This is the second part of the interview with Nataliia Shavrina, a Yale SOM successful applicant and MBA Strategy Client. The first part was published earlier this week.
MBA Admissions Process
The process is basically the same as in other schools: GMAT, essays, and an interview. Regarding English language requirements, I passed the IELTS during my Bachelor’s studies, and the results were valid at the moment of application. However, Yale does not require any test results, evaluating each applicant’s knowledge of English through video and live interviews. Moreover, video-interviews demonstrate candidate’s behavior in stressful situations and reveal particular personal qualities.
The thing is that you enter the interview program, and the camera turns on. You have no idea about the questions until the very last moment. There will be three of them: you will have 20 seconds to prepare and one minute to answer for the first and the third questions, and 30 seconds and 1,5 minutes for the second one respectively. As a result, the adcom will receive a kind of a video-essay. Some questions were pretty basic, touching your reasons for applying and the school itself: “Why are you pursuing an MBA?” or “What are you going to do during the studies?”. Others are trickier, like “If you have one million dollars, what will you do?”.
As for the GMAT, it is considered the most challenging part of the process, but not because of the difficult tasks, but due to the strict time limits and high intensity. It is truly hard to stay concentrated for 4,5 hours, and after the exam, I was totally worn out. I guess there should be an additional evaluation scale in the test – for persistence and patience. Despite having no time to prepare thoroughly, I luckily got 720 points on the first try. The secret is to get into in-depth principles of the tasks and apply unconventional thinking. It may take several minutes to resolve an equation using standard methods, while a short alternative formula will lead to the clue in 15 seconds. Certainly, it is good to know such tricks.
What was much more challenging for me than the GMAT, were the essays, as there were no tricks, no templates, and no formulas. On the contrary, you should avoid clichés to succeed and stand out with your unique qualities. You should try to raise the interest of the committee and not to be just another applicant among many others. You never know what will impress them more, that is why you should try to recollect all meaningful experiences, even short ones. Besides, demonstrate that your life before an MBA, your knowledge and skills acquired, prepared you for a business school. Next, I think that there should be a person who will review your essays before submitting. It is hard to evaluate whether you delivered your motivation and goals clearly and answered the question stated in the initial topic.
Do not forget about your social activities. Yale’s mission is “Educating Leaders for Business and Society”, and they value it a lot. You can mention such activities in the application form, particularly when answering the short questions (50-100 words), or in your CV. Basically, your resume will be a snapshot of your achievements, not only work-related but also the academics, such as intellectual competitions, publications or scientific papers. Give details about your measurable results – this will definitely add weight to your application.
The final stage is an interview, where about 20% applicants are invited. Then about 50% of them will receive an offer, and this is an opportunity no one wants to miss. Similar to the video interview, some questions may be standard, and some are tricky. For instance, I had to resolve a logical puzzle – it was suggested by a Professor in Statistics, who interviewed me together with one of the Admissions Officers. By the way, it was a Skype interview, and another piece of advice here is to keep an eye contact, which would show both your interest and feelings. Do not panic – it is impossible to be prepared for everything. Relax, be honest and give examples – in such a way the committee will see that you have a lot to tell and therefore a lot to contribute to the community.
Top tips from Nataliia
First and foremost, you should decide whether you really want an MBA. If it is truly important for you, you will certainly manage to get to the point. Even though some situations seem to be impossible to resolve, it is just an illusion. Try again, ask for advice, and build connections with the school, admissions officers and scholarship foundations. Articulate your intentions and concerns, be persistent, and never give up.