Mes: noviembre 2010

Wharton Interview done

I just came home from my Wharton interview.

This one has been totally different from the previous Chicago’s and LBS’ interviews. There weren’t any questions about why MBA, why now, career goals, or why Wharton, nor any conversation at all.

This year Wharton only makes “behavioral” questions, the same or very similar to all the candidates.

Yesterday I had prepared all my stories to be able to quickly find one that would hopefully fit the question asked. Anyway I knew it was going to be much harder than the previous interviews as I wouldn’t have the opportunity to sell my story or win my interviewer. I think I’m very good on long interviews where I can show who I really am, and not in a sort of “exam” where I’m only asked three questions and sent home.

The interviewer was a Consultant from Wharton (she wasn’t even a Wharton MBA graduate) and her job was to ask me three questions, take a lot of notes during my answers and report the answers and her opinion about these answers (I guess she scored them) to the AdCom.

The interview was in the One International Finance Center in Hong Kong, in Bain & Company offices. I arrived with 20 minutes and was asked to wait. Some time later the interviewer showed up and welcomed me.

Then we went to a small meeting room. She cordially explained that she would ask only three behavioral questions and that she would be taking a lot of notes. She also said that the interview would only last between 20 and 30 minutes.

And that’s all, let’s start. Are you prepared? one, two, three… go!
“Describe a time when you had to work with a team and had to accept the opinion of others”
I think my brain started working at 200% trying to choose the best story. In a few seconds I decided one and I started speaking. I knew I had to talk a lot (at least 5 minutes) and that I should try to “make points”, not only to answer the question. I then started explaining the context of my story, and a lot of things totally unrelated with the question. Suddenly, my brain went blind and I realized I had totally forgotten what she had exactly asked. I knew it was something about team work but with all my brain working on my story I forgot the question. I was just about to say “sorry, what was the question?” but well I decided to continue speaking (and probably avoided a 0 points in the first question). Thankfully, after a few seconds (and a lot of concentration) I remembered the question and I could adjust my story answer it.

At the end it was not bad as I managed to tell this important story. She asked a follow-up question regarding one part of my story but nothing else.

No time for more. While I was drinking some water, she was already asking me the second question. Some thing like:
“Tell me a time when you had to work in a team without a leader”
Here I decided to use my second strong story (so that way I would have discussed about my two strongest ones). I was more calm in this one and I think I made a lot of points :). I took the opportunity to talk about my work in New York in a multicultural team, in projects that involved a lot of communication with Europe, and how we worked in many projects as a team without having any declared manager. Again, I also spoke a lot about other things not totally related to the question…. I hope the girl’s report is not only strictly based on the answer but also reports some other things.

Finally, last question, the end was near.
“Tell me a time when you had to listen others’ view.”
She also said.. “I think this can be also answered with your first response… but please try to find a different story if you can¨
Another story? what? I was totally off the guard. I had to think at least 10-15 seconds to choose one and I’m not sure I chose the correct story. And well, I did it extremely well or extremely bad. Why? because I had prepared this story in case of asking about a “failure” and I used it to answer this question. In brief, someone told me something that I didn’t pay much attention, and at the end the other guy was right and I wasn’t. Therefore, I failed.
I don’t know what the interviewer will think about this, maybe she was surprised that I was honest about speaking about a failure (usually to have failures is something they like, in fact in the Wharton’s essays there is one about a failure), or maybe she will think I don’t pay attention to people in my team, that I’m a bad guy as I don’t listen others or whatever.

The “exam” was finished and I asked some questions about Wharton. But almost all her answers were: “I’m not sure about it”, “well, I’m not an MBA graduate so I don’t know”, “I would have to check that one”, and so on. I probably knew 200 times more about Wharton than her, so I stopped.

She wished me luck and the interview was finished.

Conclusion: I’m satisfied as I have been able to at least tell her three stories that showed a lot of leadership, multicultural and international experiences, successes and…… even failures!. However, I think I talked too much about things that were not very related to the questions themselves, so if she only reports the strict content related to the answers then I have a problem. Anyway, I can think 100 different ways that my interview could have turned worse than it has been, so I should be happy. I hope the failure thing won’t hurt me too much….

On the other hand, I have not liked the way Wharton is doing the interviews this year, when some people seem to know the questions before the actual interview. More about this year Wharton’s interview controversy in Poets & Quants.

Anyway guys, this is OVER!!!! I will leave on vacations this weekend or beginning the next week (still not decided where) and I will try to disconnect. It has been a very tough months and I need some days off to relax.

