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How honest should one be about "other schools" in interview

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How honest should one be about "other schools" in interview [#permalink] New post 24 Feb 2008, 14:48
Hi when posed with the question "Have you applied to any other schools ?" during an interview, how honest should I be ?

OF COURSE I've applied to other schools, but if i own up to it, I am afraid that I may give the impression that the current school is not my first choice. So what would be a good way to tackle this ?

I'd be interested to hear what people with multiple admits have to say about this (hint nervous , kwam)
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Re: How honest should one be about "other schools" in interview [#permalink] New post 24 Feb 2008, 15:42
bsd, schools know and expect you to answer that you have applied to other schools. They are trying to figure out if your school choices were based on some underlying logic. If the schools to which you applied to lack a commom denominator that is in-sync with your goals, then you are in for trouble. DONT LIE.

I was asked this question during my cornell interview. I had picked out 5 important things I wanted out of an MBA education and I explained my school choices by articulating how each school in my portfolio will provide those 5 things. Having done that, I was also careful enough to shower praise on cornell and differentiate cornell's offerings compared to those of the others. I was up front about my Ross admit, but I also made a pre-emptive move by talking about Haas PT as my back up school. This strategy worked well for me and got me an admit from Johnson. Hope this helps.

bsd_lover wrote:
Hi when posed with the question "Have you applied to any other schools ?" during an interview, how honest should I be ?

OF COURSE I've applied to other schools, but if i own up to it, I am afraid that I may give the impression that the current school is not my first choice. So what would be a good way to tackle this ?

I'd be interested to hear what people with multiple admits have to say about this (hint nervous , kwam)
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Re: How honest should one be about "other schools" in interview [#permalink] New post 24 Feb 2008, 15:45
I say be honest, most interviewers don't expect applicants to apply to only one school. However, they don't want to know that they are your backup. Make sure that you divert the conversation back to how much you want to attend School X for reasons, A, B, and C.
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Re: How honest should one be about "other schools" in interview [#permalink] New post 24 Feb 2008, 18:58
A harder variant of this question is "If you got into schools X and Y, which one would you rather go to and why?". As nc and dj suggested, I guess it's best to be honest. Bloody hell, I'm sure they know we all apply to more than one school! But yeah, make sure your answer drifts towards why this school is your top choice and how it stands out from the others you applied to.
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Re: How honest should one be about "other schools" in interview [#permalink] New post 24 Feb 2008, 19:35
bsd_lover wrote:
Hi when posed with the question "Have you applied to any other schools ?" during an interview, how honest should I be ?

OF COURSE I've applied to other schools, but if i own up to it, I am afraid that I may give the impression that the current school is not my first choice. So what would be a good way to tackle this ?

I'd be interested to hear what people with multiple admits have to say about this (hint nervous , kwam)


Boost their F....Ego's --Just Lie --I cant get why the F --they need to know where you applied :evil: :evil:

name a few low ranked schools --and the low earning adcoms would feel like a heroes
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Re: How honest should one be about "other schools" in interview [#permalink] New post 24 Feb 2008, 20:46
bsd_lover wrote:
Hi when posed with the question "Have you applied to any other schools ?" during an interview, how honest should I be ?

OF COURSE I've applied to other schools, but if i own up to it, I am afraid that I may give the impression that the current school is not my first choice. So what would be a good way to tackle this ?

I'd be interested to hear what people with multiple admits have to say about this (hint nervous , kwam)


bsd, I am trying to remember if I was asked that question by an interviewer. I think the only person who asked me about my other applications was John Roeder from Vanderbilt. I was semi-honest with my answer, citing only top 20 schools and leaving out the M7s. I explained my reasoning behind applying to these schools followed by the reasons why Vandy appeals to me more than other schools. I should add, however, that I ended up withdrawing my application from Owen after my admit to Kellogg, so I don't know whether I did well with my answer.
I think the reason some interviewers ask this question is because they want to see some kind of consistency in your applications. For example, if you are interviewing with NYU, and say that the reason you want to attend NYU's MBA program is to find a job in IB in NYC post graduation, then applying to USC, Berkeley, and UCLA or Vandy might not make much sense to him/her. The interviewer might assume that a) you are lying about what you want to do or b) you have not thought through your career prospects upon graduation. Both will reflect poorly on you. However, if you say that you are applying to Yale and Columbia, it would show that you've done your research and are knowledgeable about peer schools. Don't forget to explain why NYU is a better choice for you though... doing so is very important, as you can guess ;)
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Re: How honest should one be about "other schools" in interview [#permalink] New post 24 Feb 2008, 21:03
I know this may be a difficult time for some of you, but try to stay positive. Please understand that you are playing their game and you can choose not to play. The mature thing to do is to work with the rules instead of spending your time fighting them.

