UCLA Anderson Interview Debrief

I just finished my interview with a second year student from UCLA Anderson and it went so much better than I imagined it would! I think I got lucky on several counts. Firstly, my interviewer was a woman. This was actually a perfect match since a lot of my leadership stories are related to the struggles of being a woman in the male-dominated tech industry and it seemed like she could really relate. Secondly, she also comes from a background in technology so I’m certain that all of my stories made sense to her. Finally, she was just a really nice, fun person to talk to! Lots of smiles, lots of jokes and just a real sense of comfort that I have yet to experience in an MBA interview. No awkwardness whatsoever! What also helped was the fact that it was a Skype interview, so I was sitting in the comfort of my bedroom and it felt like I was talking to a friend across the continent. Overall, a great experience.

Okay now getting down to the details that might actually help applicants who are yet to interview. She started off by telling me about herself and her background really briefly. Then onto the questions:

  1. Walk me through your resume: She said she had my resume in front of her, so she didn’t want me to go into too much detail. I just gave her a brief overview of everything in there, focusing more on the reasons behind my career choices and my biggest achievements.
  2. Why MBA: I kind of had to throw in my short term and long term goals here briefly to answer why an MBA but I didn’t go into too much detail because I knew a separate question would be coming up. I explained myself briefly mentioning why specifically an MBA at UCLA.
  3. Why UCLA Anderson: She wanted me to go into more detail about why UCLA specifically, so after covering the basics like location, weather and LA, I got more specific and spoke about the classes I wanted to take and the resources that are offered. She actually said that one particular class that I named was an excellent class and that I should definitely take it.
  4. Why now: I think this was a really important question, but I feel like I nailed it mostly because I want to work in a niche, product technology space that is really going to boom in the next 5-10 years so for me the timing is everything.
  5. Short term and long term goals: The usual. Just have to be really clear about what it is you want to do, why you want to do it and most importantly, how it makes sense considering your experience so far.
  6. Story about leadership: I chose a story where I wasn’t directly leading people, but influencing them. It wasn’t a very conventional story, but she actually said it was a perfect answer to this particular question so it paid off.
  7. Story about dealing with conflict: I think more than the actual background to the story, it’s important to show what you did to resolve the issue at hand. I’m not entirely happy with this one because I went into too much detail about the situation, rather than talking about what I learnt from the experience.
  8. Strength and weakness: More than the actual strengths and weaknesses, I tried to show how the former would be useful to me at Anderson and how I would try to work on the latter at Anderson. Basically connecting the question to reinforce why UCLA.

Once I finished answering all these questions, we were at about 25 minutes so she opened the floor for any questions I had. Her enthusiasm for the school was infectious and everything she said about the school was spot on. She even gave me some advice in the end about making the most of your MBA experience that I have written down (it really was that good). I also managed to squeeze in a few activities that I would love to be a part of at Anderson during the last few minutes as an organic part of our conversation. I guess the only thing I’m slightly disappointed she didn’t ask was about my life outside work, because hey, I’m a fascinating person 😛 but the rest of it went well so I really can’t complain.

After it was over, I sent her a quick thank you note and that was it! The interview was super casual and friendly, much like Anderson students themselves and I have no doubt in my mind that it is a great school. I’m just going to have to keep my fingers crossed till the 2nd of April, which luckily isn’t too far away. Best of luck to everyone else who interviewed/is waiting to interview!

Out of sight, out of mind.

It’s been a while since I’ve had anything to report and honestly, the release of a new product has had me working 12 hours day, I kid you not. I’ve been so burnt out for the past few weeks and my eyes have begun to water as soon as I look at the screen of my laptop. Ridiculous.

With everyone getting invites left and right, I’d pretty much assumed that Round 2 was over for me. An interview waiver I received from Kellogg a week ago just seemed to confirm that… but I woke up to an Anderson invite this morning so perhaps it’s not over yet.

Having this whole MBA thing out of my mind has actually helped since I’m no longer anal and panicky about everything. I got the interview invite and I was like “Oh an invite. How nice”. That was the extent of my excitement, which was weird but I guess it just means I’ll be calmer for the interview? UCLA is a great school for me by all intents and purposes so I’m going to schedule my interview and give it my best shot.

Until then, I’ll be talking to as many current students as I possibly can and scouring the internet for anything that might help. Hope everyone’s doing well! And to all my friends who have decided where to attend, congratulations! I’m so very excited to see what’s next for you.

Booth – Ding #1

So it’s official, my first ding of Round 2 from Booth. Unfortunately, it was what I considered my best application so now I’m a little apprehensive about the fate of my other three applications. I’m not too disappointed because I knew it was a long shot but I had to try. My presentation was good, I have no doubt about that but I think my lack of work experience was what held me back along with an average-ish GMAT score. For any other school, I don’t think this would matter but this is the Top 5 we’re talking about. I’ve also been thinking about my plans if Round 2 doesn’t work this time around… more on that later!

Congratulations to everyone invited to interview! I hope to be in that enviable position soon.

Fuqua Interview Report

So I finished my interview yesterday and it went better than I thought it would! I had to fly in to a different city so I flew in on the 14th, spent the night, woke up well rested and headed for the interview which was scheduled comfortably at 10.15 a.m on the 15th. I was actually a full 25 minutes early, but it worked out great since my interviewer showed up early too! He was a young-ish guy, about mid to late 30s if I had to guess. After a few minutes of small talk, he jumped right in. Questions asked included:

  • Tell me about yourself
  • Tell me about your current role at work
  • Why MBA
  • Why Duke
  • Tell me about some constructive feedback that you received
  • Tell me about the time you showed your leadership skills (in and out of work)
  • What do you think makes a team successful
  • What is your role in a team
  • Tell me about a time you handled a conflict in a team
  • What kind of a leader are you
  • What are your career goals
  • Why do you think this is the right time for an MBA
  • Which other schools have you applied to

The interview lasted about 40-45 minutes, including the questions I asked him at the end. Initially, I didn’t think he was very responsive but as I found my groove, I saw him nodding and agreeing with stuff I said. I didn’t have any issues coming up with stories and I was very well prepared with my answers to why Duke and why an MBA. He opened up when I started asking him questions about the Duke experience and by then, we had a good rapport. He even told me to call him if I ever needed any help regarding Duke or even otherwise.

Overall, a nice friendly chat with a chilled out vibe. No curve balls and no unexpected questions. I was kind of flipping out right before because some guy (interviewing in the same city as I was) was asked a case question and grilled for 1.5 hours, so I guess I got lucky. I think I did my  best and there isn’t much I would change about the interview. I guess only time will tell now! Good luck to everyone else interviewing at Fuqua!

Fuqua – Invited to Interview!

AAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH! *insert girly squeal here*

So I’ve scheduled my interview for the 15th which happens to be a Wednesday. That gives me a decent amount of time to prepare I think. It’s going to be an interview with an alumnus and Duke interviews do have a reputation of being friendly and easygoing, much like the school itself! It’s going to be a blind interview so the interviewer will only have access to my resume. I’ve started preparing and it mainly involves going over every inch of my resume and reading endless interview reports on Accepted and Clear Admit.

I’m trying to focus on getting the FIT exactly right and showing how Fuqua is my number one choice. I also need to emphasise on the aspects of my work that involve collaboration and leadership. I’ll be sure to have a detailed report up here once my interview is done. I’m not stressed really, just intensely hoping that it goes well. I want to step out of there knowing I’ve got this in the bag: a girl can dream!

I’ll keep you posted.