Admission Interview Tips And Insight From University of Michigan
Greetings from sunny Ann Arbor! No blizzard here, which means interviewees won’t have to trudge through mountains of snow this weekend for our first of two on-campus interview days. Here are a few tips for those of you who will be interviewing (regardless of location) based on observations from our Round 1 interviews:
- Make your answers clear and succinct. This is an important skill. But don’t come across as scripted.
- Answer the questions that are asked. This will differentiate the scripted interviewees from those who aren’t. It’ll also demonstrate listening and thinking skills.
- Do your research. Know why Ross, why XYZ career (pre- and post-MBA).
- Don’t agonize over how you can differentiate yourself, or the fact that you work in a non-business field. If you tell your unique story, and follow Tips 1 – 3, you’ll go a long way towards making a positive impression.
These are the same things that I hear from our MBA recruiters. We have both formal and informal conversations with our recruiters across all industries – consulting, high tech, marketing, finance, etc. And their feedback is pretty consistent – it’s not just about how smart you are, or what experience you have. It’s also about how you present yourself, the investment you put into preparation, and your ability to think outside your script.
In a recent survey of 600 companies around the world, including 36 of the Fortune 100 and 32 of the Financial Times 500, GMAC (you know them, the makers of the GMAT) found that employers rated communication as the most important skill set for new graduate business school hires.
Specifically, the top 5 skills were, in order:
- Oral communication
- Listening skills
- Written communication
- Presentation skills and,
Those are skills that are important in business school as well. Numbers 4 and 5 (presentation skills and adaptability) are part of the reason we introduced the team exercise. The other driver was to gauge teamwork skills.
Some of you may be debating whether to opt-in for the team exercise, since it is optional. Here’s the way we see it. Opting-in sends us some important positive signals: (1) that you embrace opportunities to shine; (2) that you are comfortable with ambiguity, since you can’t control the team exercise experience; and, (3) finding the right fit is important to you. These, too, are qualities that MBA recruiters look for.
From an evaluative standpoint, the team exercise gives us another data point in a process that is inherently subjective in nature. The only way to eliminate the subjectivity is to use only test scores and GPAs. That would make for a very different culture and experience; not one that we’d want. We’re building a community of people who will work well together, sometimes under pressure, and share significant life experiences during and after business school. You can’t do that by chasing numbers.
We look forward to learning more about you – the whole person, not just your stats – through your interview, team exercise &/or application.