Five Ways to Know Your Admissions Interview Is Going Well

By the time you get to the interview in the MBA admissions process, you’re probably already miles ahead of where you were just a month or two earlier, when you first started preparing your business school applications. Still, while you’ve perhaps become an expert on yourself, your interview skills may be a little rusty (or, maybe you never fully developed them in the first place).

While no two interviews are the same, we’ve conducted enough of them (and have prepared enough clients for them) that we know how to spot one that’s helping your cause vs. one that’s going down the tubes. Here are some signs that your admissions interview is going well:

  • You come off as confident without being arrogant. Many interview experts stress that you need to project confidence, while others tell their clients they absolutely cannot come off as arrogant. They’re both right, and you need to strike a balance between the two. You don’t want the interviewer to feel sorry for you as you sweat through every question and answer, but as little humility is always appealing.
  • Your answers are succinct. Perhaps the surest sign that an interview is going badly is when you find yourself rambling through answers. This means that you weren’t prepared for the question, or you have an answer but can’t present it in a brief, coherent way. Your answers should be conversational, but should always have a clear beginning, middle, and end, and should take no more than a minute or two each.
  • You manage to get all of your application themes on the table. If you go into the interview knowing that you need to really drive home your leadership ability and your analytical skills, for example, then you absolutely must do that by the end of the interview! Interviews often start off with “Walk me through your resume,” or “Tell me about yourself” — this is a great way for you to hit on your key themes right away.
  • It’s a two-way conversation. Interviewers will vary greatly in their style, but you ideally won’t do all of the talking during your interview. Comments such as “That’s interesting, tell me more,” and “That’s pretty impressive,” are good signs that you’re getting through to your interviewer.
  • … but it’s still an interview. Ideally, you will be able to strike a smart balance between having an enjoyable conversation but still maintaining the structure of the interview, making sure that your themes are covered and that your interviewer covers everything he needs to cover.. After all, when your interviewer is done he needs to answer some questions about you, and he can’t do that if you’ve just spent 45 minutes talking about politics and football. Make it enjoyable, but remember that it’s still an interview!

If you’re now preparing for your admissions interview and want some expert help, take a look at Veritas Prep’s MBA interview preparation services. Also, Your MBA Game Plan contains dozens of sample MBA interview questions to help you get ready. Good luck!

What If I'm Not Passionate About Community Service?

MBA Admissions
Recently we received this question from a business school applicant:

“What if I’m not passionate about doing community service, like seemingly every other business school applicant? Does this make me a bad person? I feel like if I were to do this, it would only be to position myself for b-school and I wouldn’t enjoy it very much. What do these elite b-schools look for in terms of community service?”

This is a common problem, and we credit this applicant for taking a step back and asking the question that many applicants think but do not ask out loud.

If you’re not passionate about something, then you definitely should NOT do it! Keep in mind that community service is one more way for you to demonstrate the four core dimensions that admissions officers look for in every applicant: leadership, maturity, innovation, and teamwork. (These four dimensions are described in great detail in great detail in the MBA admissions book Your MBA Game Plan.) If you can demonstrate these with other activities outside of traditional community service organizations, then that’s terrific.

For instance, this applicant said he likes to coach children and young adults in sports. If that’s what he’s passionate about, then great! Helping young people have a positive experience with sports and competition is a terrific way to help one’s community. We could think of all sorts of great things that applicant could discuss in his essays, as long as it’s something that really matters to him.

Also, keep in mind that admissions officers always ask about every applicant, “How has this person made the community/organization around him better?” The obvious answer is with community service, but that’s not the only possibility. Mentoring a struggling co-worker or finding a creative solution to a thorny problem at work are two less obvious — but in some ways even more relevant to the admissions process — ways to demonstrate that you have a positive impact on others wherever you go. This goes for any type of graduate program, not just business school.

For more help in applying to business school, law school, or medical school, call us at 800-925-7737 and talk to one of our admissions experts today!