See you!

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London Interview done

Yesterday I had my London Business School interview in Hong Kong.

The interviewer was an Alumnus that works in a European Investment Bank in Trading Floor (not trader but he is in his way to become one). He was graduated from two years ago though he had almost 7 years work experience before starting the MBA.

The interview was at 6 PM. I had taken half day off from work to have some time to prepare and to arrive to the place with time. The office was in the upper floors of one of the tallest buildings in Hong Kong, and we met in an office with spectacular views to Hong Kong and next to the Trading Floor. It was impressive, but I’m very used to that as my work place is very similar.

Before the interview I thought the guy was British but at the end he wasn’t. He was from another Western European country. He was cordial but serious. He welcomed me, offered me a glass of water and we went to the meeting room. He had printed my entire application (I already knew the interview wasn’t blind).

Once there, he explained me the interview structure: he would make me questions, then the 5 minutes impromptu presentation and finally he would talk about his career and answer to my questions. About the presentation, he said that he had chosen one topic among six proposed by the AdCom, that it was fine for him if I spoke less than 5 minutes, and that the goal was to see how I think and how I make presentations.

So he started asking me questions taking some notes as I spoke. Here some I remember and in this order:
– Explain me who you are
– Tell me when you had a conflict leading people (I was surprised with this hard question so early)
– Tell me when you led people and you resolved a conflict with someone else in your team
– Tell me what you learned in those situations
– What strengths and weaknesses the people you led would tell me about you?
– Why an MBA and why now
– Career goals
– Why your current career won’t help you to achieve your goals and you prefer to do an MBA?
– I see you have applied to other schools, why would you choose LBS over them? Why did you apply to Wharton? and Chicago? and MIT?
– What do you like from LBS?
– How would you be involved in the LBS community?
– Tell me when you had a cultural shock problem and how did you solve it
– Why are you interested in X? (something specific about the school that I’ve put in my essays)
– What is happening in the world regarding the financial crisis?
– What are the problems Spain has? (I’m from Spain, in case you don’t know)
– What would you change in Spain regarding those problems?

Then he gave me a piece of paper, a pen and the topic of the presentation. He gave me about 3-5 minutes to prepare it. I then started quickly brainstorming and trying to find ideas, examples, etc. It remembered me a lot to a TOEFL Speaking question. The difference was that the topic was harder but I had much more time to prepare. I found some ideas and some examples and when I was ready I started the presentation. He listened without interrupting or saying anything. I think I spoke about 5 minutes but I’m not sure, maybe it was less. Honestly I think I did it better than I expected and at least I said things and I didn’t get stuck after 30 seconds. Anyway it wasn’t great but I hope they take into account I’m not native.

The last 30 minutes of the interview were very interesting as he spoke a lot about his career, the MBA program, why I should do it, about things he liked, things he didn’t, about the city of London, where to live, what clubs he liked, about the study groups, first and second year projects, internship, etc. I made him a lot of questions as we spoke. He knew my wife was also applying so we spoke a bit about her (for example I asked if the school provides opportunities for people with her goals). It was a very interesting conversation and I think he was honest in all his opinions.

The whole think lasted about 1h20 minutes. In summary, I think I did a good job. The interview was far more difficult that Chicago’s. Of course I would change some things and some answers but I think I managed to show him who I am and why LBS should accept me. I’m happy how the interview went and I think he will do a good report about me. Again, we’ll see if I’m right by mid
December.

Tomorrow… Wharton!

Booth interview done

I just came back from my Chicago interview. I’m very happy with how it went.

As I told you in previous post, my interviewer has a good position within an American bank here in Hong Kong. The interview was in a meeting room at his office in Hong Kong.

I arrived 15 minutes before the interview and I was addressed to a meeting room where the interview would be held. I was then alone waiting for him and 20 minutes later a women arrived telling me that he was busy with something and that he would arrive late. I was a bit anxious during all of this waiting time but I have to say that I kept my nervous very well. Finally, he showed up about 15 minutes after our appointment.

He apologized for keeping me waiting and quickly started talking. We exchanged business cards, something that in Hong Kong is important. Then he presented himself briefly and told me that he had been working and living in several continents (as I did) and explained about his different positions he has held. He spoke about finance stuff that I didn’t completely understand but well I quickly figured out that he was a very financial focused guy. He told me his parents were from Hong Kong but he was born and spent almost all his life in Canada.

