How Much Does the B-School Interview Matter

I’ve had this discussion with a number of folks as I’ve prepared for my upcoming interviews.  Some people tell you not to stress out about it.  They feel that most of your application is already submitted and the interview is just a chance to further personalize your candidacy.  Others say that your entire application rides on the interview and have detailed prep strategies on how to conduct yourself.

Why it Might Matter a Lot

Most schools have an accept-to-interview ratio of about 50%.  If you consider the size of certain admission classes, this is huge investment in both time and resources.  That’s a lot of people to interview if the “decision”  has already been made.  Additionally, for graduate programs outside of the business world, the interview can be weighted to as much as 50% of your overall application.

Why it Might Not Matter That Much

If you’ve conducted or sat through a number of interviews, you know that they are subjective in nature.  The interviewer has complete control of how well or how poorly the interview will go.  And even with all the training in the world, there’s no way to ensure that you’ll get the same interview as the guy next to you.  If the B-schools agree with this, they may not weigh heavily your interview performance and use it as more of a screener.

What I Think

People on the forums have varying opinions and I’m sure that each school does it a little differently.  My feeling is that while an interview might not change a decision from a “yes-to-no” or vice versa, the fact that you don’t know whether or not you’re on the cusp makes it important to everyone applying.  What do you think?

This post is adapted from Random Wok, a blog written by Mako from Silicon Valley. You can read all of his posts at Random Wok.

Selected posts by Mako at PoetsandQuants:

Why I Want an MBA

Climbing the GMAT Mountain: 630 to 710 on a Practice Test

Do Consultants Have An Unfair Edge Over Other Applicants?

Falling Behind & Stressed Out

My New Critical Reasoning Strategy

Figuring Out My Odds of Getting Into Harvard, Stanford, Wharton

With My GMAT Classes Over, It’s Now Just Me and the Test

Making a GMAT Test Taker Feel Like A Complete Pansy

With a Month to Go Before His GMAT Test, It’s Time to Focus

Is The GMAT Really Designed To Break You?

I Took the GMAT Today and Rocked It!

Charting All My GMAT Scores Over Time With Lessons

After Scoring My 750, It’s Now All About Applying

MBA Applications Wisdom from Muhammad Ali

Facing A Gauntlet of Round Two Deadlines

Should Everyone Apply to Harvard Business School?

The Final Click Is The Hardest Click: Sending In My Application

A Punch to the Gut: Bad Reviews On His Draft Essays

MBA Essay Writing: Draining the Life Out of Me

Beginning to Realize You Can Never Write The Perfect MBA Essay

With Wharton and UCLA Apps Done, He Feels Like a Zombie

Taking Back His Life After Sacrificing Health, Time & Sanity

Slammed with Business School Spam Thanks to GMAC

Getting an Invite for An Interview from Berkeley’s Haas School

UCLA’s Anderson School Asks Our Blogger To Interview

  • Michael,
    Good point. I’ve had admissions officials at top schools tell me they are putting far more weight on interviews because they are less certain they can completely trust the essays and general application due to all the coaching and consulting going on. That coaching extends to the GMAT as well.

  • Unfortunately, as admissions become more and more competitive and more schools seek to diversify their classes, interviews are becoming necessary to ensure the internationals that are submitting insane GMATs and perfect essays are, in fact, who they claim to be. I had serious doubts while in my program that the same people who presented themselves so well on “paper” could have possibly made it past an in-person screening interview, due to their exceptionally poor English skills, lack of any assimilation(and in some cases even the desire to integrate) or understanding of how things work in the US, American academia, and graduate level business schools in general. This was a small group to be sure, but I maintain my suspicions.