Category Archives: Stacy Blackman in the News

Tips to Help You Ace Every B-School Interview Format

Whether you’ve already received an interview invitation or are hoping to get an invite over the next few weeks, you want to make sure you’re prepared to do your best when the big day arrives. …

Whether you’ve already received an interview invitation or are hoping to get an invite over the next few weeks, you want to make sure you’re prepared to do your best when the big day arrives. As you might suspect, the admissions interview is the place to convey your talent, drive and personality in a way no written application can match.

Businesswomen shaking hands

By knowing what to expect, you’ll be able to relax and focus your energies on dazzling the interviewer with your professional skills and strengths. But remember, he or she also wants to get a feel for you as a person, to find out how you’d fit in with the school’s unique culture, and how you would contribute as a student if admitted.

Applicants should begin their interview prep by learning their application and resume backward and forward in order to crystallize those professional goals and motivations. Ask yourself these key questions:

  • Can I clearly articulate my career plan and future goals?
  • What is my motivation to obtain an MBA?
  • How do I plan to use my MBA in my career?
  • What do I really want from my MBA experience?
  • Why is X business school the right place for me?
  • What can I bring to this MBA community?
  • Where do I see myself in 5, 10 or 15 years?

Here are three common questions that come up during the one-on-one MBA interview, with some advice on how to respond succinctly and with substance:

1. Tell me about yourself.
My first piece of advice: don’t go on and on. Quickly summarize the highlights of your college years and then move on to your professional career. Explain why you took the roles you did, what your main responsibilities were, and what you enjoyed or took away from each position. If you’ve stayed at the same company for several years, you could talk about how your responsibilities have increased over time.

2. Why do you want to go School X?
If you haven’t discussed your short- and long-term career goals yet, you could begin your response by briefly explaining what you’re hoping to do after graduation. Then you can state the specific skills and knowledge you’ll need to be successful in the future—and how School X can help you fill those gaps.

3. Is there anything else you’d like to add?
The worst thing you could say in response to this question is “No.” Even if you’ve had an hour-long discussion that covered everything under the sun and you’re feeling confident about how things have gone, you still should take this opportunity to reiterate why you’re excited about the program and why you’d be an asset to the incoming class. And, of course, if there’s something specific about your candidacy that you feel could improve your odds and you haven’t been able to discuss it up to this point, now’s the time to do so.

Do You Play Nice with Others? The Group or Team-Based Interview
Business schools want to see how candidates interact with peers before anyone’s even admitted, which can be very telling. 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 admissions team hopes to glean deeper insight into each applicant’s teamwork and interpersonal skills.

Here’s what you don’t want to do during a group interview:

  • Dominate the conversation
  • Cut others off or dismiss someone’s idea entirely
  • Raise your voice
  • Roll your eyes, cross your arms, or display any other kind of negative body language
  • Take out your phone or any other electronic device
  • Here’s what you should try to accomplish:
  • Demonstrate you’ve done your research (if given a topic in advance)
  • Listen—truly listen—to the others in your group when they speak
  • Seize any opportunities to either build upon or refer to someone else’s point
  • Put the group’s goal ahead of trying to get airtime
  • Offer to summarize if the conversation has reached a point where the group would benefit from a quick recap

As many MBA applicants are born leaders who are used to taking charge, you’ll need to be conscious of the fact that you might be surrounded by lots of Type A personalities and adjust your style accordingly. However, if you tend to be on the shy side, don’t let others intimidate you. If no one’s given you the chance to get a word in, you’re going to have to find an appropriate way to join the conversation before it’s too late.

Ready for Your Close-Up? Prepping for the Video Interview
In an era where MBA applicants often come across as overly packaged and polished, an increasing number of MBA programs have started using online video-interview platforms in order to get a better sense of your personality. They’ve seen what you have going for you on paper; a video interview can help them judge whether or not the “real you” matches the impression you’ve built through your other materials. Here are some video-interview tips:

  • Prepare (and practice) succinct responses for all of the typical MBA-related questions: Why Program X, Why an MBA overall, Why now, What are your career goals, Summarize your career to date, and so on.
  • Then add some “fun” questions and responses into the mix: Review the last book you read/movie you saw/TV show you watched; What’s your favorite song and why; Where’s the best place you’ve gone on vacation, et cetera
  • Record yourself answering these questions. Have a trusted friend review your responses and tell you how you’re coming off. Tweak your style accordingly.

