NYU Stern’s Gatekeeper On The New EQ-Focused Application

NYU Stern School of Business – Ethan Baron photo

P&Q: Do you have any examples of things that stood out to you in the positive that made you want to bring an applicant in for an interview?

Gallogly: It’s always tough to get into personal stories because of confidentiality, but it’s a lot of the stuff you could imagine. Sometimes someone talks about how they were in a very difficult situation and their friend or colleague was able to come in and assist them, or provide guidance, or navigate them on something challenging. It’s just, again, seeing how people respond to crisis and how they elevate and rise in some of the most challenging situations are just those types of stories. It’s not always of the scale or magnitude as to when a country or city experiences some challenge, like a natural disaster or something along those lines where you hear the stories of people who go above and beyond to help their neighbors and friends. It has that type of feel of that selflessness or character to step in. And also, how to manage situations.

You know, sometimes in recommendations, people use vague platitudes. The nice part about the way we ask the questions is we ask for a specific anecdote as an example. And the detail and specificity in that really brings that to life. It’s one thing to say someone is selfless, but it’s a very different thing to tell a story where the only conclusion is that they’re selfless.

P&Q: What were some mistakes or wrong approaches you saw to that EQ recommendation portion?

Gallogly: Most people did a good job with it. I think sometimes people were maybe not taking us at our word, that it was OK to have an EQ endorsement from just about any source. I think sometimes people wanted to keep it only in the professional arena. And sometimes the person they chose had a limited ability to comment on their EQ, just because of how they knew them, how long they knew, the situations they’ve seen them in — it probably wasn’t as powerful of an endorsement as what they might have gotten from a different selection. I think some of that is it’s new, people are getting more comfortable with it. I think other people were looking at it more as a recommendation instead of an endorsement of character, and they are different things. It’s the same with recommendations. You have to choose the people that can offer insight, not just the people who have titles and things like that. That’s about the only mistake, but it wasn’t frequent. It was definitely infrequent.

P&Q: What’s some advice you can offer applicants preparing for this year’s cycle for the professional and personal EQ endorsements? What are some things they can go ahead and start doing?

Gallogly: I think the biggest thing is to think hard about who it is that will give you the best bang for your buck out of it. And spend some time chatting with those people. See if they have some time and are willing to bring forward some stories. You could even ask them, what kinds of stories might you tell about me. Obviously, you don’t write these documents — other people write them. But it doesn’t mean you can’t have a conversation and make sure the person is going to put forth a strong effort on your behalf and tell stories that are impactful and going to put you in a great light.

Also, give the person the chance to get in that mindset by giving them a lot of lead time, so they don’t have to rush and put it together in a thoughtful way. Similarly, with your direct supervisor, having a conversation about what you’re doing, getting their support, make sure you give them adequate time. You can talk with them about the fact that they are going to talk about the EQ piece in particular, as that may not be something they are as familiar with.

P&Q: And what about the Pick Six Pictures portion of the application? How did that go?

Gallogly: It was also brand new last year. We had historically had a personal expression essay, which gave you the ability to write an essay, describing yourself to your future classmates or you could submit a creative submission, whether it be a video or song or cereal box mocked up with yourself, or a game board mocked up with yourself or any number of crazy interesting things we’ve gotten over the years. So we really decided to evolve the personal essay section into the Pick Six last year for a number of reasons. The first is that it standardizes what people submit and we wanted them to spend time on the thought of how they wanted to articulate themselves as opposed to the means. We didn’t want people going off and hiring Martin Scorsese to do their feature film. We didn’t think that was the best use of time. It doesn’t need to be that — it’s much more about the insight we get from the person. Also, I think some people wanted some better guidance, you know, what should I submit, what shouldn’t I submit.

The other important thing is that essays in some ways feel kind of like 1886 to me. You know, where people have the quill and the ink and parchment and they write these letters to one another that would be delivered on horseback months later. Essays, to me, in someways are from a different time. And a lot of communication these days is combination of visual and verbal. I mean, look at websites, look at apps, everything that people do. People do infographics now and word clouds and listicles. In today’s day and age, you need to make sure people can communicate visually as well as verbally, certainly with social media. To us, in someways, the Pick Six is like admissions meets Instagram. It’s a very familiar means of people to express themselves.

The other thing we hear about from people is essays have word counts and character counts. The great part about this is if a picture really does say a thousand words, this is an essay with an over 6,000 word limit, so they clearly aren’t limited that much in what they can express. People have really loved doing this. They feel like it gives them an amazing way to truly demonstrate who they are across a number of different angles, in a relatively straight-forward means, but in a way you can really dramatize it in a way you can’t dramatize it in a written essay. And for us in admissions reviewing them, the committee has also loved them as well. It gives you a very quick view and impression of an individual — what they value, what’s important to them, and what they’re about.

P&Q: Did you see any mistakes applicants made in the Pick Six? What are some things you think future applicants should avoid?

Gallogly: I think there are a lot of things out there about some of the common ones like using bad language, or sloppiness, or not doing research. But one of the things I’ve been seeing more recently is not understanding boundaries. That’s one that has been really interesting to see lately. For example, I’ve been recently getting a lot of requests from applicants or prospective students via my LinkedIn account. It’s kind of interesting and surprising to me because this is an account that is a personal account as a professional. It’s not an account that I maintain on behalf of NYU Stern, it’s not a public account. And, yeah, there have been complete strangers trying to connect with me and those sorts of social media connections are for people who are already in your network, who you know. To me, that’s one of those things where I think it’s poor judgment in terms of boundaries. I’m more than happy to inform and help applicants and there are a multitude of channels by which they can get information. It just feels like someone showing up at your house instead of your place of business. And, to me, I think that it’s a boundaries issue and one that is happening more often. I understand that people want to get an edge and be singled out, but in some ways it can single them out in the wrong way. I don’t know if they’re getting advised on this or they just don’t think about it, or if it’s just generational, but that is a thing I don’t think works out in a person’s favor. There are many other channels to communicate and I advise applicants to use those.

I even checked in with some of the admissions consultants through the AIGAC organization and I asked them, is this something that you guys think would be advised to people. And they sort of agreed with me that this is a boundaries issue and they would not advise people to do when giving consultation for general approaches to applying to business school.