Harvard | Mr. Overrepresented MBB Consultant (2+2)
GMAT 760, GPA 3.95
Wharton | Mr. Big Four To IB
GMAT 750, GPA 3.6
Cornell Johnson | Mr. Electric Vehicles Product Strategist
GRE 331, GPA 3.8
Stanford GSB | Mr. Startup Guy
GMAT 760, GPA 3.3
Rice Jones | Mr. Tech Firm Product Manager
GRE 320, GPA 2.7
Harvard | Mr. Billion Dollar Startup
GRE 309, GPA 6.75/10
Chicago Booth | Mr. Mexican Central Banker
GMAT 730, GPA 95.8/100 (1st in class)
Harvard | Mr. Comeback Kid
GMAT 770, GPA 2.8
Harvard | Mr. Tech Risk
GMAT 750, GPA 3.6
Chicago Booth | Mr. Corporate Development
GMAT 740, GPA 3.2
Wharton | Ms. Strategy & Marketing Roles
GMAT 750, GPA 9.66/10
Harvard | Mr. Bomb Squad To Business
GMAT 740, GPA 3.36
Harvard | Mr. Big 4 To Healthcare Reformer
GRE 338, GPA 4.0 (1st Class Honours - UK - Deans List)
Foster School of Business | Mr. Corporate Strategy In Tech
GMAT 730, GPA 3.32
IU Kelley | Mr. Advertising Guy
GMAT 650, GPA 3.5
Duke Fuqua | Mr. IB Back Office To Front Office/Consulting
GMAT 640, GPA 2.8
Yale | Mr. Lawyer Turned Consultant
GMAT 730, GPA 3.7
Chicago Booth | Mr. Whitecoat Businessman
GMAT 740, GPA Equivalent to 3(Wes) and 3.4(scholaro)
MIT Sloan | Ms. Digital Manufacturing To Tech Innovator
GMAT 720, GPA 3.4
Cornell Johnson | Mr. Healthcare Corporate Development
GMAT 740, GPA 3.5
Columbia | Mr. Developing Social Enterprises
GMAT 750, GPA 3.75
Yale | Mr. Education Management
GMAT 730, GPA 7.797/10
Columbia | Mr. Neptune
GMAT 750, GPA 3.65
Darden | Ms. Education Management
GRE 331, GPA 9.284/10
Columbia | Mr. Confused Consultant
GMAT 710, GPA 3.2
Harvard | Ms. 2+2 Trader
GMAT 770, GPA 3.9
Harvard | Mr Big 4 To IB
GRE 317, GPA 4.04/5.00

For These Jittery MBA Applicants, It’s The Ultimate Game Of Thrones

IMD in Lausanne, Switzerland

IMD in Lausanne, Switzerland


MBA students who have gone through the process recall it with a measure of fear and relief. “You’re constantly on edge,” says Peter Kalet, a current IMD student from Los Angeles who had been a plant manager for Danaher. “You’ve made it pretty far but you’ve got to get over this hurdle. It’s a long six hours of uncertainty you have to go through.” 

Yet for some, it’s oddly an attraction. “It’s one of the reasons I chose IMD because they really select the best,” believes Jaime Charad, another current student from Chile, “It’s not just a half-hour interview with alumni like it can be at many other schools.”

Today, on Sept. 20th, there are a half dozen candidates who will be tested, each of them from a different part of the world. IMD agreed to allow Poets&Quants to observe and report on the challenge as long as the identity of the applicants was kept confidential. Besides the slim young man from Denmark, there is a 33-year-old extrovert from China who works in Dubai, a 29-year-old American employed by a tech firm in New York City, a 30-year-old business development manager who works in her family business from Turkey, a 29-year-old female chemical engineer woman from India, and a male consultant from Germany who would be sponsored by his employer.


IMD Assessment DayAll six arrived in Lausanne the evening before. Some jet-lagged; all are jittery. They came to campus for an 8:30 a.m. tour before reporting to a sparse conference room in one of the campus’ eight buildings shortly after 9 a.m. They sit ramrod erect around the table, all outfitted in somber business attire when greeted by Farrus who assumed the top admissions role at IMD last year after a nearly dozen-year stint as head of admissions for Oxford University’s Saïd Business School and six years in admissions at IESE Business School in her native Spain.

“Today’s objective,” she says, “is to get to know you a little better. But it’s also an opportunity for you to get to know us. It’s not only an assessment day for you. It’s an assessment for us. So enjoy yourselves, be yourselves. I can promise you this: by the end of the day you are going to be exhausted.”

Then, each of the three admission officials escorts a candidate out of the room and into a nearby office for their interviews. Farrus chooses the young Dane in his dark blue suit, white shirt and blue tie. Before the man sits at the table, he buttons his jacket, opens a pad of white paper in front of him and takes out a pen.


The rough start to Farrus’ interview is merely a harbinger of what’s next. Her questions come fast and furious, with no let-up over the next 45 minutes, causing many uneasy, bedeviling moments. 

“Can you think of what has been the biggest challenge you’ve had to face?”

The young professional recalls an expat assignment in London who concedes he felt alone and isolated during his stint in one of Europe’s most vibrant cities. Unable to connect with others, he threw himself into his work, racking up 12 to 14 hours a day at a desk. “It was hard to meet people and make friends and my colleagues were okay.”


Farrus digs in deeper, with a flurry of questions that often bring exasperating answers.

“How did you deal with it?”

“Why were you lonely?”

“The best-case scenario is you get admitted and come. Will you be lonely here?”

The applicant assures her he wouldn’t be. “First of all,” he says, “I will bring my partner and there are a lot of people here. I am sure I will find someone to get along with.”

“Why do you want an MBA?”


The candidate hesitates again, the sound of the clicking pen breaking the room’s silence.

“Maybe it sounds a little cheesy but I would like to impact the world,” he says in all sincerity. “I want to advance to a place in the corporate world where I can have more influence and to do that an MBA is essential.”

“Why do you want to make an impact?,” asks Farrus.

“How do you think an MBA will help you impact the world?”

And so it goes, on and on.

“When was the last time you were angry or frustrated?” she asks. The question surprises the candidate who is visibly unsettled by it. To soften the impact, Farrus volunteers that she had been angry only that morning with her son. 


“What do you do with that anger?” Farrus asks in a follow-up.

And the queries continue.

“Can you think of a time when you had to motivate someone to do something they didn’t want to do?”

“One of the things that your recommender said is that you are very impatient.”

The Dane seems frazzled by the comment but concedes it is true. “Yes, I am impatient if I am bored.”

”So you get bored easily?”

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