No matter what we think about this, asking about other schools is one of the ways a school can tell what an applicant thinks of their own application. I am sure others will have more pragmatic opinions based on their own experiences, but my advice is to tell the truth - the first time every time.
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Re: How honest should one be about "other schools" in interview [#permalink] New post 24 Feb 2008, 22:10
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Thanks all - The key points to come out of this are :

- Don't be afraid to admit it as long as other choices are sensible ( in my case they are, since all my schools are focused on finance).
- Go into the interview with the view point of why this school is the best one for me - so that I can articulate why this school as opposed to my other choices on the spot.
- Maybe best not to mention the dings ;)
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Re: How honest should one be about "other schools" in interview [#permalink] New post 24 Feb 2008, 22:25
I would agree with the logic about checking for consistency. If you simply list off the top 5 ranked schools, you are probably not helping your case. Whatever list you are using, these schools are undoubtedly very different. Of course, if you actually just went down the list and applied, well... oops.

Anyhow, if they ask you to compare to the other schools, seems pretty unprofessional to me. Since y'all are applying to B-schools you should have the speaking skills to simply give a positive answer about what is good about their school without really addressing it. If I was in an interview and they really pressed it I would simply tell them that I didn't feel it was appropriate to answer and mentally cross of their school. Who wants to go to a place like that. =)
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Re: How honest should one be about "other schools" in interview [#permalink] New post 25 Feb 2008, 00:07
i think you should tell them 2-3 other schools that make sense (similar in ranking, maybe one that's really close to home, etc.). if they ask, i would say that their school is the top choice.

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Re: How honest should one be about "other schools" in interview [#permalink] New post 25 Feb 2008, 08:34
I was asked this by GSB and Kellogg interviewers. I stated only the R1 schools I applied to and some generic reason that met all three schools criteria. Location (job opportunities for the Mrs.), quality and rep of the program, career prospects post grad in my desired field, etc...in general you can find half a dozen things that are almost the same at every peer school. Then I used the things that differntiate the schools as why that school was my top choice, this was more of the "fit" criteria. I think my fit reasons for Kellogg were better because I had a clearer idea of the student culture (they are very proud of that) but I still think I was fairly convincing for GSB. I also stated that I hadn't finalized where I would apply R2 but that if I was admitted to school X, I would be withdrawing all R2 applications since my R1 schools were my top three choices.

Obviously its an easy question if you apply to schools that are on equal level. Had I interviewed at BU and explained why I applied there and then 3 M7s that woudl be a much tougher sell on them being my top choice. Nervous did a smart thing by leaving out the schools that were far above the rest of her apps in terms of brand name. Your reasons need to make sense, you cant say I want Tuck and NYU because of location since they couldnt be any more different. Or Tuck and Wharton because of the size of the student body. In reality you can easily read the brochures for all the schools and find similar stuff in them so just use that. Then find the things that seperate that school and sell those as why its your top choice.
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Re: How honest should one be about "other schools" in interview [#permalink] New post 25 Feb 2008, 10:27
It's very interesting that in my 3 interviews (Haas, Anderson, Kellogg), NONE of the interviewers asked me which other schools I applied to. In fact, they were very deliberate in not mentioning any names. The questions would all be in the vein of, "We know most people apply to more than 1 school, but please tell us what characteristics you look for in the schools you've applied to."

I was very impressed by their avoidance of asking "what other schools have you applied to", to say the least. But if I were asked that point blank, I would probably list some peer schools (partial truth) and make sure those schools have similar qualities as the one I'm interviewing with.
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Re: How honest should one be about "other schools" in interview [#permalink] New post 28 Feb 2008, 08:35
Be HONEST. But that's not all!

I was honest in my interview with Cornell (having no reason to tell the otherwise; Johnson School is truly my top choice). Having been asked which other school I was applying to, I told them frankly I was applying to Cornell Program in Real Estate, and planning on applying to NYU School of Continuing and Professional Studies, also in Real Estate. (I ended up my applications with Cornell Johnson School and Program in Real Estate, and let go the NYU application, I was exhausted with applications). So I was totally with Cornell. That went fine and I got admitted to Johnson School with a fellowship.