Types of Financial Aid for Grad Students

Financial Aid Guide
Last week we announced our new Veritas Prep Guide to Financial Aid, a free resource for new admits or anyone else who’s thinking ahead and wondering how they’ll pay for their graduate degree. We spend most of our time working with applicants who are stressed about just getting into school; how to pay for it is considered a “nice problem to have.” Once you are faced with this problem, however, it will likely hit you like a ton of bricks, so it pays to start thinking ahead and familiarize yourself with the financial aid landscape.

The following descriptions will help students understand the various types of financial aid awards:

  • Scholarships

Online Behavior in Medical School Admissions

Considering the impact of the Internet and social networking sites like Facebook on the admissions process has quickly become a pretty tired story. Yes, students should take care to manage their online presence, but no, admissions officers are unlikely to search every nook and cranny of the Web to “bust” applicants. As it relates to MBA and law school admissions, there’s not much to discuss in this area.

However, that may not necessarily be the case with medical school. CNN recently ran an article about a study conducted by the Journal of the American Medical Association that explored online behavior of medical students and presented some very interesting conclusions. In short, the stakes are higher for med students than they are for their business school or law school counterparts, which may have ramifications on the admissions process.

According to the article, there were six medical schools that reported a violation of patient privacy by one of its students, often in the form of detailed blog posts or Facebook updates. According to CNN, most of the inappropriate student conduct reported in the survey was “related to the student’s own behavior, including drunken, drug-related, or sexually suggestive images or comments, as well as the use of profanity or discriminatory language.” However, that handful of privacy violations is a huge concern, especially considering that some of the violations were reported by the patients, rather than the students.

Obviously, this is going to be a fairly major issue within the medical school community, and you can expect more programs to adopt official policies about the social networking sites. However, a potentially overlooked consideration is how this will impact the admissions process. At the very least, this is a reminder of just how important character and ethics are in a candidate, as the best way to prevent some of these actions is to avoid the types of people who are likely to commit them. Beyond that though, what might we see? All of the old arguments about Facebook suddenly become relevant, because it is more than just a window into a candidate’s life, it is a preview of how they will live and behave on the Internet once they become med students.

It is certainly something to watch and at the very least, medical school applicants will want to be more cognizant of their online behavior than their law and business school counterparts.

For more advice on medical school admissions, call us at 800-925-7737 and talk to one of our admissions experts.

Should Medical School Admissions Requirements Change?

Anyone with even a basic interest in medical school knows that the requirements for pursuing an MD are substantial. Pre-med courses, the MCAT, multiple stages of the application process, interview days — there are a ton of pieces to the puzzle and it all adds up to a tremendous amount of work. Everyone knows it is a grind. But is it the right grind? This is a question that is rarely posed, but that was both asked and answered recently in an important report called Scientific Foundations for Future Physicians, which was described in detail today on the Stanford News Service. This report makes a series of recommendations that call for subtle-yet-important changes in the way medical school candidates prepare for their graduate work.

The report was produced by a 22-person committee, which was tasked jointly by the AAMC (Association of American Medical Colleges) and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute in 2007. The committee was headed by Sharon Long, a Stanford biology professor and a former dean at the university, and calls for the following changes to the existing medical school requirements:

  • Replacing a list of required pre-med courses with a series of “competencies” (knowledge, skill, and attitude).

  • Adding competencies to the med school education as well, to account for increasing reliance on math and physical sciences in everyday medical practices.
  • One example of swapping in competencies for required courses is changing the pre-med requirement of taking calculus with a demonstrated ability to “apply quantitative reasoning and appropriate mathematics to describe or explain phenomena in the natural world.”
  • The goal of the new framework is to push development of undergraduate science coursework and create flexibility for pre-med students to take classes outside of the requirements. (Specifically, the hope is that more pre-med students will take courses like Biochem or Stats, without having to add units of coursework, and that more pre-med students will seek out liberal arts majors.)

Long provided a salient quote that speaks to the overall philosophy behind these recommendations:

“Think about it this way. You can get from the first floor to the second by going up a ramp or by taking the steps. Right now the medical school entrance exam assumes the only way is the steps, and it tests you on each one. We want the exam to test whether you can get to the second floor, not how you got there