Behind Those Stressful Video Interviews


Imagine you are in the online application process for an MBA at a crème de la crème status business school. Recommendation letters? Check. Transcripts? Check. GMAT scores and fee? Check and check. You are one “submit” button click away from being finished, right? Not quite if you are applying to the likes of Yale, Rotman (Toronto) or Northwestern’s Kellogg.

These schools are part of a growing contingent requiring an online video question component. The schools are all using an online admissions platform called Kira Talent. Rotman School of Management pioneered the technology, first using a short video interview as another application data point. Kellogg School of Management and Yale School of Management followed suit, blowing the collective GMAT Club forum mind by implementing the component to last year’s application cycle.

Kira Talent first used the technology as a way to further help companies find the best talent. B-schools are doing the same. Admissions committees are looking for new ways to find the most well rounded applicants. And they are adding to an already holistic approach.


“We are a talent management business school,” says Leigh Gauthier, director of careers and acting director of admissions at Rotman. “We find great talent across the world and train and develop that talent. Big business employers are increasingly looking for applicants with good presence and communications. At Rotman, we do a lot of teams and classroom discussions. Consequently, we are looking for a different type of student. Someone who will be successful in all forms of communication.”

Bruce DelMonico, assistant dean and director of admissions at Yale School of Management says Yale is also using it as another data point for applicant consideration.

“We wanted to make sure we were not allowing ourselves to be overly-swayed by the video portion,” DelMonico says. “It is a data point just like a written essay or a GMAT score or GPA. This is very much something that could help a candidate but certainly not hurt an applicant’s standing.”


This is an aspect that is probably overdue for B-schools. As DelMonico and Gauthier noted, business leaders are not just communicating via written word or face-to-face interactions. Video is an increasing part of our world and business in general. Admissions committees want to know if an applicant can present herself or himself well over video because inevitably those candidates will be easier to place at graduation.

Another reason to include the video portion is to help increase objectivity across applicants and admissions committee members. “Applicants can do the video portion at their leisure,” DelMonico says. “There is a consistency with the questions asked and our admissions committee members can watch the video at the same time.”

Bottom line: Admission officials who use video say it allows them to see and hear applicants earlier in the admissions process, meet international applicants and more quickly assess their oral communication skills, and gain an early three-dimensional view of every candidate.

Put simply, Kira Talent saw a need. Starting in a classroom, Kira Talent went from an idea to netting $2 million in 18 months. Upon entering the Next 36 Entrepreneurial Leadership Program, co-founder Emilie Cushman was asked to submit a 60-second explanatory YouTube video of why she should be in the program. Cushman saw the video portion as the reason she was accepted to the school and decided it could play a large role in hiring for companies and being selected in academia.

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