What Happens During an ‘Undercover’ Admissions Interview?

In the latest installment of Bloomberg Businessweek journalist Amy S. Choi‘s attempt to walk in the shoes of b-school applicants, the intrepid writer shares how being herself worked out during her recent MBA interview experience at NYU Stern School of Business.

From taking wardrobe risks to over-preparing to bungled answers, applicants can take away several useful tips from this story, particularly those with Stern on their shortlist.

“The interview process is typically to confirm a ‘yes,’” Alison Goggin, senior director of MBA admissions at Stern, tells Choi. “For the 30 percent of applicants that interview but don’t receive an invitation, it means that there were already questionable elements to their application, but we wanted to see if the interview might change our minds.”

After sketching out one “fumbled” Q and A, Choi acknowledges she might have been more succinct if she’d run through her answers at least once. I’m quoted in the piece advising Choi to practice out loud to avoid rambling and, even worse, becoming boring.

“Luckily, the next few questions are fairly typical: What are my greatest professional accomplishments? Challenges? Blackman recommends the STAR method for answering situational questions such as ‘Tell me about a professional hurdle.’ Discuss the situation, task, action, and result. This works like a charm,” Choi writes.

Ultimately, Choi learns that the key to acing an MBA interview is being professional, prepared, and most of all, true to yourself. As Goggin assures Choi, “We sincerely do want to have a conversation and learn about you. This isn’t a job interview. It’s an admissions interview.”

Follow the link above to learn more about Choi’s MBA interview experience at Stern, as well as what happened when she winged the GMAT with no preparation…all in the name of journalism.


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