This is part 6 of a series featuring b-school advice gleaned from one of Manhattan GMAT’s own. Until recently, Patty managed marketing and student services for our sister company, Manhattan LSAT. But she chose to return to business school and started at Wharton last fall. She has agreed to share her application experiences with us in a series called, “Patty’s Path to Wharton.”
Read Part 5 here.
This week, we’re chatting with Patty about the admissions interview. She compares the experience”especially when it takes place at a coffee shop”to a first date. You wonder what they look like, but you don’t want to be creepy and you don’t want to ask every person in the cafÃ©. Should I have worn a rose? As for the awkward question of who buys, she says there are two solutions. You can get there early and buy your own, or just pay if you arrive at the same time. Offer politely, but if they say no and insist, that’s fine. Like a date.
As for wardrobe, most of Patty’s interviewers outright told her whether to dress up or down. She wore snow boots to her Wharton interview, because her interviewer, mindful of the raging snowstorm, said to dress for the weather, not him. But when in doubt, dress up. You will never feel like an idiot when you dress up, Patty says. You can always take off your suit jacket and carry it.
It’s important to keep the goal of the admissions interview in mind, Patty says. And it’s also important to remember they don’t want a laundry list of your qualifications, but a sense of your personality and what you’re all about.
I prepared by talking to some of my friends in business school right now and some who had just recently graduated, to see what they wanted to know. What were you looking for in a candidate? The main thing was, Do I want to be in the same study group with this person, and, more importantly, would I want to keep in touch with this person? Really, that’s the purpose”can you speak, and do you have the personality that will fit in the classroom. It’s not a popularity contest, but whether this person will get a lot out of this experience, whether you’re curious and passionate about something. And that’s very different from a job interview and any other interview really.
She adds: It’s important to have a theme or something you want them to take away from the interview. You want interviewers thinking you’re committed to something in particular, some interest or cause you’ll carry forward to enrich the classroom.
When the person is done with the interview they have to take away that Patty is all about doing this. All of your answers, even what you do for fun or what you studied what, have to hone in and emphasize that. So when they are doing their write-up, it’s clear all your responses reflect this theme. It’s about understanding yourself.
Most of all, be prepared to stay cool, collected, and professional, regardless of circumstances. One of Patty’s interviews was spontaneously relocated their agreed-upon Starbucks was inordinately crowded. So her interviewer suggested they move to his office. The change of venue meant a long, fraught elevator ride upstairs. What’s stressful is you’re walking through the lobby and riding in the elevator, so you have to be careful what you talk about, Patty tells us. But she adds that it’s also a nice opportunity for him to get a more casual side of you.
And afterward, send some sort of a thank-you note, whether hand-written or email. But take a few hours to think about it. Don’t be an eager beaver on the BlackBerry afterward”that shows not a lot of thought. Evening or the next morning, so you’ve had some time to reflect.