During the next few weeks, we will be publishing the discussions that we had with some of our interviewers about the interviewing process at their business schools to help the prospective applicants. Here is the interview of one of our Stanford GSB interviewers:
1. A bit of background about yourself.
I graduated from Stanford in 2006 with an MBA and an MA in Education, earned through a joint degree program between the Graduate School of Business (GSB) and the School of Education. I completed my undergraduate studies in Computer Science at Princeton University and, between that time and my matriculation at the GSB, I worked as a Software Engineer for five years and earned a graduate degree in Management of Information Technology at the University of Virginia. After my graduation from the GSB, I worked as a Management Consultant at McKinsey & Company for a little more than two years. Following my time at McKinsey, I moved on to a strategic advisory and capital investment firm focused on the Technology and Business Services industries, where I work with portfolio companies of Private Equity firms to improve operational and financial performance.
2. How was your experience at Stanford GSB? Has Stanford GSB met all your career and personal aspirations? What did you like the most at Stanford GSB?
I had an absolutely wonderful experience at Stanford GSB. I went into it knowing that I would learn a lot about business, but I had no idea of how much I would learn about myself, the world around me, and the way that I exist within it. Business school is supposed to be an academic challenge, but, at times, Stanford was an academic, social, intellectual, and emotional challenge all wrapped up into a single package intended to make me a more self-aware, humble, and empathetic business leader (with special emphasis on the term “leader” as opposed to simply being a “manager”). Stanford has helped me achieve my career and personal aspirations and I can honestly say that I would be a totally different person right now if I'd attended another business school. The best part about the GSB experience is the people…from the students to the instructors to the administrators to the alumni, the GSB community is full of people who are willing to open themselves up to enrich the lives of other members of the community, which is something I believe to be truly unique to Stanford GSB among top business schools.
3. What is the importance of interviews in the overall selection process at Stanford GSB? Is it a make or break after the interview? Or, does it form a parameter in the applicant's candidature?
The admissions interview is VERY important in the overall selection process at Stanford GSB. Interviews are granted on an invite-only basis and an applicant has to perform well on an interview in order to gain admission to the school. Once granted, the interview serves as a parameter in the applicant's candidature, but a poor performance on the interview would pretty much wipe out the applicants chances at admission. In other words, it is a “make or break” after the interview for admission to Stanford GSB.
4. How should a potential candidate prepare for the Stanford GSB interviews?
I have never been an alumni admissions interviewer for Stanford GSB, but, if I had to redo my own interview again, I would prepare for it as follows:
- Do your research: Stanford GSB is a business school unlike any other and it is up to each applicant to be able to understand the uniqueness of the school and articulate it during the interview. There are many ways that applicants can research the school, including studying the GSB's website, searching for online resources describing the school, and talking to current students and alumni. While doing this research, applicants should think about how to effectively weave these insights into their answers to the questions that interviewers may ask. Of course, this process should have started while the applicants wrote their essays, but I'd argue that the research should be more intense when preparing for the admissions interview.
- Know your story: As far as I know, alumni interviewers do not see an applicant's essays prior to an admissions interview, but that doesn't mean they can't ask about questions that are on the application. Often, in interview situations, one can identify embellishments or fabrications in a person's story by asking repeated sets of questions to probe for details that may not sound right. In an MBA admissions interview situation, a great risk for the applicant is that a combination of nerves and describing his/her story (or MBA positioning) effectively may make him/her come across as either being unprepared or, even worse, as having embellished/fabricated parts of that story. Devoting significant time to knowing one's story is the best way to address this risk.
- Be confident: Despite the larger number of applicants, one has to be confident in his/her candidacy to improve his/her chances of gaining admission to target schools. Some interviewers may ask probing questions to determine whether an applicant truly believes that he/she is a good candidate and is deserving of a place in the upcoming class. If a candidate shows doubt in that regard, the interviewer really has no reason to believe that the applicant is a strong enough applic
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