Category Archives: Michigan Ross Advice

Group Interview Advice from Michigan Ross Admissions Director

As many readers know, the University of Michigan Ross School of Business will introduce a group exercise as an optional component of the upcoming MBA application season. It’s not actually an interview, per se, because …

Ross admissions director group interviews

As many readers know, the University of Michigan Ross School of Business will introduce a group exercise as an optional component of the upcoming MBA application season. It’s not actually an interview, per se, because no questions will be asked of participants. Through observation of each member’s discussions and communication with the group, the Ross admissions team hopes to glean deeper insight into each applicant’s teamwork and interpersonal skills.

One-on-one interviews weren’t giving the admissions committee enough information to determine how an applicant might engage with others, and the school believes this new component with fill in those blanks. Predictably, this new format has generated some anxiety among applicants, and Ross admissions director Soojin Kwon attempts to quell fears and demystify the process in a recent posting on her MBA blog titled, “Don’t fear the group interview.”

The entire exercise lasts about 30 minutes, with the first ten used for introductions and an icebreaker within your group of four to six people, Kwon explains in an accompanying video. Then, each participant receives two random words to weave into a 60-second story that you’ll share within your group. You’ll then spend the remaining 20 minutes connecting all of the word-pairs into a business challenge and solution that you’ll present to the observers.

How you manage yourself within the group is the sole focus of the observers, so it doesn’t matter if your fellow participants are “weak”, or whether you’ve landed in a “bad” group. How you interact within the team, and how you interact with people who have different styles than you, will be foremost on the observers’ radar, Kwon explains.

As noted, the group exercise is completely optional. In Round 1, team exercises will take place only in Ann Arbor. In Round 2, they’ll be held in Ann Arbor and most likely in Seoul, Shanghai, Beijing and Delhi.  International applicants who want to participate in a team exercise should plan to visit Ann Arbor in Round 1, or apply in Round 2 and attend one of the sessions in the above cities.

“Not participating won’t hurt you in the admissions process,” the director clarifies. “But you’ll be missing another opportunity to make a positive impression. If I wanted to go to Ross, I’d do it.”

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If you have been invited to interview with a school that is using the group interview format, you will absolutely want to take advantage of Stacy Blackman’s live group practice session. This format can be fun, but also challenging and stress inducing! Success comes from practice and becoming comfortable with the format.

We’ll have dedicated groups of 3-6 people for Wharton and Ross, with experienced moderators and admissions experience. You’ll receive preparation tips and a one-hour mock experience, followed by written feedback with actionable advice. For more on this new service, click here.

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Michigan Ross MBA Essay Tips

Michigan Ross is a program that emphasizes learning both inside and outside the classroom, and is seeking candidates that are intellectually curious and able to accomplish their goals. At the same time, fit is a …

Michigan Ross is a program that emphasizes learning both inside and outside the classroom, and is seeking candidates that are intellectually curious and able to accomplish their goals. At the same time, fit is a crucial part of the Ross evaluation process and Ross wants to know that you have investigated the program thoroughly and know why you want to attend. When you are approaching this set of essays, think carefully about how you will best illustrate your fit with the Michigan MBA program.

Essay 1
Introduce yourself to your future Ross classmates in 100 words or less.

The first thing to ask yourself is what you would want to know about your future classmates as potential teammates and friends? That is the information you should communicate here. If you have worked on your application strategy and thought about your personal branding, this question is just one part of the whole. You will be discussing career goals and other professional aspects of yourself in the next few essays, so this is your opportunity to tell your future classmates something about you as a person. Do you have a unique background you will be able to share with your classmates? What about hobbies and personal accomplishments? Think about this question as the “elevator pitch” to adcomm, and one that should be more personal than professional.

Essay 2
What about your professional experiences has led you to determine that business school is the right next step? (150 words)

As you have researched MBA programs, what actions have you taken to learn more about Ross and what has led you to believe that Ross is the right MBA program for you? (150 words)

What career do you plan to pursue after business school and why? (150 words)

The changes to this career goals question for Ross demonstrate that each part of this question is equally important and requires individual attention. While there are distinct sections, the overall narrative of “why MBA, why Ross” should be cohesive.

