of sitting in my vehicle. Well, we instead started my interview right-away. He offered tea/coffee as we two sat in a huge conference room in his startup.

He laid out the ground rules and guidelines right away. He reminded me that Kellogg interviews a large percentage of applicants. He said that alumni interview is a tiny spec in the 1000’s of data points the B-school will use to evaluate me, and the interview is neither a deal breaker nor a deal-maker. He said he will set a free flowing interview where I need to keep going on and on and he would interrupt me as and when he feels like; I should remember to go back to what I was saying if he interrupts me.
He then asked me if I wanted few minutes to strategize or start with it.

“Why don’t you introduce yourself?”

I introduced myself in a rehearsed, summarized manner – under 1 minute introduction.

“Tell me about your time at your 2 companies. What shows that you have done outstanding work there?”

He then asked me about some performance metrics at the 2 companies I have worked at. Something like in the top X% in appraisal or in getting an early promotion. I told him about my rating zones but my companies doesn’t reveal how many % employees get those ratings, so he found that info useless. I also explained to him how does my designation at my second company relate to my earlier company’s designation.

Eventually the thing he settled at was when I mentioned my first few months experience in my first job when I was poached by another manager, which almost never happens.

Then we discussed about my undergraduate experience.

He asked me to “tell him the key highlights of my undergraduate time.”

I rephrased the question to mention key takeaways from my undergraduate time. I talked about my very high involvement in extracurriculars first and how over time I came to love my undergraduate major instead of these extracurriculars. I also talked about my leadership growth in college through psychology electives and self-learning.

He then asked me to “summarize and talk about my non-profit exposure.”

I explained how I had gotten involved with non-profits and talked about recent accomplishments in it and the exposure I’ve got from it.

I think after this:

“What are your long term goals?”

“Tell me about your background” / “family background”

The question was probably slightly different. I told him my hometown and told him my father’s occupation and what did I learn from it. It directly tied into my undergraduate education and my long term goals.

“Why an MBA?”

He asked why MBA question 3 times, probably because I wasn’t able to convince him well enough for my need for an US MBA even though I have entrepreneurial goals back in my country.

“What are the career steps you see after Kellogg?”

I talked about the position and companies I intend to join right after Kellogg, and then my long term goal. I said this is the two-step career progression I have thought of.

On hearing my short-term goals, he said, oh yes, then it makes sense for you to go to Kellogg. I knew he too had entered a very similar role post-MBA.

And he then asked me whether there was anything else I wanted him to have asked him. I was stumped because there were countless things I would’ve loved to have been asked about. I said, well there are many more things that we can talk about…like an accomplishment, a failure, why Kellogg.

So he asked me to “talk about a failure.”
I went back to a failure in my college days and the consequential learning leading up to my work-ex.

Then he asked me “why Kellogg?”

I talked about few professional interests via courses and experiential activities that I’m eager to take part in. Mentioned an alumni I’d talked to, a student I’d talked to.

Then he again asked me if there is anything else he should’ve asked or anything else I want to tell him that wasn’t part of the rest of my application. I was still in a state of bewilderment because it is hard to think of things that’ll make an impact. I had prepared few key points I want to put across in the interview and I revised them out aloud. He was happy to hear that.

“What is unique about you?”

Since I had already used up all material for this answer just before it, I wasn’t sure what to say for it. Stumbled, mumbled, then jumbled the sentences and talked about few diverse and mismatched things. His body-language told me he didn’t like it. I was then just mentally hoping that since he asked this question as an after-thought, he would be glad to give me high rating without this answer pulling his mental image down.

“Do you have anything to ask me?”

I had done my research on him, even talked to an ex-colleague of his, a business acquittance of his and even another aspirant whom he had interviewed few years back. But, I asked him to tell me a bit about his background. I could see that either he wasn’t happy with that question or he was gathering his thoughts before speaking.

I then asked me some pointed questions from material he hadn’t provided me (Thank you, LinkedIn). He was happy to see that I’ve done my research on him. He was of the belief that an MBA isn’t required at all for his career path (very similar to my intended path). It only gives him the confidence to excel in diverse interpersonal situations. Talked about few more things from his experience and I also mentioned some of my ideas for my goals.

I asked him if he wants to further cross-question on ‘Why I am sure I want an MBA for my goals’. He said ‘no its fine, as there are different thought processes to it.’ I mentioned the vast number of alumni I have talked to and how I have faced that question countless times and that I am still convinced.

Then I thanked him, signed out in the register, and came back.

Preparing for an upcoming Northwestern / Kellogg interview? Click here to get the Clear Admit Kellogg Interview Guide.

After your interview, be sure to add your first-hand interview report to the Clear Admit Interview Archive.

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