As Yale SOM Admissions Director Bruce DelMonico wrote in early 2014, the work that goes into your application overall should prepare you well for the video questions. Below are a few more insights to help you answer them with confidence.
How does it work? Once you submit your written application, a new link will appear on your applicant status page. You’ll need a computer with a webcam and microphone. You’ll have just one practice question and then the real questions will begin. Once you start the official questions, you’ll have just 20 seconds to gather your thoughts for each question and up to one minute to respond. This may not seem like much time to develop a cohesive answer, but think about an in-person interview: You’re asked a question and respond immediately, usually within two or three seconds.
What are they looking for? You’ll be asked three questions that are meant to elicit some insight on who you are, how you act, and how you think. As DelMonico mentions in his blog post, the school isn’t looking for a perfect level of polish. In fact, the more off-the-cuff your remarks seem, the more likely you are to come across as authentic. You shouldn’t ramble for 90 seconds, but your answers should be just as they probably would be in an in-person interview: imperfect, yet succinct and convincing. We don’t know about the other admissions officers, but Bruce told us that he doesn’t even look at the videos when he’s reviewing applications; he simply listens to them.
What will I be asked? The questions aren’t intended to be difficult. One question will ask for a quick introduction about yourself. If there’s something new that you can provide with your answer, it would be nice to offer new value with this question. Something like “My resume will tell you that I’m X, Y, and Z, but my friends would say that…” will utilize the more personal medium of video to offer additional context not found elsewhere in your application. The second question will ask a behavioral question along the lines of “Tell me a time when….” Consider a number of stories beforehand that address several different situations, such as overcoming an obstacle, leading a challenging team, using creativity to solve a problem, and so forth. Try to utilize stories that you haven’t already used in your written essay. In your final question, you’ll likely be faced with a statement with which you need to agree or disagree. You’ll be asked to take a stand and provide your reasoning. This is a quick exercise to see how well you think on your feet.
What are some tips for success? We recommend that in addition to the practice question offered by Yale, you practice recording yourself with your webcam in the place where you’re going to record the real thing. Are there distractions in the background? Will the admissions officer be able to hear you? Do you use lots of filler words (um, er, ya know, etc.)? Again, SOM doesn’t expect this to be a professional production, but reducing distractions will be helpful. Practice answering questions similar to those we’ve described. You want to be natural and conversational in the actual recording, so we don’t recommend memorizing your answers, or you may come off as stilted. Dress in business attire, as you would in your admissions interview. Lastly, relax! This is meant to be a fun conversation between you and the admissions committee member, so don’t be afraid to let your personality come through.