When the big moment arrives and it’s time for the real thing, remember that no one is trying to trick you into embarrassing yourself. It’s just another opportunity for you to show what an asset you’ll be to an MBA program. So if you experience technical glitches such as a frozen feed or dropped audio, remember that maintaining your poise and keeping your frustration in check will further help you make a positive impression on your interviewer. Also, dress in appropriate business attire from head to toe. If you need to stand up for any reason during the interview and have nothing but boxers on, rest assured that is an impression the interviewer won’t soon forget.

Mind Your Manners
Finally, don’t forget to send your interviewer a thank-you note or email no later than the following day. Some admission committees need to make accept and denial decisions very quickly, so you shouldn’t let more than 24 hours go by before you send your message. If you interviewed in the morning, send it before the business day is over. If your talk was in the late afternoon or evening, get your email out first thing the next morning.

A word of caution: a thank-you note is not the place to try and sell yourself any further or write another mini-essay. The point is to show that you’re excited about and thankful for the opportunity to be considered for a spot in Program X.

It may sound cliché, but remember to just be yourself, and pay attention to first impressions. The evaluation process of your fit with the program actually starts before you sit down with your interviewer, so you want to make sure that every interaction you have, including with the office staff, is courteous and further adds to a positive impression of your candidacy. If you can show you’re prepared to work well with a team, know exactly how an MBA will benefit your career, and why X school is the best fit for you, you may soon find yourself on the positive side of the highly competitive MBA interview and application process.

This article, written by SBC consultant Sherry Holland, originally appeared on Poets & Quants

Image by Flickr user: CNJ’s photostream (CC BY-NC 2.0) 

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How to Find Your Business School Best Fit: Hear it From the Alumnae

If you plan to be in the New York City area on Thursday November 17th, I invite you to join us for an SBC Consulting-sponsored event, B-School: Finding an A+ Fit. Whether you are currently …

If you plan to be in the New York City area on Thursday November 17th, I invite you to join us for an SBC Consulting-sponsored event, B-School: Finding an A+ Fit.
business school selection

Whether you are currently in the process of applying to business school or would like to share your own experiences, the networking opportunities alone are reason to attend.

Featuring alumnae from The Wharton School, Harvard Business School, Stanford Graduate School of Business and The Kellogg School of Management who went on to become CEOs, founders, and leading brand representatives, this event will showcase these hand-picked, prestigious alumnae and their achievements post-graduation.

The Details

When: Thursday, November 17th from 7:00pm – 8:30pm

Where: WeWork, 300 Park Ave. 12th floor, New York, NY 10022

Admission: $10 | Covers refreshments and snacks

Agenda for the Evening

7:00 – 7:20pm | 20 minutes for networking, drinking & snacking

7:20 – 7:30pm | Welcome and intro of speakers

7:30 – 8:00pm | Q&A

8:00 – 8:15pm | Audience Q & A

8:15 – 8:30pm | Wrap-up & final networking (+ more drinking, snacking)

Featured Speakers

From The Unversity of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School: Lara Crystal, Co-CEO & Co-Founder of Minibar

From Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of MangementJodi Genshaft, Senior Brand Manager at Chobani and Kelsey Recht, CEO & Founder of VenueBook

From Stanford Graduate School of BusinessLaura Holliday, Chief Marketing Officer at Zola

From Harvard Business SchoolJill Applebaum and Jillian Ressler, Co-Founders of Spruce & Co

*****

Get your tickets today and come ready with questions for this intimate evening of networking and discussion!

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Business School Trends in 2015

              The MBA degree continues to evolve, as more and more business schools expand their focus to include greater numbers of women, international opportunities and experiential learning requirements, and …

MBA trends 2015

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The MBA degree continues to evolve, as more and more business schools expand their focus to include greater numbers of women, international opportunities and experiential learning requirements, and new formats like online degree programs and free MOOCs.

Current and prospective applicants always seem interested in the latest trends related to graduate management education. I recently spoke with John Dodig at the education website Noodle to talk about what’s going on in the world of MBA admissions these days, and want to share some excerpts from our conversation here.

You’ve talked about how “white spaces” — or the things between the listed items on someone’s resume — can convey just as important a story as the bullet points on a person’s MBA application. Do you think that your “white spaces” along the way are typical of someone with an MBA?

