Johnson GSM Interview (cont’d)
What is the best way for an applicant on the wait-list to improve his or her chances of admission?
We encourage candidates on the waitlist to take an active role in managing their position. For example, we will give wait-listed candidates feedback on ways to strengthen their applications when they contact us. If there were some questions about the candidate’s post MBA goals, we will tell them that during the feedback session. Then they should be able to provide us with information on why they think that this would be a good fit for them, and steps that they may have taken to make sure that they will be successful in achieving their goal. They may have to take a preparatory class, like an accounting class, or something to demonstrate quantitative strength.
We encourage our candidates to remain in contact with us. I tell candidates that there is sort of a fine line between being pro-active and being a stalker. However, when we go into these meetings to decide who to take off the wait list, the committee wants me to say “Jim Smith has really worked hard to strengthen his application and he’s the guy that I want to pull off the wait list.” So a candidate wants their name to be at the top of my head when I go into that meeting. They want me to remember them because they’ve done everything right.
Are there any top application blunders you would hope that prospective candidates would avoid in the future?
Probably the number one mistake that we see – and the one that is the easiest to correct – is when candidates sort of massage a central essay and use it to apply to all schools, but forget to take out another school’s name. Every school knows that candidates do this, but it is that lack of attention to detail that really hurts the candidate. We don’t want to see them send out a résumé or cover letter to our recruiters with the same kind of sloppy attention to detail. Have someone else proofread that essay.
The second most important blunder or common blunder that we see is not answering the question that we ask in the essay. If we ask you to describe your most important leadership role, tell us that and not anything else. We also like to see candidates stick to our word limit. Tell us in the most powerful means possible, in the correct number of words, why you think you should be admitted to the Johnson School.
Do you ever encourage any particular type of rejected applicant to reapply?
We have a number of re-applicants and we like to see them, particularly if they take the time to contact us and ask, ‘where did I fall short?’ and ‘what can I do to strengthen my application?’ In fact, one of our questions on this year’s application will be, ‘if you are a re-applicant, what have you done to strengthen your application?’
We do provide feedback to candidates on ways they can strengthen their application, but we are not going to go through the application with a fine-tooth comb and say you need to do this, this and this. We’re going to give general information, like ‘you need to apply earlier next year,’ or ‘your GMAT is in the low end of our range.’
Is there any general advice you would like to offer prospective students for the next recruiting cycle?
I would say, don’t rule yourself out of our MBA program. We hear a number of candidates, particularly women, who assume they are not going to be admitted. Apply, do your homework, contact us and say I’ve done all the research, I think you are a good program, and do you think I should apply, and what other research should I do to figure out if this is a good program for me.
In closing, are there any other comments you would like to add?
I think that there are a lot of very good MBA programs, and it is important that candidates look at each school individually the same way we look at you individually, and decide which school is really the best fit for them. Don’t use just the rankings, or just the reputation. Visit and make sure that it is just the right program for you. You’ll have the best experience and you’ll get the most out of the program that’s the best overall fit for you.