Thank you to Niki da Silva, Director of Recruitment and Admissions, and Leigh Gauthier, Director of the Career Center at Rotman, for joining us for our first ever Toronto Rotman Q&A! The chat offered MBA applicants an excellent window into the Rotman admissions process – see the below excerpt for more on that.
Linda Abraham: Can you speak a minute about the video question, what to expect? I’m sure that’s one of the more innovative aspects of the application process.
Niki da Silva: Yes, absolutely. It’s certainly something that we were getting lots of question on. We really looked pretty carefully at what our process had been in the past, and historically had four relatively lengthy essays, and really felt as the MBA landscape has changed, and of course the Internet and chat rooms, and all of that has existed and created this culture or feeling that there was a right answer to those questions, or there was a marking guide. We wanted to do something that would be beneficial for us as an admissions committee in actually cutting through and cutting to the core of what makes candidates different and distinct and allow them an opportunity to speak to that in a pseudo-live way.
So there’s no pressure to research and rewrite and edit. And certainly, we still do have two essays, but wanted to give a new medium, create a new medium for candidates to really present who they are, what they’re all about. We want to see their personality. We want to see their passions and their interests, and how they answer what really are first-date type questions. We’re asking people to reflect on how their colleagues might describe them, or someone who really inspires them, and to do so in a way that is, essentially, live.
The expectation is, as part of the admissions process, the third essay question is this video response where candidates create a profile, log on, can go through as many times as they want, sample questions that are not recorded, so they get comfortable with the technology. They get comfortable with their responses. You [calm] any nerves, you quell any fears that you have about the technology.
And we did feel that so many of our candidates – and we do Skype video interviews for anyone that we can’t see face-to-face – that our candidate pool, they’re comfortable with the technology, so we provided a platform to talk to us. So you log in, you get to practice as many times as you want, and then you get two questions. One is a question that goes to everybody, and then the second question is chosen from a random bank of at least 20 questions.
And I think, in terms of what to expect, it’s just an opportunity, and I would encourage candidates to take it as an opportunity to be comfortable in your own skin and show us who you are, and feel that you’ll have an opportunity to actually differentiate yourself as a candidate and be admitted based on your unique story.
Linda Abraham: And when you say that candidates can practice, they just practice using the technology, they don’t really practice their responses? Or they can also practice their responses to the questions?
Niki da Silva: Yes, that’s a good point to clarify. They get a sample question so they can practice that particular sample question multiple times as they get comfortable. It doesn’t count; it’s not recorded, but it is an accurate reflection of how the video pops up, they get the question, their screen starts counting down in terms of 45 seconds, and 30 seconds left, and then their webcam starts recording, and then they get to also see, there’s a timed count down for when their response should be completed by.
Every candidate I know who has submitted the video essays so far has done at least one or two rounds of the sample question, just to get comfortable with it and figure out how it all works, and ensure that their webcam is positioned as they want it, and the volume and everything is all working. So we really wanted to ensure that we included that, to alleviate any anxiety. And we really wanted to pilot it this year, and position it as a pilot and see what we would learn from it.
So far it’s been fascinating. It’s been really telling that the content in some of those answers actually does give you a different perspective that you didn’t yet see in the application. So far it’s been a successful pilot, I would say.
You can also learn more about the Rotman admissions process and its design approach by viewing the Toronto Rotman MBA transcript or listening to the audio file. Visit our Toronto Rotman B-School Zone for more information on this top Canadian MBA program.