One Click Up

One Click Up

This time of year there’s plenty of occasions to present yourself well.  As an MBA applicant, not only will you be going to interviews, but you will also be invited to various social events throughout the holiday season.  Practice the one-click up technique to always make a great impression.

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

If you applied during round one, you are hopefully by now receiving interview invitations from some of your target schools.  While preparing for this stage can certainly be a stressful time, most applicants find excitement and take comfort in being identified as someone the schools want to talk to.  Some of the most common questions you will likely face will be about your strengths and weaknesses.  Are you ready to answer them?

Video: How to Prep For Your Business School Interview

Video: How to Prep For Your Business School Interview

Paul Lanzillotti, founder of the Amerasia Consulting Group, walks you through how to handle your MBA interview. Learn how to answer representative questions; structuring your thoughts using "stories" versus the "pyramid principle" and connecting all aspects of your MBA application for your interviewer.  

This in-depth video is approximately 1 hour and 20 mins in duration.

Responding to Your HBS Admissions Decision

Today is one of those days on the calendar that tend to stop everyone in their tracks and dominate the headlines.  Nevermind that the Kellogg Round 1 deadline is tomorrow or that some people found out today that they were admitted to MIT - no, it's all about the HBS Round 1 notification deadline.  Interview or ding?  Rather, interview or ding or deferral, as that appears to be a popular option this year as well.  Let's make sense of things and offer some advice on how to respond from here.  We'll group it result-by-result. 

The row about Wharton's new behavioral interview questions ...

The row about Wharton's new behavioral interview questions is mostly bullshit.

Yes, I know my opinion is a little late on this one, but I just wanted to provide an alternative POV to what I am reading online.  Whether or not Wharton denied they were out in the wild or rogue admissions consultants gamed the system or 2010 round one Wharton applicants were adversely affected - is basically smoke and mirrors.  If some consultants went to the darkside, that is not cool.  I'm not condoning it.  However, it really has no effect on the point of the interview process - to see if you present yourself in a manner that tells the interviewer you won't embarrass yourself or the school should you enter the pearly gates of Wharton or any other top program.  In layman's terms - do you have all your teeth, form complete sentences and chew with your mouth closed? 

Why is this?
Beyond face value, the new questions are not any different from the old questions that Wharton put forth.  Seriously, they really are not.
Let's not pretend interview prep is some black art.  The only difference is that each question will provide the opportunity for each applicant to include or leave out an "appropriate" amount of information.  That is, the new format is slightly more of an exercise in evaluating when an interviewee knows when to shut up.
Let's get real, if an applicant prepares correctly, they will have no problem answering the following questions - at Wharton or at any other top MBA program.  Keep in mind, all schools pretty much as the same questions.
The "new" "behavioral" interview questions at Wharton: 

  1. Tell me about a time when you worked in a group to complete a task, which required you to consider the opinions or feelings of others.
    • This is what I tell my clients.
    • This is a leadership question that asks you to detail a story.
    • Story answers always follow this (trademarked) format - SCARA - Situation, Complication, Actions, Results, Applicability
    • Hint: Leadership action means that you are leading other people - so you are in a team - being a good team leader requires considering and reconciling opposing opinions.
    • Results are both quantitative and qualitative.
    • See if you can take your answer and loop it back to the school.
    • If you can't answer a question like this, with 3 to 4 examples, well then, we wouldn't have applied to Wharton ...
  2. Describe a time when you contributed to a team that didn't have a clear or appointed leader.
    • This is what I tell my clients. See the above. Just tweak to cover a power vacuum where you stepped up.
    • Every decent applicant should have an answer to this for every school.  Think about it, chances are that you already answered this question (correctly) in your essays. It's not rocket science.
  3. Explain a time when your ideas were challenged, when you had to defend your opinion and/or approach.
    • This is what I tell my clients. See question number one above.
    • Mix this one up and provide an outside of work example - if you have not done so already.
Before I get flamed, let's examine some old interview questions from year's past:
  1. How would you describe your leadership style?
    • Oh snap, this is basically question number 1.
    • A good answer here means providing an example.  The same example you could use for question number 1 above.
    • The only tweak I would make is to use a Pyramid format, instead of SCARA format above.
  2. How would your colleagues describe you if you left the room?
  3. If you were the CEO of your company what would you do differently?
    • Dizzamn, questions 2 and 3 here are remarkably similar to the "new" "behavioral" Wharton question 2 above.  You can't fool me Wharton.
    • For question 2 here - your colleagues would describe you as a leader who steps up to fill a power vacuum.  Then they would provide an example - an example very, very similar to the one you would give in question 2 above.
    • For question 3 here - you would talk about stepping up as a leader to make sure there was clear organization.  Then you would provide an example - an example very, very similar to the one you would give in question 2 above.
  4. Please give me an example in which you exemplified leadership?
  5. Please describe a team situation that did not work?
    1. Questions 4 and 5 here can be answered by the example provided in question 3 above.
TL:DR - The bottom line is that if you prepared correctly for your interview, you know the questions are really the same.  All these "new" questions would require is adjusting your approach slightly and perhaps on the fly.  In fact, all these questions have been online for years.  The more things change, the more they stay the same.  Win - Wharton.
If you need help with determining your fit with Wharton – either comprehensively or just stress testing your essays to make sure they hit the mark – email us at to schedule a complimentary consultation.

How to Dress Properly for a Business School Interview.

As an MBA admissions consultant I often have to take a step back with my clients.  Over the years I have learned a lot from my clients and have come to realize that the definitions of proper interview dress or attire varies by region, country and even culture.

This is the deal, and I dissuade anyone from thinking anything to the contrary:

  1. Wear a dark colored suit (Grey, Black, Charcoal) with a white or light blue shirt.
  2. Wear a tie that has as little design or pattern in it at possible.  Solid colored ties are good.
  3. Wear shoes that are polished with dark socks.  By shoes I mean dress shoes with dark laces, not “comfort” shoes, timberlands or Uggs.  By dark I mean dark blue or black.
  4. Do not wear anything that is tight-fitting or shows body parts excessively.  This is an interview not a club.
  5. Cut the tags off your clothing.  Nothing says Men’s Wearhouse $199 special than tags still sewn onto the sleeve of a jacket.  Don’t laugh too much, I have seen this as an MBA admissions interviewer.  It tells me the applicant is clueless at worst or knows a good sale when he sees one at best.
  6. Get a shave and a haircut……shower.