Ethics and efficacy are not mutually exclusive, even in the highly competitive world of MBA admissions.
Recent events at Wharton concerning their admissions interview process only underscore the need to prepare one’s MBA candidacy strategically and thoughtfully, without taking shortcuts that jeopardize integrity and results.
To summarize the facts as reported by major media, Wharton informed its interviewers in confidence that they should use only a short list of questions supporting a new “behavioral” approach to interviewing. Apparently some of these interviewers leaked these questions to applicants, essentially giving these individuals an advantage over applicants who interviewed earlier without knowing the questions.
Regardless of the intentions behind sharing these questions, the real disservice to applicants was that focusing preparation on a short list of specific questions precluded them from analyzing their overall candidacy and choosing which strengths and examples they feel are most meaningful. This approach also kept the interviewer from having the freedom to decide in real time which aspects of the candidacy needed to be examined.
At The MBA Exchange, our interview prep methodology is not “question-driven” but rather “candidacy-driven.” We encourage our clients to mine their entire professional, academic and personal background in order to select those experiences and achievements that most distinguish themselves. Our approach to interview preparation helps our clients build “stories” that are more spontaneous, engaging and memorable. Most importantly, the applicant is ready to answer any possible question posed by an interviewer.
Gaining admission to highly selective schools like Wharton is challenging by all measures. When the stakes are this high, trying to “game” the system by focusing on a short list of questions cheats the individual from presenting – and the school from hearing – his or her best case for admission.
It’s now quite likely that Wharton will change their interview questions, and perhaps even their overall process. This fiasco is a wake-up call for all applicants that there are no true shortcuts to interview preparation. The key to success is to start with a thoughtful and thorough analysis of the entire candidacy so that it can be conveyed with confidence and clarity regardless of the specific questions posed from across the table.