When you consider your professional experiences and what has led you to pursue an MBA think about the inflection points in your career. When did you face a turning point or make a big decision about your career? What were some of your proudest accomplishments? With a limit of 150 words you will want to clearly encapsulate this progression and why they led to business school.

Why Ross is a crucial part of this essay question and is focused on separately in the second part of this essay. Ross is an important part of the equation, and some portion of the essay should focus on coursework, clubs and people who may help you achieve your goals while at Ross. Research on Ross should include both basic online resources and speaking with current students, alumni and anyone else you know in the Ross community. The personal connections you make will show both interest in Ross and give you unique perspective on why Ross is the right program for you specifically.

The third part of the question asks about the career path you plan to pursue after Ross. Think about the goal that will represent the pinnacle of your career in the next 10-20 years as your overall aim and then you can work backwards to the step you will take immediately after Ross to get there. This goal should be a vision of your future career that is both aspirational and possible with your background and a Ross MBA.

Essay 3
Describe a time in your career when you were frustrated or disappointed. What advice would you give to a colleague who was dealing with a similar situation? (400 word maximum)

Behavioral questions like this one are meant to illustrate how you have acted in situations in the past, as a predictor of future behavior. Your answer should be concise but detailed, and clearly lay out both the situation and what you did and thought as you navigated the outcome.

Often a tough experience is an excellent learning opportunity and contributes to your growth and development. Don’t be afraid to admit that you have faced frustration and disappointment, because you are only human. The important part of this story is how you reacted and what you learned. Think about the type of person who will be successful in a Michigan MBA program and as a manager and a leader. What skills do you share with a strong leader, and were any formed during a challenging interpersonal situation like this?

The second part of the question asks what you would advise a colleague in a similar situation, which is just another way to ask you what you learned. Think about the lessons you have taken from this challenge and may have applied since. Perspective and clarity about the frustration or disappointment will demonstrate maturity and self-awareness.

Optional Essay
Is there anything not addressed elsewhere in the application that you would like the Admissions Committee to know about you to evaluate your candidacy? (300 word maximum)

If there are any areas of concern, this is the correct place to address them. Strike an upbeat tone here and avoid excuses. Explain your issue clearly and focus most of the essay on the correction for the issue. For example, if you had a disciplinary issue in college, spend most of the issue demonstrating that you learned from the experience and have been an ideal citizen ever since.

If you do not have a weakness to address here, it’s an ideal opportunity to provide any information that you were unable to work into the other three essays. If you have an unusual background, hobby or extracurricular experience, this may be an opportunity to provide that information to the admissions committee.

Stacy Blackman Consulting has worked with successful candidates to Michigan Ross for over a decade and can offer comprehensive strategic advice every step of the way. Contact us to learn more.

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Admissions Updates from UM Ross School of Business

Like most admissions departments, the AdCom folks at UM Ross School of Business have been busy, busy, busy as they wind up the final week of review before the March 15th decision date for Round …

UM Ross round two advice

Like most admissions departments, the AdCom folks at UM Ross School of Business have been busy, busy, busy as they wind up the final week of review before the March 15th decision date for Round Two applicants.

Director of Admissions Soojin Kwon Koh recently shared two important updates on the Ross Admissions Blog. Of great interest for future applicants will be the results of the pilot group interview exercise.

In January, her team traveled to China to test out a supplemental group interview process between current students, alumni, and applicants designed to provide further insight into candidates’ interpersonal and communication styles, as well as fit with the UM Ross learning community.

While the participants were somewhat nervous about their performance in this new interview format, Kwon Koh notes that by the end, the feedback on the experience was quite positive.

“The reality with one-on-one interviews is that candidates are generally well-prepared for them,” Kwon Koh acknowledges. “We know that candidates get coaching from consultants or friends, and rehearse many of the expected questions. Because of all this, the people we meet in one-on-one interviews are sometimes quite different from the people who end up sitting in the classroom and working on team projects.”

This year, the supplemental group interview was not a requirement for admission but was highly recommended. UM Ross will assess the contribution of the group interviews and tackle the challenge of scaling it should they decide to roll it out more broadly next year, the admissions director says.

