The 5-P’s of a Perfect Business School Interview

As a former Associate Director of a business masters program at Duke who also got his MBA there, I’ve learned over the years what distinguishes an average b-school interviewer from an exceptional one. While most applicants understand that they need to prepare for an interview, it’s how they do so that often leads to less than optimal results. Here are my 5 P’s to a Perfect B-school Interview: Purpose Applicants often make the mistake of anticipating interview questions and preparing answers for them without first asking themselves, “What’s the purpose of this question?” You must understand why you are being asked the question before you start thinking about what to say – especially with open-ended questions. Applicants who don’t do this tend to ramble a lot.  For instance, take a common b-school interview question: “Why do you want to attend School X?” Many applicants tend to launch into how School X has great academics, great job placement, great culture and other generic stuff that gives no insight into them whatsoever. Why? Because they took the question at face value instead of truly understanding the purpose of the question, which is “What specifically about School X will help you achieve your goals?” You will come up with very different answers if you prepare your response based on the reframed second question versus the first one. So make sure you understand the purpose first. Otherwise, you may not be answering the question. Personalization and Precision Even when applicants understand a question’s purpose, their responses still tend to be mediocre because their answers are too general and generic instead of personalized and...

Are European MBA Programs A Good Fit For You?

Are you applying to business school in 2015? If so, are you including European MBA programs on your target list? Here are three reasons to consider applying to European programs: If you don’t want to spend two years out of the workforce. Most European MBA programs run for 12-18 months, as opposed to the classic two-year full time American MBA. The condensed European format means that you spend less time out of the workforce. This can be advantageous financially, both because there is a diminished opportunity cost, and also because the European programs are less expensive in an absolute sense. If you want a truly international career. While both domestic and European programs draw students from all over the world, the top European programs have an eclectic, diversified student body. (At Tuck, for instance, around 33% of the class is international, while at London Business School the average is 89%.) Students in European programs benefit from learning and building relationships in a truly global community. Schools like London Business School, INSEAD, HEC and IESE also have global brand recognition, which can help graduates find employment both domestically and abroad after graduation. If your GMAT or GRE is somewhat low. The average GMAT at Harvard Business School is 730, while the average GMAT at INSEAD is 702. At London Business School, it’s 700. While these are still impressive numbers, European programs tend to place less emphasis on test scores, and have historically accepted strong American candidates with test scores that don’t reflect their potential. Nevertheless, the caliber of student and of instruction is exceptionally high at the best European programs,...

Applying to Business School

When applying to business school, there are certain characteristics and experiences that distinguish and qualify applicants in the business school admissions process. Unlike medical school or law school, there aren’t any so-called “pre-business requirements.” Instead, every business school has a unique set of qualities and characteristics that they look for in an applicant. When applying to business school, every applicant should consider the following: 1. Leadership is crucial. The term leadership is overused and misunderstood. To successfully demonstrate leadership on your application, you need to understand what leadership is, and demonstrate it correctly. To us, leadership is more than a position or a promotion. Leadership is realizing a need and stepping up to fill it. Leadership is the ability to take initiative. It is a certain confidence in your abilities, ideas, and even your flaws. It is the ability to motivate others and so on. 2. Diversity of experiences is very important. By the above statement, we do not mean diverse in the sense of race, ethnicity, religion, or nationality. We mean a diversity of experiences and perspectives. Business schools are not looking to fill their entire class with investment bankers or consultants or entrepreneurs. They are looking for special sets of skills and opinion and perspectives that add uniquely to the classroom and beyond. 3. Explain why you’re different. How are your experiences at your employer different from everyone else’s? When applying to business school, you will be competing against thousands of students with similar backgrounds as yours. They will be coming from elite colleges. They will be coming from the same industry. They will have many of...

Is Business School Worth It?

