This post is part of a series exploring the different forms MBA interviews take and how you can ace them all!
Kellogg and Rotman among many others have included required video essays in their applications.
Why adcoms use this method:
• It allows the adcom to see the applicants respond in almost-real-time to questions.
• It allows the adcom to test applicants’ ability to organize their thoughts and present a response that is both meaningful and succinct.
• Applicants “shine” in different ways, and an applicant who shines in interpersonal communication and charisma may not make it to a competitive interview with written essays; now the adcom can spot these applicants.
• Similarly, someone may shine in the conventional written essays, but be inappropriate or unprofessional in presentation, and the adcom can now spot and weed out these applicants early, without expending additional resources on interviews.
Process: Typically, you click on a link in the application, and you are given a question to answer in a specified time. You are being timed, so you can’t halt the process, go away for an hour and plan a careful response. But some applications give you a minute or so to compose your thoughts; others let you practice with sample questions and the same format.
Benefits and pitfalls for applicants:
• Benefit: if you present yourself comfortably and are photogenic, the medium plays to these strengths.
• Benefit: the process may take less time than a written essay.
• Benefit: for non-native English speakers, you can demonstrate solid English speaking skills—especially beneficial if you have a low verbal GMAT score and/or borderline TOEFL.
• Benefit: The skills and attributes it highlights differ from and complement those highlighted by written essays, improving the chances for different kinds of applicants to shine in the initial application.
• Pitfall: you have a limited time and can’t second guess your answer; once it’s done it’s done (whereas with a written essay you can revise it up until submission if you have further thoughts for improving it).
• Pitfall: although the adcoms call it a conversation, it actually isn’t very natural or comfortable to talk into a camera with no human response; some people need practice to overcome discomfort with this medium.
• Pitfall: for people who are methodical, the short prep and answer time works against your natural inclination and doesn’t play to your strength.
While not exactly a pitfall, there’s also the reality that even though adcoms strive for objectivity in evaluating applicants, the video essay creates the potential for them to be subjectively influenced (pro or con) by an applicant’s physical appearance early in the “weeding” process.
How to make this type of interview work for you (this is in addition to all the common sense advice for good MBA interviews):
• Review Accepted.com’s tips for this interview format.
• Practice with a video camera, YouTube, or other formats, speaking to a camera without a person involved.
• Practice coming up with short answers to a range of questions – limit your prep time so it’s similar to the video essay’s, and find a technique that works for you for gathering your thoughts quickly and identifying a key point or message.
• Consider the whole visual picture: not just having hair combed and appropriate attire, but also the background and lighting – all should enhance the presentation.
• The adcoms say they want a spontaneous, natural experience of the applicant, but it may not be natural for you to look at and speak to a non-responsive camera. It’s the illusion of naturalism; it’s acting, it’s performance, essentially. To create your best impression, understand and analyze your gestures, cadence, tone – what makes your presentation reflect “you” effectively? A good actor is deliberately and thoughtfully natural, not mindlessly natural. You’re actually performing your best self.
The best way to ensure that you are prepared for your MBA interviews is to practice with a pro! Check out our Mock Interview Services and learn what you can do to ace those interviews and get accepted to business school!Cindy Tokumitsu has advised hundreds of successful applicants, helping them gain acceptance to top MBA and EMBA programs in her 20 years with Accepted. She would love to help you too. Want Cindy to help you get Accepted? Click here to get in touch!
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