As a former member of the admissions committee (adcom) at UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School, I can share with you some of the groups I had to answer to in the MBA admissions process.
Whether you interview with a member of the admissions committee, an alum, or a second-year student, it is helpful to think about your MBA interview from the adcom’s point of view. These are some of the groups that the adcom—and the candidate!—must keep in mind during the application process:
The Career Management Center
Essentially, people on the admissions side are making a bet on how you will fare in the recruiting process. If the admissions team admits candidates who struggle in the recruiting process, you can be sure the Career Management Center will be beating a path to the adcom’s door to discuss this. You need to present yourself professionally and have career goals that make sense given your past work and the program’s resources.
Much of the learning in an MBA program happens within your peer group. All students in the class must have something valuable to share with their classmates whether it is their Excel wizardry skills, their knowledge of business negotiations in China, or their ability to create persuasive presentations. Give your interviewer a sense of the value you will add in the classroom, on project teams, and in extracurricular activities.
Faculty and staff
Since you have been invited to interview, the adcom thinks you can handle the academic rigor of the program. The interview provides a glimpse of how you handle yourself professionally. Will you be a student who monopolizes conversations in the classroom or in group projects, or will you be an active and supportive listener and teammate?
The brand of a school lives on through the quality of its graduates. At many schools, alumni interact with current students in the recruiting process and also in their companies as new recruits join their firms. If new hires do not represent the brand well, the alumni will let the adcom know!
The university at large
Universities thrive because their schools produce engaged and successful alumni who give back. Will you be a “net giver” or a “net taker?” The adcom looks for students who have made positive contributions to their undergraduate institutions, companies, and communities. Highlight examples to demonstrate that you will be one of the alums who is looking to build a lifelong partnership.