Interviewers Are Not Out to Trick You

cclay —  April 20, 2010 — 4 Comments

Several news outlets recently wrote about a list of strange questions that you might encounter in a business school admissions interview.

The admissions process is stressful enough without having to worry about which type of tree you think you would be if you were a tree. Thankfully, our partner mbaMission has confirmed that it is very unlikely you will be asked such a question. In fact, they’ve conducted interviews with top admissions officers at Yale, Tuck and Kellogg, and all of the officers said their goal for interviews is to get a feel for the applicants and who they really are. They are not looking for how quickly prospective students can answer strange questions on their toes. A new mbaMission blog posting notes:

We feel that our responsibility as an admissions consulting firm is to calm MBA candidates and keep them focused on what is truly important within the application process. Interviews are not easy, but overwhelmingly the questions are straightforward and will be about you. So, you should be able to rely on your experiences to answer the questions. By entering your interview calmly and staying in your everyday frame of mind, you will be able to thoughtfully address the questions that you are asked. If you can do that, you should perform to the best of your abilities and you may even enjoy your interview.

You can read the rest of the blog post, which includes quotes from interviews with top admissions officers, here.



4 responses to Interviewers Are Not Out to Trick You

  1. Hello,

    Although Jeremy Shinewald’s mbaMission blog does not allow readers to comment and respond to his posts, I would like to respond to his original mbaMission post (and the Manhattan GMAT reprint of it) here.

    Jeremy starts off by saying “Hysteria sells,” and then proceeds to say, “The problem with their piece was that they passed off these questions as if admissions officers were eagerly waiting to ‘use (them) to trip you up,’ stoking anxiety among applicants.” Unfortunately, if hysteria sells, then so must playing fast and loose with the facts.

    Anyone who read the original post (link at the bottom of this comment) would surely have seen our intro, which clearly stated, “Business schools rarely employ the ‘stress interview’ technique, trying to make you squirm and seeing how you perform under pressure. The process is stressful enough, and they’re more interested in getting answers to their questions and getting to know the real you, than in seeing how well you can stand up to stress.”

    We then go on to say, “Just to keep you prepared for the SLIGHT chance that you may encounter these questions, below are ten of the most unusual ones we’ve ever heard.” (Emphasis in caps added here.)

    If Jeremy read this same post and still judged this to be Veritas Prep “passing off these questions” as “as if admissions officers were eagerly waiting to ‘use (them) to trip you up,’” then Jeremy needs to either have his eyes checked or his computers screen thoroughly Windex’d. Obviously we were happy that some news outlets picked up the blog post (which I incidentally wrote on a lark on a busy morning last week), but nothing about the piece was designed to stoke anxiety among applicants.

    Need more proof? Read the final paragraph, after the list:

    “If you encounter such a question, know that how you react to it matters just as much as what your answer is. So, keep your cool, pause for a few moments (Don’t fear silence… it’s a powerful communications tool!), and have fun with your answers.”

    Beyond these arguments, Jeremy’s post seems to miss the fact that many top business schools heavily rely on alumni to conduct their interviews. It’s one thing for admissions officers at top business schools to say (and mean it) that they don’t rely on stress-inducing interview questions, but it’s quite another for them to be able to rein in alumni who — despite the admissions office’s best efforts — often improvise in an interview and can throw in unusual questions. Again, we said this in our blog post (“Most often these come from alumni interviewers…”), but I think I’ve made my point.

    Scott Shrum
    Veritas Prep

  2. This just goes to show that facts are nothing without context. Surely Mr. Shinewald did some fact checking as the speechwriter for the ambassador. So is it now reasonable to think that this is akin to deliberate misrepresentation of the facts? Especially when no primary source was quoted in the response. Will the real Slim Shady please stand up?

    Personally, I don’t give a shit, but did I miss the press conference? I love the official statement on the “blog.” Is this the admissions consulting’s equivalent of breaking into Capone’s vault? Weeeak. How anyone thought this would bode well for a professional services company is beyond my powers of deductive logic. Does this really create positive street cred for an admissions consulting company positioning themselves as above the fray? How about for the admissions consulting industry? Newsflash, there was no fray until those above the fray created the fray which elicited a fray-like response from those who got frayed across the fraying face. Oh, the irony. Don’t get me started on how many peppers Peter picked. At least give me the courtesy of a reach around.

    On a side note, I love how admissions consultants take themselves so seriously. I hope no one reads my reply, so these petty arguments don’t waste anyone’s time when we could actually be addressing the amount of pent up sexual tension across these posts. I feel like I could have written this on a bathroom wall and it would have garnered the same intellectual merit. Can we get an AIGAC rep up in this urinal to regulate? Don’t taze me bro….

  3. Damn, rather interesting info. How will I get your RSS? Send via Iphone

  4. very professional! thanks for sharing. love it!

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