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Tuck is one of the only top schools that allow for open interviews–Kellogg is the other.  With Tuck it’s a bit tricky, because the student may be visiting for the first time on the very day of their interview. So prospective Tuckies have to be enthusiastic and prepared, even though they are seeing the school and feeling its vibe for the first time.

A current second-year student wrote this post with good advice for those who are coming to interview.  And don’t forget, open interview season only lasts a few months, sign up before the window closes.

The student, Ken F., Tuck ‘12 gives a number of caveats that he is only giving his opinion, but he’s underestimating himself. A member of the Tuck admissions office tweeted to me that she had interviewed Ken herself,  when he was applying, and found these recommendations to be pretty darn good.

In summary:

  1. Wear business attire.  Most do.
  2. Follow Dale Carnegie’s tips to smile and be likeable
  3. Make sure your story is concise, plausible, and genuine
  4.  Research the school not to show off, but to know why you are there
  5. Make connections! (exclamation point mine)
  6. Be yourself.  Hokey, but oh so true

Here’s the link, and for the lazy, the post in its entirety.  Go north!

Tips for Interview Season

Mishi asked a question on this post about what tips I had for applicants in the upcoming admissions interview season. Three points before I tackle the meat of this question:

A) I appreciate Mishi’s question, and would encourage anyone reading this to ask questions. It’s probably more useful if I write about what you want to hear: left to my own devices, there’s a significant risk of me growing misty eyed about Tuck Rugby ad nauseum.

B) I am not involved in admissions at Tuck in any official capacity, so everything I say here is my personal opinion, and may deviate from the admissions office’s view (though, hopefully not dramatically).

C) I have surprisingly little interview experience, given the stage of my career. (I worked all the way through my four years as an undergraduate and for six years afterwards and have had, cumulatively, fewer than a dozen interviews in my life).

With those caveats, here are my top (well, most mentally proximate) five tips for MBA admissions interviews:

1) Dress smartly. Most candidates come to campus dressed in business formal and, in that respect (even if in few others) I believe it’s best not to stand out too much from the crowd of other applicants.

2) Read Dale Carnegie. If you don’t have time, here’s the lowdown: smile lots, don’t criticize, be genuinely “hearty in your approbation and lavish in your praise” (but not sycophantic).

3) Know your story. If you are not totally passionate about where you want to go and why the program at the business school you are applying to will help you get there, as well as how your presence at the school will make it a better place for others to be, I don’t think you should be looking at a top MBA program. Make sure your story is concise, plausible and, to the greatest extent possible, genuine.

4) Do research beforehand. Know about programs, courses, centers, etc. Not so you can show off, but so that you can have more meaningful discussions and ask more pertinent and informed questions. This links in to point 3). If you don’t know why this school will help you get where you want to go, why are you considering spending six figures and investing two years of your life?

5) Make connections. Follow up with fellow visitors, admissions staff, students and faculty you meet. This may help you unlock the door to the school of your dreams but at the very least it expands your network, which is, after all, a big part of the business school process.

Most crucially, and underlying all of these points, is to be yourself. If your favorite book is Harry Potter and someone asks you in an interview what your favorite book is, don’t say “Great Expectations” because you think you’ll sound smart. Be passionate about what makes you who you are. Tell them “Harry Potter!” with an emphatic smile and explain why you love it.

Good luck!