For waitlisted candidates, Kwon Koh explains that the admissions committee includes a re-review of Round One waitlisted candidates in its Round Two review. While there’s too many variables in play to say what one’s chances of getting in might be, the director urges those on the waitlist to take heart, as UM Ross does admit many people off the waitlist each year.

In the past, UM Ross has explained that the number of students admitted from the waitlist varies from year to year depending on a variety of factors.  The number of people on the waitlist itself fluctuates throughout the cycle as individuals’ circumstances change.

The best advice is to be patient—admittedly a difficult task while you’re playing the waiting game. Hang in there, though. The end is near!

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R1 Interview Update From UM Ross Michigan MBA Program

The UM Ross School of Business just issued its first wave of Round 1 interview invitations on Tuesday,  and the admissions director of the Michigan MBA program, Soojin Kwon, has some advice and updates for …

UM Ross School of Business

The UM Ross School of Business just issued its first wave of Round 1 interview invitations on Tuesday,  and the admissions director of the Michigan MBA program, Soojin Kwon, has some advice and updates for students gearing up for their upcoming interview.

For candidates who have already received an invitation, as well as individuals who receive one during the second wave going out on November 12th, Kwon urges logging onto the online scheduler as soon as you receive your invitation for maximum scheduling options.

The first interview period runs from today, October 25th until November 20th; the second one is November 15th to December 2nd.  As a reminder, there is no correlation between when you are invited to interview and likelihood of admission.

While all interview types are weighed equally, Kwon highly recommends in-person interviews over Skype interviews if at all possible to ensure better quality and flow to the interview conversation.  If you must interview via Skype, don’t worry, Kwon assures, as it will not reflect poorly on you and carries the same weight as on”“campus or local alumni interviews.

Candidates should note that the admissions interview is intended as a “fit” interview, so you should approach it with the same seriousness and preparation you would a job interview. A few years ago, Kwon shared five MBA interview tips with applicants, so be sure to revisit those if you’re applying to UM Ross.

Finally, the admissions director relays that Round 1 decisions will be released on December 20.

If you’re in the midst of preparing your application for the UM Ross Round 2 deadline coming up on January 3, 2013, read Stacy Blackman’s complete Michigan Ross Advice section for essays tips, application updates and more!

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Think of Your Resume Like a Movie Trailer, Advises UM Ross Admissions Director

“For me, the resume is just as important as your essays,” Soojin Kwon, admissions director at the University of Michigan Ross School of Business, recently wrote on her blog. Wednesday, October 10th is the round …

“For me, the resume is just as important as your essays,” Soojin Kwon, admissions director at the University of Michigan Ross School of Business, recently wrote on her blog. Wednesday, October 10th is the round one deadline, so there’s no time like the present to weigh how your resume stacks up against her expectations.

Here are the three tips she passed on to applicants:

1. A good resume takes time.

“I find that many applicants don’t take enough care with their resumes,” Kwon said, perhaps dashing off  something that might suffice if you were applying for a job in your industry. This is yet another chance to tell your story, but it most be done with brevity and in a way that engages the reader. No industry jargon, please! “It should be clear and concise, yet detailed enough to give us an idea of your skills, experiences and interests,” Kwon explained.

2. Quality trumps quantity.

For applicants concerned their resume is on the thin side, Kwon stressed that the admissions committee is looking not at the number of years worked but on the quality of that professional experience. Ross wants to see what skills you’ve gained and the contributions you’ve made.

3. Fear not, ye poets!

For UM Ross, like most top business schools, the beauty of creating a diverse class comes from pulling together compelling candidates from all sorts of undergraduate backgrounds—which includes those from liberal arts or other such “non-business” degrees. Class discussions would fizzle pretty quickly if everyone in the group came from just one or two industries or majors.

“How you describe your experiences matters. What you choose to highlight matters,” said Kwon. “Think of it as a trailer for the movie about you. It doesn’t need to be flashy and exciting. It needs to show that there’s substance there.”

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For more UM Ross advice, see our tips for approaching this year’s Ross MBA essay questions.