Three days ago I was admitted to the Program in Real Estate with some awards, and the Director advised me to participate in the Dual Degree, which I knew from the beginning but did not really care about, given my finance shortage, especially when I wasn't sure about admission and/or financial aids in anywhere.

Now the situation holds that I can get an MBA and an MPS (Master of Professional Studies) from the three-year Dual Degree, with the sum of all fellowships, awards and GTRS to help financing the program. I was excited with the newly-found opportunity. I emailed to both schools asking about the procedure of enrollment for Dual Degree...

And Johnson School immediately responded with a heavy email, questioning if I mislead them in the interview, indicating nothing about my intention for the Dual Degree, and that if I really intended for the dual degree, I should have indicated from the beginning in my application, not until now when all the finance schedule was made for me, that the dual degree will start from May with the Accelerated MBA instead of general MBA... I was shocked for the whole day, upon receiving their email.

It was my misconception about the dual degree, and perhaps my expressions in emails that caused the whole mess. I am trying to explain clearly to them how the idea of Dual Degree suddenly popped up, not my intention, and I never tried to mislead them with any information. :cry: I emailed them already with all evidence of application timing to both programs. I am going to make a phone call to them, to confirm all information in the email, and to answer any other question they may have. Hope this helps.

How such wonderful things turn out to be so bad? :cry:
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Re: How honest should one be about "other schools" in interview [#permalink] New post 28 Feb 2008, 08:49
kryzak wrote:
It's very interesting that in my 3 interviews (Haas, Anderson, Kellogg), NONE of the interviewers asked me which other schools I applied to. In fact, they were very deliberate in not mentioning any names. The questions would all be in the vein of, "We know most people apply to more than 1 school, but please tell us what characteristics you look for in the schools you've applied to."

I was very impressed by their avoidance of asking "what other schools have you applied to", to say the least. But if I were asked that point blank, I would probably list some peer schools (partial truth) and make sure those schools have similar qualities as the one I'm interviewing with.


Kry - I had the same experience, except that NONE of my interviewers ever asked what other schools I applied to. Granted - all my interviews were with Adcom members, so that might be the reason why.
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Re: How honest should one be about "other schools" in interview [#permalink] New post 28 Feb 2008, 11:58
That's actually quite encouraging to hear kryzak and Steel. And it makes me even more convinced that eventually it's better strategically to interview with adcoms as opposed to alumni!

I personally think this is a very unfair question and a response to it, even in an interview, should be strictly voluntary. For instance, nobody who's first choice is Johnson is going to apply to HBS. And if someone is applying to both HBS and Johnson then he/she is clearly considering Johnson to be a "safety" and no amount of spin is going to convince the Johnson interviewer that although the interviewee has applied to both HBS and Johnson, Johnson is truly his/her #1 choice.

I'd actually be very interested in knowing if anyone has ever simply refused (politely) to answer this question in an interview and gone on to secure admission nonetheless.

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Kry - I had the same experience, except that NONE of my interviewers ever asked what other schools I applied to. Granted - all my interviews were with Adcom members, so that might be the reason why.

Last edited by solaris1 on 28 Feb 2008, 12:36, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: How honest should one be about "other schools" in interview [#permalink] New post 28 Feb 2008, 12:34
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solaris1 wrote:

I'd actually be very interesting in knowing if anyone has ever simply refused (politely) to answer this question in an interview and gone on to secure admission nonetheless.

Steel wrote:


I "politely" refused to answer it directly in one of my Rd2 interviews.

I guess I'll find out if the decision was correct in a couple weeks. The 2nd yr interviewer seemed OK with it.
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Re: How honest should one be about "other schools" in interview [#permalink] New post 28 Feb 2008, 15:19
Done talking with Johnson School. So finally I could make everything clear to them. I am glad that the School was a good listener, after all. They were too panic about my Dual option "from the blue sky" at first. The two schools finally sat down together and work out my case. They actually had a meeting between two schools right before I was scheduled to talk to Johnson.

All in all, I would say, be honest but wise with this question. I am totally with the opinion that the question is meant to check the consistency in your answers. The ego is high in some cases though...
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Re: How honest should one be about "other schools" in interview [#permalink] New post 28 Feb 2008, 17:11
well, just had an informational interview with the Haas career center (they offered 20 minute chats with admitted students to answer any questions). It was a lot of very good information (and more Haas "Kool-Aid"). One interesting thing is, that person was the first one to ever ask me where I am deciding between. And since I'm already admitted, I didn't mind telling her. :)
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Re: How honest should one be about "other schools" in interview   [#permalink] 28 Feb 2008, 17:11
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