As I prepare for my upcoming second business school interview (self-initiated for Kellogg), it’s useful to re-hash how my first interview went so I can improve my performance and chances of admission at Kellogg. There were many times during the previous interview where I heard myself talking and simultaneously imagined facepalming myself, so it would be nice to avoid that in the future.
The interview process itself for Stern was very straightforward. I had reviewed the list of potential interview questions and looked at the more recent interview reports, so I (theoretically) knew what to expect. On the day of my scheduled interview, just as others had described, I arrived on-campus, received a folder of information customized to my academic and extracurricular interests, chatted with the other waiting applicants and then met with an admissions staff member.
The interviewer was pleasant and set a friendly tone for the interview, starting with a softball question about one of my more unique hobbies. I had anticipated walking through my resume first, so I kind of swung at this question a little off-balance. I could’ve conveyed my passion for this hobby more, but I gave a sufficient answer. Then, we dove into the standard interview questions: why an MBA now, why Stern, career goals, walk me through your résumé – those I answered reasonably well, having honed my answers through the application process.
Where I ran into trouble, though, was a string of questions that asked me to describe my strengths and weaknesses and how others might perceive me in a few different contexts. I had prepped answers for these questions, but for some reason I decided that my prepared answers weren’t compelling enough, and I answered on the fly. It worked for some of these questions, but not for others, particularly when some answers might have conflicted with others. Then, I became conscious of my posture, shifted in my seat, and continued my imaginary facepalming.
Still, despite my apparent blunders, the interviewer was very encouraging, so I stopped rehashing my answers and remained motivated and engaged for the rest of the interview. Mercifully, the interview approached the end and the interviewer asked if I had any questions about Stern. Here, I regained some ground by asking questions that demonstrated the amount of research I did on Stern and my interest in attending. When I left the interview room, I thought I would not be surprised for the admissions decision to go either way. Thankfully, I got in – maybe I didn’t do as poorly as I thought and/or the rest of my application was strong enough.
Looking forward, I will need to do a better job of just being natural and not worrying about saying what I think the interviewer and school want to hear. I believe I am a good fit for the schools I have applied to, so I just need to demonstrate why I think so. Part of improving my interviewing performance will come in the form of trusting my preparation and candidacy, and another part will be to treat the interview as a friendly, two-way conversation. If I can do that, I will have given my admissions chances one last boost.