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Tuesday Tips: Michigan Ross MBA Essay Tips

Michigan Ross is a program that emphasizes learning both inside and outside the classroom, and is seeking candidates that are intellectually curious and able to accomplish their goals. At the same time, fit is a …

Michigan Ross is a program that emphasizes learning both inside and outside the classroom, and is seeking candidates that are intellectually curious and able to accomplish their goals. At the same time, fit is a crucial part of the Ross evaluation process and several questions in this essay set focus on your value to the Ross community. When you are approaching this set of essays, along with career goals and leadership experiences, think carefully about how you will best illustrate your fit with the Michigan MBA program.

Essay 1
Introduce yourself to your future Ross classmates in 100 words or less.

The first thing to ask yourself is what you would want to know about your future classmates as potential teammates and friends? That is the information you should communicate here. If you have worked on your application strategy and thought about your personal branding, this question is just one part of the whole. You will be discussing career goals and other professional aspects of yourself in the next few essays, so this is your opportunity to tell your future classmates something about you as a person. Do you have a unique background you will be able to share with your classmates? What about hobbies and personal accomplishments? Think about this question as the “elevator pitch” to adcomm, and one that should be more personal than professional.

Essay 2
Describe your career goals. How will an MBA from Ross help you to achieve those goals? (300 word maximum)

To keep this career goals essay concise and focused think about the high points that will provide the relevant context to your goals. When did you face a turning point or make a big decision about your career? What were some of your proudest accomplishments?

When you describe your goals it will be important that they are both aspirational and credible. Because you are investing in an MBA from Michigan, you will want to show how your career goals warrant the time and money you will spend. A promotion to the next level is not enough of a reason to spend two years at the Michigan MBA program, but perhaps your goal to run the company one day is. Think about the goal that will represent the pinnacle of your career in the next 10-20 years, and then describe any other sub-goals that will help you get there. Ross is an important part of the equation, and some portion of the essay should focus on coursework, clubs and people who may help you achieve your goals while at Ross.

Essay 3
Describe a time in your career when you were frustrated or disappointed. What advice would you give to a colleague who was dealing with a similar situation? (500 word maximum)

Behavioral questions like this one are meant to illustrate how you have acted in situations in the past, as a predictor of future behavior. Your answer should be concise but detailed, and clearly lay out both the situation and what you did and thought as you navigated the outcome.

Often a tough experience is an excellent learning opportunity and contributes to your growth and development. Don’t be afraid to admit that you have faced frustration and disappointment, because you are only human. The important part of this story is how you reacted and what you learned. Think about the type of person who will be successful in a Michigan MBA program and as a manager and a leader. What skills do you share with a strong leader, and were any formed during a challenging interpersonal situation like this?

The second part of the question asks what you would advise a colleague in a similar situation, which is just another way to ask you what you learned. Think about the lessons you have taken from this challenge and may have applied since. Perspective and clarity about the frustration or disappointment will demonstrate maturity and self-awareness.

Essay 4
What are you most passionate about and why? How will this passion positively impact Ross (300 word maximum)

Since you have only 300 words to discuss both your passion and how you will bring your passions to Ross, you may want to focus on one aspect of your personal, professional or extracurricular life that really excites you.

If the open ended prompt is intimidating you can try brainstorming over a period of a few days. Ask friends and family what most excites you when you go about your day to day life. Keep a notebook by your bed so you can record your first thoughts upon waking up, or dreams that might help you understand your passions.

Having done your research on Michigan MBA’s academics and resources will help you answer the question about how you will positively impact Ross with your passion. Think about clubs and conferences that are unique to the Michigan MBA and might be in your area of interest. This question seeks to understand your unique value as a member of the community. Can you share your career expertise? Your network? Personal hobbies or skills? Think again about what you would want from a future classmate and apply that filter to your specific passion.

Optional Essay
Is there anything else you think the Admissions Committee should know about you to evaluate your candidacy? (500 word maximum)

If there are any areas of concern, this is the correct place to address them. Strike an upbeat tone here and avoid excuses. Explain your issue clearly and focus most of the essay on the correction for the issue. For example, if you had a disciplinary issue in college, spend most of the issue demonstrating that you learned from the experience and have been an ideal citizen ever since.

If you do not have a weakness to address here, it’s an ideal opportunity to provide any information that you were unable to work into the other three essays. If you have an unusual background, hobby or extracurricular experience, this may be an opportunity to provide that information to the adcomm.

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