I think a lot of people apply for MBA programs, and they kinda want to fit into one of four traditional types of jobs — like marketing, consulting, banking, entrepreneurship — and as time goes on, seeds are planted during the program. Whether it’s immediate or gradual, there are often a lot of twists and turns. So, in a way, it’s typical to have a lot of these twists and turns and to end up finding yourself. Yes, I would say I was typical in the sense that there isn’t really any typical.

Do you work with a lot of American students who are interested in going to business school abroad? Or, on the flip side, do you work with a lot of international students interested in studying in the U.S. for an MBA?

We do both, for sure. I would say probably there are more international students who want to come to the U.S. than the reverse, but we’re definitely placing plenty of Americans in international programs. And that is something that I think has grown a lot over the past 10 years — the growth of different types of programs, different options, and the increased popularity of programs outside the U.S.

Is there any big advice that you give to international students who want to come here for business school?

I think there can be challenging logistics for people who are coming from abroad to go to school in the U.S. In the beginning, things are a lot harder, ranging from financial aid, to finding housing, to overcoming some culture shock and finding their way. It’s very common for someone in the States to have friends in their class, you know, people they know from college, or just throughout life. But coming internationally, they may know no one. It can just be more challenging.

My advice would be, in the beginning, be realistic. Take it slow. Being careful and clearing all those hurdles can lead to a very, very rewarding experience.

To read more of my Noodle interview about the state of MBA admissions in 2015, please follow this link to the original article.

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MBA Essay Advice for Harvard Business School

Today’s the Round 1 deadline at Harvard Business School, but if you’re still planning on applying in Rounds 2 or 3, you’ll want to take a look at some of the essay advice I shared …

HBS interview adviceToday’s the Round 1 deadline at Harvard Business School, but if you’re still planning on applying in Rounds 2 or 3, you’ll want to take a look at some of the essay advice I shared in a recent Business Insider article.

Unlike last season, when the essay question was completely open-ended—and optional—this year the school has taken a different tack to see if they can really get to know their applicants.

It now asks:

It’s the first day of class at HBS. You are in Aldrich Hall meeting your “section.” This is the group of 90 classmates who will become your close companions in the first-year MBA classroom. Our signature case method participant-based learning model ensures that you will get to know each other very well. The bonds you collectively create throughout this shared experience will be lasting. Introduce yourself.

The goal of this essay is to know yourself, know HBS, and know how to match the two to demonstrate your fit for the school as you introduce yourself to your classmates. I invite you to read the rest on the article on the Business Insider site for several more important tips on how to successfully market your candidacy for this ultra-elite school.

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My Confessions of an MBA Admissions Consultant

As previously published in Poets & Quants…learn how I helped a client turn a glaring weakness into a point of strength, and successfully parlayed her story into an MBA admit.

As previously published in Poets & Quants…learn how I helped a client turn a glaring weakness into a point of strength, and successfully parlayed her story into an MBA admit.

Posted in Stacy Blackman in the News |

Social Media Influences Curricula, Affects Applicants

MBA students and applicants live and breathe through social media, which is a good thing, considering the growing demand in the business world for employees with honed social media skills. According to a recent Financial …

MBA students and applicants live and breathe through social media, which is a good thing, considering the growing demand in the business world for employees with honed social media skills. According to a recent Financial Times article—which quotes me—this relatively new form of social dialogue is revolutionizing the way business schools interact with applicants, students, companies and alumni.

Social media is a topic that interests me greatly, as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube make up a huge part of my company’s communication efforts and help reinforce my brand reputation. Last year, I wrote a post for my U.S. News blog in which I discussed some of the courses in social media now available at business schools. In it, I explain that familiarity with the various forms of social media communication is no longer enough; graduates have to be able to transfer this experience into the commercial landscape.

Harvard Business School professor Misiek Psikorski, who teaches a course called Competing with Social Networks,  agrees, telling FT that social media presents a new way of approaching markets, and “It is critical for our students to understand these media.”

One important point that I make in the FT article concerns managing one’s online presence, particularly where b-school applicants are concerned.  MBA admissions committees are increasingly tech-savvy, and often research applicants’ Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn accounts to confirm information on an application and generally check for appropriateness in his or her online persona.

If you have concerns about how you might be perceived by AdCom, read this SBC Scoop on Matching Your Face(book) to Your Name, which explains in detail how one client handled this situation.

Today’s students don’t see social media as a trend; rather, this is a generation that has grown up with the Internet. Business schools, like any enterprise, must adapt and evolve to this new reality in order to prepare graduates who can develop and manage marketing strategies that address the nuances of the online world.

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