This post was written by Kim Killingsworth, Director of International Recruiting & Relations.
I recently had the wonderful experience of reuniting with the first MBA candidate I interviewed on my very first trip to India, many years ago. I was pleased to hear that Amol had accomplished not only his short-term goal of returning to India but also his long-term goal of starting his own consultancy, which seemed to be doing well.
Reflecting back all those years ago, I still remember the admissions interview, not necessarily because of the content but rather how the candidate presented himself professionally and the impression he left on me. Amol had a sense of self-awareness and introspection and was able to articulate his goals and his plan for achieving them using his transferable skill set. I might as well have been a recruiter from BCG or McKinsey…and that is my point.
As an applicant or potential applicant to an MBA program, it is important to put yourself into the mindset of being evaluated by potential employers. With the ultimate outcome of the MBA program being a career boost or career switch, admissions officers view candidates through the lens of company recruiters. We not only take in your verbal responses but also observe your body language, your social skills, and your emotional awareness and responses – your EQ (emotional quotient). Moreover, the evaluation does not start with the interview, but with any earlier interactions with any representative from the admissions office.
All interactions (in-person, email, or phone) are noted and give you the opportunity to behave professionally as you would with potential employers. Would you send corporate recruiters an email without checking it for spelling and grammatical errors? Would you show up casually dressed for that dream job interview? In our interactions with you, we admissions officers ask ourselves “Is this somebody I’d feel comfortable putting in front of corporate recruiters? Is this somebody who will represent our school well?”
Just as pursuing career opportunities requires a degree of self-awareness and introspection, so does the MBA application process. Work on your elevator pitch: practice telling your story in a succinct, relevant manner. This will naturally help you be able to articulate your goals and the stepping stones you will use to achieve them. Framing your admissions application process as an extension of the employment evaluation process will serve you well; perhaps you too will stand out as a candidate whom the admissions team remembers years later.