Both Sides of the Coin

One of the best things I do at Fletcher each year is work with the students who have volunteered to conduct evaluative interviews.  (Note:  Take advantage of their generous contribution of time by arranging for an interview today!  Student interviews run only through December 10.) And we have a really great group this fall — great not only because they show up on time, but because they have wonderful insights into the process.  Today, Marc Frankel, a MALD student who started last January, shares his unusual dual perspective.

Interviewing for graduate school can be tough – not only have I been there myself, but I’m still there now.  I’m Marc and I’m in my second semester here at the Fletcher School.  I play on the intramural soccer team, I’m in the Fletcher Business Club, and I write the occasional article for the local humor newspaper, the Fletcher Ledger.  I’m also an admissions volunteer, which means that once a week, I spend an hour or so interviewing prospective Fletcher candidates.

During my time here at Fletcher, I’ve decided that I’d like to pursue a joint degree with an MBA program.  I’m in the process of applying to schools now, so I’m writing the same types of essays and enduring the same interview anxiety as many of the prospective students I interview.  Being both an interviewer and an interviewee has given me a few insights I’d like to share with this year’s applicants:

#1)  Be candid.  As an interviewer, I can tell whether you’re legitimately passionate about what you’re applying for or whether you’re just saying what you think we want to hear.  If you’re going to drive all the way up here, get dressed up, and spend an hour with us in an interview, you owe it to yourself to let us get to know you openly and honestly.  I’m a lot more impressed with people who are proud of their accomplishments than I am with someone who spends 20 minutes trying to explain how their job “kinda sorta” fits their idea of a program here.

#2)  Be informed.  This doesn’t mean that you can’t ask questions about the program, but it does mean that you’ve done your homework on the easily-researched basics such as required courses, fields of study, and the number of students here.  These points are all easy to find online, and familiarity shows that you’re serious about your application.

#3)  Do the little things right.  The logo on your shirt or the bond weight of your résumé paper isn’t going to make much of a difference to us, but if you’re late or sloppily dressed, or if you don’t bring a copy of your résumé, we’re going to notice.  Be comfortable at your interview, but treat it professionally.  On that note…

#4)   RELAX!  Believe me, I had the sweaty palms and the jitters before my business school interviews, so I know what you’re going through, but just take it easy.  Your interview is a half-hour when all you really need to do is talk about yourself (the subject you know the most about).  So perk up, smile, and look forward to it.

I know a lot of this is common sense, but I also know how hard it can be to heed common sense when it’s time for your interview.  Just remember to be yourself: the interviewer on the other side of the table will appreciate it.

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