Category Archives: Michigan Ross Advice

Michigan Ross Director on Interviewing, Team Exercise

This weekend, on-campus interviews kick off at University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business. Director of MBA Admissions and Financial Aid Soojin Kwon has some reminders for MBA applicants on how to shine during your …

This weekend, on-campus interviews kick off at University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business. Director of MBA Admissions and Financial Aid Soojin Kwon has some reminders for MBA applicants on how to shine during your interview, and also shares Ross’s perspective on why the team exercise, though optional, is so important.

Based on their experience with Round 1 interviews, the admissions committee is stressing the following points for the next round of interviewees:

  1. Make your answers clear and succinct. This is an important skill. But don’t come across as scripted.
  2. Answer the questions that are asked. This will differentiate the scripted interviewees from those who aren’t. It’ll also demonstrate listening and thinking skills.
  3. Do your research. Know why Ross, why XYZ career (pre- and post-MBA).
  4. Don’t agonize over how you can differentiate yourself, or the fact that you work in a non-business field. If you tell your unique story, and follow Tips 1 – 3, you’ll go a long way towards making a positive impression.

How you present yourself, and your ability to react and respond gracefully in unfamiliar situations, weigh heavily in both the MBA admissions process and later on when recruiting kicks up. Kwon points to data collected by the Graduate Management Admission Counsel’s most recent Corporate Recruiters Report, which indicates that employers consider communication as the most important skill set for new graduate business school hires.

Finally, the director offers some frank advice about the currently optional team exercise. “Opting-in sends us some important positive signals: (1) that you embrace opportunities to shine; (2) that you are comfortable with ambiguity, since you can’t control the team exercise experience; and, (3) finding the right fit is important to you,” says Kwon, noting that MBA recruiters are also looking for these qualities.

From our perspective as MBA admissions consultants, you should never pass up the opportunity for face time with the admissions committee. Allowing them to get to know the real you, beyond the version on paper, is critical to your chances of receiving an offer of admission.

Good luck!

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Group Interview Advice from Michigan Ross Admissions Director

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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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 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.

This year Ross changed the essay questions significantly to focus on what you are most proud of both personally and professionally. While previous years’ essays focused on career goals and why MBA, this year the questions require introspection and a demonstration that you learn from experience.

Essay One: What are you most proud of professionally and why? What did you learn from that experience? (400 words)

Intellectual ability, professional achievements and teamwork are all among the qualities the Ross admissions committee is looking for in applicants. As you consider topics for this essay focus on the ones that will demonstrate you are a strong leader and that you can learn from experience.

One possible source of ideas are 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 the most challenging projects you have been part of? Have you been surprised by what you have done well at in your career?

In some cases you may be most proud of an accomplishment because of what you learned and how it shaped your career. In other cases the follow up questions are two separate components of the essay. Either way the why behind your pride in accomplishment will reveal what you value most – whether prestige, credit, or the motivation to achieve your goals. Make sure that your values are aligned with how you want to be perceived by the admissions committee.

Essay Two: What are you most proud of personally and why? How does it shape who you are today? (400 words)

The personal is equally important to Michigan Ross, and the MBA program is designed to help you develop your leadership skills both in terms of professional accomplishment and personal and community interests. The personal attributes the admissions committee are looking for in applicants include community engagement and interpersonal, communication and teamwork skills.

When you consider topics for this essay you may want to write about an important extracurricular accomplishment, a challenge you overcame, or an event in your life that highlights something unique about your background. For example, if you have a track record of club leadership through college and afterwards that can be compelling evidence of your community engagement and leadership skills. On the other end of the spectrum perhaps you have spent time outside your home country for school or work and that has shaped your teamwork, interpersonal and communication skills.

Whatever topic you choose, make sure you are addressing why it is important to you. What you learned and how you have used what you learned since in your life can offer invaluable insight as well.

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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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.”

***

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 adviceLike 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 BusinessThe 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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