An MBA degree significantly adds to your academic credentials, enables you to qualify for high-paying jobs, and helps you achieve both your personal and professional goals. Considering the time, money, and effort you will spend on applying and going to business school, it’s important that you ask yourself, “Is business school really worth it?” Applying to Business School Business school requires a huge commitment of time and money. If you decide to pursue a full-time business program, you will have to quit your job and give up two years worth of salary. On the other hand, if you still want to keep your job, you will have to attend a part-time business school program, in which you will be taking night classes for longer than 3 years. The business school application process is a long and tedious journey, which involves taking the GMAT or GRE, filling out applications, writing admissions essays, gathering letters of recommendation, polishing your resume, attending interviews, and choosing the right MBA program. If you get in, congratulations! However, this is where the real work begins… Advantages of Going to Business School There are definitely benefits of business school, and no doubt that an MBA degree will improve your career. Business school can be a way to rebrand yourself, switch careers, or jump further ahead in your current profession. It can also help you expand your knowledge about the business world and vastly expand your professional network. Attending business school provides very extensive business and management training by which you will discover business contacts and create many long-term, meaningful professional relationships. Needless to say, acquiring a...

5 Ways to Overcome GRE Test Anxiety 

1. Know The Test. Some bad news about the GRE is it tests virtually nothing you learned in college and nothing you will work on in graduate school. So unless you’ve been practicing geometry in college or studying etymology, the GRE is going to take preparation. But there is good news: the GRE only tests a limited number of subjects, and it will test them every time. Cylinders? Yes. Pyramids? No. Make a list of the types of questions you see in your prep work – triangles, standard deviation, probability, etc. – and assess your relative level of confidence. Still struggling with permutations and combinations? Now you know where to focus. When doing your prep work, focus on the areas that need the most improvement. When doing the test, focus on the areas you score the best.   2. Practice and Review The GRE tests a limited range of content, but knowing the range is useless without knowing how to approach the content. Think of this like Pavlovian conditioning – when you see words like “both” and “neither” in the same question, you have found a group formula question. When you take the actual test, you want your response to be automatic. The GRE is as much as knowing what to do as it is knowing how to do. Make flashcards for all of the types of math questions, how to recognize them and what to do. Possibly the single best way to improve your score without a tutor is to do practice tests and drills, review the questions you got wrong, and ask yourself why the right answer...

Raise your GMAT Score from 600 to 700

Have you finally hit your 600 goal in your GMAT prep? Or maybe you’ve just taken your first practice test and you’re looking where to go. Chances are that if you are scoring a 600, you have already mastered a couple of strategies. For example, you can probably regularly eliminate 2-3 answers on any given verbal question. What follows are a few tips for getting the right answer more often.   General Tips These tips should help any test-taker in the verbal section, whether your test is tomorrow or two months from now. Review Your Practice Questions. It is not enough to do drills and practice tests to monitor your results. One of the single best ways to improve your score is to go through every question you got wrong (or better: every question, right or wrong) and understand why the right answer is right, why the wrong answers are wrong, and why you chose as   you did. The Verbal section can be surprisingly formulaic, and seeing the tricks and traps from the opposite end will make you more familiar with the test. (in Reading Comp and Arguments) Predict the Answers. This is one of the biggest overall tips for working in the Verbal Section. This isn’t recommended for grammar questions, because your predicted response might not be listed. But the answers in the Reading and Argument questions are designed over a period of years, and they are intended to trick you. If you know what you are looking for before you approach the questions, you’re less likely to be led astray. Don’t Try to Figure Out How You’re...

An Introduction to the GRE Webinar Recording

This is a recording of a webinar we recently conducted.  Rich Carriero leads the session and discusses everything a student needs to know about the GRE.  Rich has over 10 years of experience teaching the GRE and has worked with well over 500 students to help them achieve their GRE goals.  Watch this recording if you want to learn:   What the GRE is really testing. How to approach questions on test day. How the GRE is scored. What a CAT is. How to effectively prepare for the GRE.   Next Step Test Preparation provides one-on-one GRE tutoring programs...