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A Conceptual View of Admissions Interviews [#permalink]
25 Oct 2005, 15:32
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A Conceptual View of Admissions Interviews
There has been increasing interest among GMAT Club members regarding admissions interviews. I think it would be valuable to consider the basics of these interviews.
Idealist/Ostensible Purpose of Interviews: Help put a human face to the application process. Fill in details of the application that are not conveyed well on paper.
Realist/Cynical Purpose of Interviews: Screen out students who will have difficult time in employment interviews and are thus difficult academic merchandise to sell. Make certain that the applicant is a human being.
Employment: Interview an important factor. Weak students in admissions interviews are presumably weak students in employment interviews.
Academics: Moderately important. Interviewer can probe about academic experiences but not the best means of extracting academic information
Social Skills: Interview an important factor. Students who are weak in this form of social interaction are presumably weak in interacting with project teammates
Demographic: Somewhat important. Interviewer can ask how applicant sets herself apart from others and observe visible minority status of student
Leadership/Ethics: Somewhat important factor- visibly evasive answers or statements inconsistent with resume put interviewer on notice of possible ethics issues
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.