In some ways interviews are oral counterparts to the essays. However, they have some valuable characteristics not shared with the essays
1) Unlike essays interviews they are interactive. Depending on the structure of the interview, the interviewer can ask follow up questions and receive immediate answers.
2) In person interviews allow observation of the applicantâ€™s facial expressions and body language. This can give valuable insight into attempts to deceive the interviewer.
3) The interview allows less time to plan answers allowing for a more spontaneous exchange than that provided by essays.
4) And, of course, interviewers can the interviewer first hand insight into how the student handles social situations.
However, interviews impose a number of risks on the application process:
1) Interviews place a premium on the interaction between one specific interviewer and the applicant. The interviewer's impression of the student might differ dramatically from the impression formed by another interviewer or the median interviewer in the same circumstance. The happenstance of a bad match between applicant and interviewer could bias that student's candidacy. This can be minimized to some extent by careful matching of students and interviewers and interviewer training.
2) Interviewers might be prejudiced or biased by the physical appearance of applicants including the perceived race, gender,national origin, or ethnicity of the applicant. Further, it should be noted that there is generally no independent review of what takes place in an admissions interview. Thus, students who believe that inappropriate behavior has taken place have little ability to voice their concerns.
3) The interview is biased in favor of students who are strong in oral expression. For those students who will follow careers that do not stess oral expression, an emphasis on oral expression is not a representative sample of the skill set needed by these students.
4) It is an open question whether there is a "correct" personality for success in business or even success in business school. It is especially difficult to engage in such subjective evaluations without resorting to autophilia (I'm a successful alumnus thus the best applicants are people like me . . . ) which tends to perpetuate existing levels of demographic diversity.
5) Finally, interviews tend to be relatively weak predictors of academic success.