This has been an interesting interview trip. From the hour long flight delay due to “lavatory issues” (I don’t even want to know), to my pen exploding on me mid-flight, to my long midnight train ride from O’Hare to downtown Chicago in sub-freezing temperatures, just getting to my hotel was a bumpier ride than any of my previous trips up north.
It really could have been worse, but I wish I’d gotten in a bit earlier because the late arrival stole a few precious hours I wanted to use the following day for class visits and building tours. Instead, I thought it a better decision to catch up on some much needed sleep and finalize my interview prep.
1. Don’t take the latest flight out,
2. Always assume delays (I should really know better), and
3. Don’t open liquid-ink pens at 30,000 feet.
The following day, in advance of my 3:00pm interview slot in Evanston, I woke up at 9:30am. After some coffee and delicious brown sugar bacon plus eggs, I started getting everything in order.
Print resume copies? Check. Iron shirt, pants, and socks (just kidding on the socks)? Check. Polish shoes? Check. Padfolio? MIA. Woops, I would have to make due with my spiral notebook… At least I had remembered to bring my purple tie, a very clever fashion choice (I said to myself).
And how to get to Evanston from downtown Chicago? There is a train option, but as time ticked away my risk aversion kicked in, I got nervous, and I pulled the trigger on a taxicab. There’s a flat rate option, $32 through these guys, 303 Taxi, but there are other businesses as well. Make sure you communicate this flat-rate to the cab driver, he seemed somewhat surprised when I mentioned it, but he acquiesced all the same. He also seemed to be in a bit of a rush to get there after I told him about my interview time, so I appreciated that bit of kindness with a solid tip at the end.
So, all suited up, newly bought heavy coat on, and laptop bag in hand, the cab arrived exactly on time (keep your phone ready, they will call you – initially an automated system asks you how long you want the cab to wait, but the cab pulls up like immediately after you select your wait time; fyi – I selected five minutes).
The 30 minute cab ride was a good chance for me to hammer home the key points I wanted to communicate about myself: Knowledge of the school, how Kellogg can help me achieve my post-MBA goals, fit, anticipated involvement/impact at Kellogg, and my efforts to learn about the school through information sessions/student and alumni contact. Google is your friend when it comes to interview prep.
I arrived exactly 20 minutes early, and sat with a couple other applicants who appeared just as nervous as I felt. And remember how I thought I was SUPER clever to have worn that purple tie? Well, it turns out I’m not the only one who had that totally original idea. I want to say, of the five other guys that I saw before and after my interview, four of them were wearing some variation of a purple tie. I still don’t know if it’s a bad idea to wear a purple tie, because I mean, hey, you’re demonstrating that you’re really trying here. But I imagine the actual students can spot the applicants by their ties alone, and it must lose it’s power when everyone is doing it. The question is, if you didn’t wear one, would that put you in a bad light since almost everyone else did? And who knows, it’s equally likely the adcom doesn’t care at all, or has much bigger questions regarding your candidacy than tie choice.
After a while, the front desk people started chatting with us, which helped ease nerves for us anxious applicants. We discussed movies mostly, and I was internally grateful for the distraction. Plus I met some really cool people, and this reinforced my excitement around the type of people I would (hopefully) live and learn with for two years if I were accepted into Kellogg.
So the interview itself went pretty smoothly, although it was a tight 30 minutes. I’m a somewhat fast-talker, especially when I get nervous, so I consciously tried to slowwww it down. But with the tight time crunch, I would fall back into old habits at times throughout the interview. I’m not really sure how this was perceived, but generally my interviewer kept a poker face and took a ton of notes.