Should I apply Round 3?

I want to say 90% of the people who ask me about applying Round 3 want to do it because they can’t stand the idea of staying another year/minute at their job. And the applications I often read for Round 3 looked like they were slapped together after your boss said you had to work the weekend.

Many Round 3 candidates gave little thought to their post-MBA goals (though it seemed clear they didn’t want to return to their current employer!), their terrible GMAT was either taken for the first time the week of the deadline or will be submitted the day after the deadline. The letters of recommendation read like text messages. He’s really g8!

Now, a lot of people think, well there is nothing wrong with applying in a rush in Round 3 and if I don’t get in I will apply Round 1 the following fall. But here is the thing, the admissions office will read that terrible R3 application before they read your shiny new R1 application. So your introduction is the worst version of you. Also, you might be inconveniencing/annoying your recommenders by asking them for last minute recs. Re-applicants do get in all the time, but they usually present their best selves each time

I know you want to quit your job, but unless you are in the top 10% at work AND were summa cum laude in college, wait till Round 1 and quit the day after you are admitted.

Part 3: MBA Admissions Interview

Part 3 How To Crush It

  • Wear a suit. I mean it. You have to wear a suit. I have argued endlessly with my clients about the need to look professional for this interview. And maybe you can wear a tie dyed t-shirt, cut offs and your uncombed hair to your job, but you can’t to that in an MBA interview. So put on a suit that you buy, rent or borrow. Why? Because the admission office needs to know that you are capable of presenting yourself to recruiters and that you are not going to make your school and/or self look bad. And that you understand formal business etiquette even if you are going to run your own business MBA where the dress code is flannel.
  • Bring a copy of your resume. Bring 2. Even if it has not changed from when you submitted your application– just do it. I know a lot of people who were caught off guard when their interviewer asked for a copy.
  • Make a normal amount of eye contact. Wondering if the amount of eye contact you make is abnormal? Ask your coworkers.
  • Be nice to everyone. EVERYONE you meet the day of your interview can give feedback about you to the adcom. Receptionist, mail guy, students. And when the feedback was about how nice/funny/polite you were that goes a long way in your favor. And if it is about how rude you were–you are basically guaranteeing you will not be admitted. There was someone who didn’t realize that the person they were being incredibly condescending to was a member of the adcom team who was covering for the receptionist for 5 minutes. Well done.
  • Be self-aware. If your interviewer is asking the same question over and over it means you aren’t being specific on what happened or what your role was in the story you are telling. If they are cutting you off- it is because you are being long winded and not letting them get to all their questions. So be self -aware and adjust. But don’t freak out. I had a lot of interviewees who started out shaky but got it together mid-way through for an overall good interview.

Don’t forget that the interview means they are looking for more reasons to admit you. Go in knowing that the adcom liked what they learned about you in your application. If you ramble a little bit, or struggle with a question about your greatest failure don’t let that unravel you. Be the best version of yourself and good luck!

Part 2 MBA Interview

Part 2: You Have Been Summoned…

Now, if you have finally gotten the fantastic news that you are invited to interview with the school of your dreams, here is what I recommend you do:

  • Respond quickly to the invite to set up a time to be interviewed. You don’t need to be interviewed immediately, but you should respond ASAP.
  • Know your work experience. Be ready to walk through your resume in 5 minutes. Most schools ask behavioral based questions, which means they want real examples of how you dealt with challenges (and challenging people) in your current and past professional experience.
  • Google your interviewer. If your interview is with an alum, look them up so you can ask them questions about their professional background and how their MBA helped them. But don’t be creepy. You don’t need to stalk them on FB, find all their exes, and read their last Yelp review. But look them up on Linkedin and disclose that in the interview.
  • Be prepared. This means at the very least being able to answer basic questions like, why do you want an MBA? Why do you want one from our institution? What are your post-MBA goals? You will not believe how many candidates are baffled by this question. You can’t submit an application for an MBA , get an interview for an MBA and then be incapable of explaining WHY YOU WANT AN MBA! The notes the interviewer is write when you are flustered by these questions is “DO NOT ADMIT THIS PERSON”.

Don’t over prepare. Now this is a know thyself moment. Some of you do exceptionally well when you write out every detail of your responses to possible questions. But my experience has shown that most people do worse when they have a heavily scripted dialogue because they forget one word and then their entire train of thought goes out the window. They also become real stiff and impersonal in the interview. Before the interview (days in advance) have bullet points with specific examples for potential questions about your background and practice responses hitting important points . Practice enough so you aren’t saying umm, like or dude too many times. And yeah–a candidate once called me dude in an MBA admissions interview.