Sunday, January 29, 2012

Columbia interview recap

Earlier in this blog I promised to give a recap of the questions I was asked in my Columbia interview. Overall, I thought it was a very pleasant experience, though it was pretty quick (we scheduled 45 minutes but it only lasted about 25). I guess I must have still left a good impression and/or the interview didn't make a difference, because I got the acceptance call a couple weeks later.

Below are the questions I was asked, along with my own assessment of how I think I did:

  • Walk me through your resume, starting with when you graduated from college
    • My grade: B+
    • I think I did a good job smoothly transitioning from experience to experience, but I also added in some stuff that wasn't asked, like why I chose my college, and why I went into the industry instead of grad school.
  • Why do you want an MBA?
    • My grade: A
    • At the end of my answering this question, my interviewer said "wow, you have really clear goals"
  • What were you looking for when you were picking business schools to apply to?
    • My grade: A
    • I picked one really good aspect of business school (one that Columbia happens to really care about) and made the connection between my current career, post-MBA goals, and business school.
  • What about Columbia is different than the other schools you're considering?
    • My grade: C
    • I rambled pretty horribly here, basically restating the response from the previous question. I probably should be giving myself a C-.
  • What kind of research have you done on CBS since you decided to apply to business school?
    • My grade: A-
    • Didn't impress anyone here, but I talked about how I visited several times and have spoken to current students and alumni. I told a funny story about how I crashed an information session with a couple of my friends.
  • Tell me about a time you faced adversity in your personal or professional life.
    • My grade: A+
    • I picked a really significant personal experience in my life, conveyed it in a heartfelt way (I'd told this story to close friends in the past, so it came off naturally and genuinely), and discussed how it has influenced me as a person and leader. My interviewer gave me a lot praise for my response.
  • What is your greatest accomplishment?
    • My grade: B-
    • Meh. After talking through the adversity in the previous question, my answer here kinda fell flat. I rambled quite a bit, and I think I used a little too much jargon.
  • What are you like in teams?
    • My grade: D- or F
    • This is what most people would call a "flub". I was really thrown off by this question, and said something incredibly generic, without any examples. It's like I lost the ability to communicate for five minutes. I then ended it abruptly, and then opened my mouth as if I was about to say something. My interviewer nodded in anticipation, but nothing came out - I literally finished my response mid-sentence.
  • Back-up plan?
    • My grade: A-
    • My backup plan was feasible, evolved clearly from my skills and experiences, and mostly aligned to my goals. I made a point of saying that an MBA is the best path for my goals, but that this would serve as a good backup plan. I didn't blow my interviewer out of the water with this, but I checked all the boxes.
  • Ethical dilemma?
    • My grade: B
    • I rambled a bit when I discussed the dilemma. I think I tried too hard to make it sound like a moral/internal conflict, because when I first described the situation, it came off pretty black & white and not really as a "dilemma". I was able to salvage my response in the end, but I didn't talk as smoothly as I wanted.

So there you have it. I hope this is helpful to people still thinking about interviewing. I perhaps graded myself a bit harshly, given that I was ultimately accepted. But I think self-reflection is important here, because I still have more interviewers to come and I want to learn from my mis-steps as much as possible.

My year-end review was delayed (AGAIN). Hopefully I'll come back with some good news on that front.

More later.

Friday, January 27, 2012

In at Columbia!!!

Just got my first acceptance - holy smokes. I got a phone call from the admissions office congratulating me and giving me an update on next steps. Really amped up right now. I got into AT LEAST one of my business schools.

Lucky that it's Friday - time to celebrate.

More later.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Invited to interview at Chicago

I was just invited to interview with Chicago - totally stoked about it. I almost felt like it wouldn't come, given that I wasn't part of the first wave of invites yesterday. Right now I'm 2/2 with interview invites, but Harvard, Stanford, and Wharton are yet to come!

Text from the invite is below:
Dear Applicationist,
Congratulations!  We have evaluated your application and are extending an invitation for you to interview with us in the next phase of our admissions process.
I'll let you know if Wharton shows me some love.

More later.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Columbia application status: complete

I just got a notification saying that my application status at Columbia is "complete". This means that they've received my interview report and will probably render a decision in the next week or so. Keeping my fingers crossed for this one.

Hopefully I'll come back next week with some good news on:
  • Columbia's final decision
  • Interview invites at Wharton and Chicago
  • My year-end performance review at that thing that I still go to from 9-9 every day... oh yeah: work.
More later.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

My Columbia interview was short, but was it sweet?

Just had my CBS interview last week. It was supposed to be 45 minutes long but only lasted between 25-30. The interviewer was very nice and enthusiastic, but basically went from question to question with little commentary in between. It didn't feel as personal as I thought it would be, given my interviewer's personality and assurance that the interview would be very informal.

I'll post the questions from my interview after my decision is rendered, which should be in a couple of weeks.

For now, I'll be waiting for potential interview invites at the other schools. My year-end review at my job is also coming up, so I'll get to know my pay raise and promotion potential by then.

Hopefully it all works out!

More later.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

And now we wait

In the last week I submitted Harvard and Stanford. I sent Stanford's app with less than an hour to before the deadline, and have never been that down to the wire for any application before, ever. I think their question on "What matters most to you, and why?" was the most challenging personal statement I've ever written. Hopefully it all pans out!

I'll let you know how my Columbia interview goes.

More later.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Getting down to the wire...

I'm about 95% done with my HBS applications and about 50% done with my Stanford essays. With only 16 hours until Harvard's deadline and 48 hours until Stanford's, I know I need to finish up.

At times I wonder to myself "what's the point, you're probably not going to get into these schools anyway." But I guess I don't ever want to be asking myself "what if?" after the process is over. Plus, I know that my recommenders put in some damn hard work into my reference letters, so I want to put them to good use.

Only two more days. Then I can rest and revert back to my normal life (and finally have time to sleep, hang with friends, work out, shave, stay afloat at my job...).

I'll be back after my applications are finished to reflect on the entire process as a whole.

More later.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

3 down, 2 to go...

I just submitted my Wharton Round 2 application. Of all the applications I've submitted so far, I feel the most confident in Wharton. Even though the structure of their essay questions didn't allow me to say that much about my unusual life story, maybe they structured their questions that way because they don't care about no life stories.

Harvard and Stanford are definitely interested, so I'll make sure to slip something in there. Time to put the pedal to the medal on these two - applications are due on Jan 10 and 11 and I haven't finished one essay for either school.

More later.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Chicago application submitted

I finished my Chicago application a few days ago, but I just submitted it now. Now the waiting game begins (Feb 15 is the Chicago mid-decision date). Still need to finish up one more Wharton essay, plus get on to Harvard and Stanford.

More later.