I was exceedingly pleased to read Melissa Korn’s January 5th Wall Street Journal article “B-Schools Send Rejections to Unlikely Group: Alumni.”
As the article states:
Graduate schools including University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School are bypassing alumni in admissions interviews to meet directly with M.B.A. candidates in person or via Skype videoconferencing, despite the potential higher costs, in an attempt to ensure interviews are being conducted in a uniform manner – and in English.
Why do I think this new direction is so important? Because so many alumni interviewers are not skilled at interviewing, and this lack of skill could potentially hurt an applicant’s chances of being accepted at that school.
I deal with this subject, although about alumni interviews for undergraduate college applications, in the first ebook in my 3-part ebook series HOW TO SUCCEED IN HIGH SCHOOL, COLLEGE AND BEYOND.
In HOW TO SUCCEED IN HIGH SCHOOL I say:
What about alumni interviews?
[Many] schools offer or require students be interviewed in their hometown by alumni living in that town.
Have an alumni interview if offered.
Take this interview even if it is not mandatory. You are going to write an essay why you want to attend the school. It is a good idea to talk to an alum about the school for information to turn into ideas for your essays.
(Caution: If the alum graduated several years ago, do not assume that the information he/she tells you is still accurate. You must still do your own due diligence.) Plus taking the time for this interview helps demonstrate your sincere interest in the school.
Alumni interviewers may have no training in interviewing.
In many cases these alumni have not been trained to conduct a college applicant interview. And some of them have been out of school 20 or more years and have not even been back for homecoming. They may not have the foggiest idea how to conduct an interview or be able to give you accurate answers to your questions.
Rule #1: DO NOT base your impression of the school on this alumni interview in your hometown.
Rule #2: DO NOT PANIC IF YOU THINK THE ALUMNI INTERVIEW DID NOT GO WELL.
Remember that these alumni interviewers are volunteers who are trying to help their alma mater get good college applicants. The alumni interviewers’ motives are well-meaning even if their interview skills are lacking.
Alumni interviews are usually not a major decision factor.
In many cases these interviews are basically to ascertain that you are a human being. Word has it that at some schools the interviewer’s comments only make a difference in two cases: the incredible candidates (the school would be foolish not to take this student) or the abysmal candidates (no one would be this student’s roommate). For the rest the interview is more a courtesy to the student.
In HOW TO SUCCEED IN HIGH SCHOOL, I also offer advice for helping to ensure a positive report by an alum interviewer, plus I give a sample interview of how this could be done.
Hats off to my alma mater, Wharton, as well as the other graduate business schools discussed in the Journal article that are improving on the traditional hometown alumni interviews! This focus on consistent interviews gives graduate business school applicants a move level playing field.
P.S. In a separate article in the same Journal issue, Melissa Korn interviewed Elissa Ellis Sangster, executive director of Forte Foundation, “a 10-year organization that provides leadership resources for women.”
I have long been interested in the low number of women attending graduate business schools (I discuss this subject briefly in the second ebook, HOW TO SUCCEED IN COLLEGE). Thus I was also pleased to read Melissa Korn’s reporting in this second article that “University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School was lauded because women made up 45% of its starting class this school year.”
© 2012 Miller Mosaic, LLC