Then he told me to present myself. I started speaking about my education, when I moved to Grenoble (France), my work in Amadeus in Nice, then about when I moved to New York to work at Société Générale, and finally when I was transferred to Hong Kong. He let me speak during 5-10 minutes where I went through my different positions, projects I led and so on. I had prepared a lot the “walk your resume” questions so I did well, trying not to bore him but also not forgetting anything important.

Next, he was interested in my last position here in Hong Kong, as I’m very close to the trading floors and he actually works there. I explained what I do here and he was very interested. He made me a couple of specific questions regarding one of the projects I managed and I answered very well. It seemed like he wanted to verify I knew what I was talking about.

Then he started asking why I want to do an MBA and why now. Then why Booth is my best fit and so on, and why I plan to learn in case I’m accepted. I answered with totally sincerity and we started a great conversation about the school, about my career and many things about Chicago. It was a great time because he started to be relaxed and started to open himself, being very helpful.

Finally, he asked me what I like from Hong Kong, or why I don’t prefer to continue working where I work now instead of spending two years studying. I answered with good reasons and he seemed totally convinced. He also asked me about my wife, and I explained him that she was also applying (maybe he already knew? it was kind of weird to ask me for her) and he said it was great to share the experience together.

An that’s all, no more questions for me. He asked if I had questions for him. I had prepared some, although I have been doing a lot of research about Chicago and I was more interested in his experience (I had already told him that I knew many people from Chicago and that I had contacted many current students so I didn’t need to show him that I knew about the program). I asked him how Booth had helped him in his career. He started speaking a lot about Booth and how it has helped in his career. He seemed very comfortable speaking with me and the conversation was going very good. At the end he started using “I suggest you that when you are in Chicago you should choose this and this”, “you should live the first year here and the second there”. etc. He changed his initial tone “if you are accepted” to more like seeming like “you are going to be accepted”. I felt that way and the last 20 minutes we spoke about the school, about other different schools and many things about my career possibilities.

At the end, we ended the conversation with very good words and he said something like “I like your profile for Chicago” or “you are a perfect fit for the school” or “I don’t have any regrets on your applications”, and “you will be very happy in Chicago”. So overall I’m quite optimistic and I hope he will write a good report about me.

In conclusion, the interview was great and I believe I did a great job and I’m very satisfied with how the conversation went. Honestly, I think this interview will help me to be admitted. We’ll see in a month!

If you are reading this and you have your MBA interview soon, I think the interviews of this kind you should do your best to sell yourself, the interviewer is not going to ask you the questions you want (I would have loved to tell him more about some stories but he didn’t ask anything that could have led me to speak about them), so try to use each of the questions to convey the ideas you want he remember about you. Once the interview is finished, ask yourself: Did I speak about leadership? Did I say I’m X, Y or Z? Did I speak about my stories A, B or C? Did I say an MBA from X School is the best option for me?

Interviews schedule

In the next two weeks I will be doing the interviews.

The first one is Chicago’s, which will be hold this Thursday morning. I will be interviewed by an Alumnus here in Hong Kong. He a big guy of a well known US bank and he graduated from Chicago about 10 years ago. The interview will be in his office and will last about an hour.

On the other hand, Wharton interview will be on Friday 19 with an AdCom member. About LBS I don’t have yet the instructions of the interview. In the invitation email said that the process of scheduling the interview could last up to 2 weeks. I hope to receive the appointment as soon as possible as I have a week of vacations at the end of the month and I would like to be done with the interviews and travel somewhere. By the way, MIT interview decisions are sent beginning December.

I have been preparing a bit the past days. As my wife has also interviews we are asking each other a lot and trying to prepare the questions that we may receive.

I will let you know how the interview goes.

Wharton invitation to interview!!

This is great! My third invite of the season!

I woke up this morning and first thing I did is to check my gmail and saw the “Wharton Invitation to Interview” email. I think I have been dreaming about Wharton during my sleep tonight :). Sincerely, I had a lot of doubts about this application, as I had applied about a week before the deadline and I didn’t get an invitation the first day.

I have already scheduled my interview in Hong Kong. I had the choice between an Alumni and an Adcom member, but I preferred to do it with the later.

Wharton, Chicago and LBS… I’m very excited. All my hard-work during the last year is paying off. I hope to finish off the task with good interviews and admissions in mid-December.

As “usual”, my wife also received an invitation :). It’s the best thing to share the happiness.

Here the email received:

Dear xxxx,

The status of your application has been updated and you have been invited to interview with the Wharton MBA Admissions Office. (Please look for the link to the letter inviting you to interview located at the bottom of the main page of your online application account.)

