I got an interview invite!
WOW - I totally gave up on Wharton last night.
what did I tell ya
Whew... I am glad you were right!
Are you still going to write a debrief? I am definitely waiting for it!
Its 2 AM in Europe and I am still awake because of some serious jetlag, so here goes
After a co-worker told me he had scheduled a R1 interview on campus and said it took only 20 minutes, I knew I wanted to do an alumni interview for a few reasons:
1) I felt I didn't have as strong as an application as him and viewed the interview as an opportunity to strengthen my application (Incidentally, my co-worker was accepted and is matriculating at W). I needed more than 20 minutes to explain my case.
2) I didn't think it was worth the money to fly to Philly and visit te school just yet; If i get accepted, I will definitely do it then knowing my $$ are being put to good use.
3) I felt an alumnus could give a better perspective of student life , employment opportunities, classroom experience etc. than a member of adcom.
4) I was informed by several people that an alumni, hub or on campus interview had equal weightage and was not concerned that an alumni interview would weaken my case.
So I located an local alumni and setup a Friday afternoon interview with him. In retrospect, I think it worked out well by scheduling the interview on Friday since the pace was very relaxed. When the interview started, I was told the interview would be about 45 minutes in total. I got asked the standard questions:
1) Talk about about my education and work expereince
2) I was asked whetehr I had talked to any alumni.
3) Why MBA? Why now? Why a second Master's degree? Why Wharton?
4) Explain a situation where I had team conflict. How did I deal with it?
5) Explain a situation where I had an ethical dilemma. what did I do?
6) Explain any acivities/hobbies/groups I am in involved when I was at school, at work and also after work.
7) Which other schools was I applying to and how high W was on the list (I am not sure if he was allowed to ask for this and I wasn't asked this that directly).
8) Since I seemed to have a lot of travel experience, I was asked what if anything I learned from it.
In the end, I was allowed to ask questions. I had a whole slew of them, and by the time the interview was done , the interview had gone for 90 minutes ! (Though I spent only 5-10 minutes on questions) . I felt good about it since I had good answers for all the questions. But more importantly, the interviewer had followed a very similar career path that I wanted to follow and it allowed me to ask some very good questions and get some great insights.
Since the interviewer worked in the company that I would like to work at right after getting out of a MBA program, I joked maybe I would be interviewing again in a couple years with him but then it would be for a full time job
Anyther thing that really worked out for me is I came out a a person that was extremely well networked - the alumni that was asked about in Q2 above was known to the interviewer. When I explained some of the more exotic counties I visited, he threw a few names of co-workers from those countires who I personally knew! And when I was leaving the interview and he saw my blackberry, he talked about a former boss who lived by his blackberry. Based on his description , I said I knew a very similar person and in 5 minutes we found out we were talking about the same person!! It was ridiculous - the sun, moon and planets seemed to line up for me! Based on how long the interview went and my reponses to his questions, I felt the interview went quite well and if I didn't get accepted, I knew it wouldn't be because of a bad interview. If i had any advice, it would be:
1) Make sure you read you applciation to brush up on some the standard questions. When I was asked how Wharton would be able to help prepare me for my career path, I was able to throw in names of classes and professors (who the interviewer was familiar with) that I hd researched when I was working on my essays. He was definitely impressed.
2) Use the opportunity to 'sell' yourself , but do it with humility. Since the interviewer is not familiar with your application, make sure you bring out the strenghts from your application ( There is no need to feel like you are wasting time by repeating information)
3) Since I have done many interviews before (as an interviewer at my workplace), I know sending hand written thank you notes 24 hours later and or sending emails 5 - 10 hours later would be too late to close the deal. So I had already composed an thank you email which highlighted why I was a good candidate well before the interview and saved it as a draft. When the interview was over, I spent another 10 minutes adding more specific info from the interview and I emailed the thank you message to the interviewer from my phone. There was a good chance he saw it before he turned in his feedback and used my email to frame his evaluation.
4) Don't fail to view the interview as chance to grow your network; many of the alumni are employed at great places to work and you might very well look for an internship/job at the same place in the future. And if not you, you will defintely know someone who can benefit from it.
Since I made the decision to do a MBA just recently (I decided only late october 2008 that I wanted to do an MBA, scheduled and took the GMAT two weeks later and had barely a month to get recommendations and complete my essays), Wharton was the only application that I spent considerable time on and felt was good. I amn't surprised at not getting interviews at H or S bacause I had poorly developed essays and it seems like all my MBA eggs are in the W basket for now. Considering the circumstances, I am happy with my interview and have gotten this far at W, and I am hopeful that I have a greater than 50% chance at acceptance at W. And if not this year, then I know I will have a much stronger app next year.
Finally, I hope you all find this debrief useful and all of us GMATclubbers can convert our interviews to acceptances. I sincerely wish good luck to you all!