We hope you enjoyed our recent Q&A with Sherry Wallace of UNC Kenan-Flagler. During the session we discussed a number of important topics related to UNC admissions, student life, scholarships, and more. If you missed this informative event, or if you’d like to review, you can read the whole UNC Kenan-Flagler Q&A transcript, listen to the full audio clip online, or subscribe to our podcast in iTunes and catch as many of the MBA Admissions Q&As as you want.
Here is a section from the UNC Q&A on the role interviews play in the admissions process:
Linda Abraham: Fred asks “I’m interviewing on campus next week — How much will my interviewer know about me, my application, resume, et cetera?” And then I would like you, after you answer Fred’s specific question, to just address the whole issue of interviews; what can people expect, what’s the role of the interview in the admissions process, et cetera?
Sherry Wallace: Oh great! I’m going to answer the specific question for a person who is going to interview. Kenan-Flagler tries to do interviews relatively blindly, which means that your interviewer will have your resume and little else. Sometimes, depending on where we are in the admissions cycle, it’s possible that your interviewer may have also read your application, but in general they have not and we would prefer that they have not because we want the interview to be just another input. We’re going to have input from the people who read your applications, we’re going to have input from your recommenders, we’re going to have your test scores — we’re going to have all of those things to consider, and we’d like to have, in addition to that, someone who’s spent about 30 minutes with the candidate to tell us what he or she was like in that 30-minute window. So, you should assume they’ll only have your resume.
Linda Abraham: Are the interviewers usually students, alumni, or members of the admissions team?
Sherry Wallace: All of our interviewers are members of the admission team. We do not currently have students serving in that role, although we certainly would have many capable students, but we prefer to have our students be your advocates. When you visit Kenan-Flagler or you reach out to a student, we want you to feel very comfortable that this is someone who’s going to answer my question, who’s going to be all about me, and is not necessarily evaluating me and passing that along to the admissions committee. We do have alumni that we have trained as extended members of the admission committee, and generally the alumni are only doing interviews outside the US where we just would like to be able to offer more face-to-face opportunities than we, as a staff, have the ability to travel. Whether you interview by phone with a member of the committee, by webcam which has become very popular, or face to face with an alumnus or one of us on campus, they all carry the same weight. We have no preference, whatever is most convenient for the applicant to do the interview in the time they need to do it. Usually our interviews last about 30 minutes, maybe as long as 45 minutes, depending on how much question and answer there is.
Linda Abraham: Okay, great. And what is the role of the interview in the evaluation process?
Sherry Wallace: Despite what most people think, I don’t know anyone who interviews their way into a program.
Linda Abraham: Usually you interview your way out of a program.
Sherry Wallace: Yes. I probably have known a few people who have revealed a little something more in an interview that may not have been for us. And I appreciate the sensitivity because I know I personally feel like if I could just get in front of somebody and talk to them, I can be more compelling. But the truth is, and this is why we are currently interviewing by invitation only — and that is because there are some candidates that no matter how engaging, no matter how well they articulate themselves, there are going to be things about their candidacy that just don’t make them competitive with the pool that they’re being considered against. And so we try to say, rather than interviewing everyone knowing that to X% of these people the interview is not really going to matter because they don’t have adequate work experience, or because based on their English proficiency level, it is not going to go well. Or because of some other thing that we’ve seen in their application, their academic performance or whatever else — there’s really nothing they can do in this interview that’s going to overcome that. So that’s why it’s not important that we interview everyone.
One of the things that concerns people is my gosh, I haven’t been invited to the interview, so that must mean I’m denied even though you haven’t told me I’m denied. That’s not true. There are some people that we go out early and invite them to interview. Maybe there are some early indicators that this person looks like they could be competitive; strong test scores, strong academic record, they’ve been strongly recommended to us by an employer or an alumnus — someone we remember meeting at an event that we know their best background, the package. So there are some people that are going to get invited to interview and they’re wondering, I haven’t even submitted anything yet. So that does happen. Then there are other people that may not get invited to interview until someone has actually read everything in their application, because maybe you’re that candidate that has an average GMAT, had a fine academic record, but when someone read the whole package and put it altogether, the conclusion was this person is very strong, even though they’re not necessarily standing out in any one area. And so that person is likely to get an invitation to interview later in the process because it wasn’t until the whole thing had been reviewed that they did stand out.
But I want people to be assured you’re not going to get denied just because you didn’t interview. You might get waitlisted, and that gives you time to get an interview, or we might reach out to you maybe a week or two, perhaps even days, before you were expecting a decision, to say we’d like for you to interview. But we’re not going to deny someone simply because they didn’t interview, if it looks like they have the ability to be competitive.
Linda Abraham: Great. Once you’ve extended that interview invitation and the person’s interviewed and you have whatever feedback you got from the person who did the interviewing, what role does the interview information play in the evaluation process? Is it a make or break or is it another piece of data?
Sherry Wallace: It’s another piece of data, and usually what we find is that things are kind of pointing in the same way. Remember, one of the inputs is letters of recommendation, and sometimes we’ll see comments from the recommenders that are consistent with observations of the interviewer. Most of the time it’s the interview points pretty much in the same direction that everything else was pointing, and sometimes it’s that icing on the cake to just say, you know, absolutely, this is what we thought. and this is what the interview confirmed; good and bad.
View the full UNC Kenan-Flagler Q&A transcript or listen to the mp3 recording of the event now or subscribe to the Apple iTunes MBA Admissions Podcast. If you like the podcast, please leave a 5-star review.
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