Please log into your Wharton account and select “Search” in the Events box to the right on the main page. Next select an interview type (On-Campus or Alumni) and proceed to schedule your interview. Please read the instructions given for each type of interview very carefully.

If scheduling an on-campus interview, select the date you are looking for and proceed. If scheduling a HUB location interview, select the location, and proceed to schedule your interview.

We look forward to meeting you in the near future.
Sincerely,

Wharton MBA Admissions Office
The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania
420 Jon M Huntsman Hall
3730 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6340

LBS interview invitation!

I just received an invitation for interview from London Business School !!!
Honestly I was (a bit) confident I would receive this invitation. I know LBS likes diversity and my very international background is a solid strength in this case. I focused a lot on that on my essays. However, Harvard’s ding made me lose a bit of confidence in my applications.

LBS appeals a lot to me. First, it is a European school and I believe my network in Europe would be bigger attending LBS than attending an US schools (in some cases I may be wrong). Second, it has a financial brand and I’m very interested on developing my knowledge in that area during the program. Finally, it is located in London, where I’ve never been. Yes, I have visited more than 30 countries, lived in three continents but I never put my feet in the UK. I would love to live the London experience.
By the way, as happened in Chicago, my wife also got an invitation! This is a very good thing.

Here the email:

Dear xxx,

Thank you for submitting your application to the Full-time MBA Programme at London Business School commencing August 2011 (MBA2013).

I am delighted to inform you that based on the strength of your initial application you have been selected for interview by the MBA Admissions Committee.

Your interview arrangements will be organised by your regional representative from the MBA Recruitment & Admissions Team. All interviews are arranged by the MBA Office and then conducted by a London Business School alumnus.

It is important for you to remember that we interview all around the world, and that this process will take time to set up, (possibly up to two weeks). Please be patient during this time, but if you have had any location, phone or email address changes recently please make sure that you let us know about this as soon as possible.

In the meantime, if you have any questions about the Programme, please do not hesitate to contact the regional representative who is responsible for processing your application. (Please see below).

Congratulations on reaching this stage – we wish you the very best of luck with your interview.

MBA Recruitment & Admissions Team

London Business School

Ding from Harvard

Two days ago I received a ding notification from Harvard, something expected after 2 weeks waiting for an interview invitation that never arrived.

Honestly I completed the application in a weekend, just after receiving my Toefl retake score (109, the minimum required). Perhaps I should have worked more on it, as I reused the essays written for Chicago, Wharton and LBS. Anyway I don’t think I could have done it much better at that time. However, the MIT application later forced me to write new essays (with its requirement that the stories must be from the last 3-years) that would have worked really well on Harvard’s essays. It is possible that I have focused too much on non-professional stories for my applications before the MIT’s.

During August I started to have doubts about applying to Harvard or not. First, at that time my Toefl score was far lower than the minimum required. And second, after doing a lot of research about the school, I had doubts about its 100% case method courses and to be part of an environment where I would have to “fight” and compete with 90 other students to say something in a one minute speech.

At the end I let aside the application, giving more priority to the ones I was more interested and I felt I had more chances.

Anyway, Harvard appealed a lot to me (brand name, general management focus, alumni network, campus, Boston, etc.), and when I received my new Toefl score in mid-September (109, exactly Harvard’s minimum) and I was almost done with the other application, I decided to apply. In a matter of a weekend I completed the application.

I’m of course disappointed as I had expected at least an interview. But well, I’m used to see always the good sides of everything. If I have not been selected, that may mean I’m not fit with the school, as I internally thought.

Very soon… LBS and Wharton decisions! If I not receive invitations then this time I will be really disappointed…

Harvard’s ding email:

Dear xxx:

The Harvard MBA Admissions Board sincerely appreciates your interest
in our program, and recognizes the considerable potential and strength
evident in your application. Unfortunately, we are unable to offer you
a place in the MBA Class of 2013.

The MBA Admissions Board carefully and thoughtfully assesses each
application. Ultimately, it is a matter of numbers — due to the large
number of applications we receive, we are unable to admit many strong
candidates — candidates who have excellent credentials and who
demonstrate strong promise for careers in management.

In reviewing this round of applications, we saw a great deal of
talent, accomplishments and energy. Please know that composing a
cohort with maximum texture and range in experience and skill set is
an extremely difficult task, and not a reflection of your
qualification as an applicant. We thank you for considering our MBA
Program, and please accept our best wishes for future success.

Sincerely,

Deirdre C. Leopold
Managing Director, MBA Admissions & Financial Aid