SgHama's MBA Dream

After 2 years of what if's and worrying about the finances... class of 2008 here I come!

Monday, February 20, 2006

Chicago interview

I did my Chicago interview in Singapore over the weekend on Saturday with a GSB alum who graduated back in 2001. In fact, I had met this very same alum before at an infosession and I lucked out when his name came back during my interviewer search. Anyway we had hit it off during the infosession, and I was hoping that it would carry into my interview.

He suggested Starbucks, and told me to keep it casual and not wear a suit. I came in business casual (shirt and slacks but no tie) just to be safe. Anyway he wore a t-shirt, shorts, and sandals so I was definitely formal enough. I'd just flown in from Tokyo that same morning, so we started off chatting about Japan and traveling schedules. Then we got down to business.

  • Why MBA - I began with my career goals and then went on to why an MBA was necessary. He agreed that it made sense, but drilled down into my career goals, specifically asking me what if I didn't get into firm A, had I considered other areas that I could possibly also work in to achieve my goals, where would I be in five years if things didn't turn out as planned.
  • Why Chicago - Because I'd mentioned that I planned to return to Asia after my MBA, he asked me why not other schools in Asia such as Insead. After I gave him my spiel, he asked me why I wasn't applying for the International MBA program. This caught me offguard - I honestly didn't know the differences between the international MBA and the regular MBA but I think I was able to BS my way through this one...
  • What clubs would you join (non-career oriented ones) - I think I got this question because during my Why Chicago answer, I mentioned some consulting-related activities (e.g. Management Labs, Service Corps, etc.). My answer to this one was ok - and I managed to tie some clubs back to the activities I'd listed on my resume.
  • Give me an example of a challenging project - Because he asked specifically about one of the companies I'd worked for, I chose an example that showed teamwork, leadership, and how I motivated my teammates.
  • Tell me about a time when you faced an unprecendented obstacle and what did you do to overcome it - I used another example from work that hopefully showcased more leadership and initiative.
  • What kind of impression does Chicago GSB give you, and what is the one thing that you would change about it - Ha! He tried to throw a curveball with this one I think. Not sure if I answered it satisfactorily, but I mentioned strong academics/research, but maybe too much focus on theory. Then as I was saying all that I remembered the experiential learning that I mentioned in my Why Chicago answer. Arrrghhh... contradictory answers, but oh well, not the end of the world...
We took about half an hour to go through the questions above, then he asked if I had any questions. Since we'd already spoken pretty extensively before, I just asked him about which classes he felt were "must take" classes and what made him choose Chicago over the other schools he was admitted to. We also spent some time chatting about his own long term goals and the VC industry. In total the whole session lasted about an hour.

I was relaxed and the interview was pretty enjoyable. Face-to-face interviews are definitely easier than phone interviews, and the funny thing is I didn't even really prep for this one - just reread my essays and emails from students I'd contacted to find out more about certain Chicago activities. I will probably do the same for my Wharton interview coming up next Monday (in Tokyo this time). Think it's easier to just wing it sometimes =)

Incidentally I received an email from Chicago just hours before my interview beginning with "Congratulations...." I was like... WHA--??? I'm in already even without the interview???!! Turns out they just wanted to verify some personal information. What an anti climax.


Blogger Forrest Gump said...

looks like you did pretty well. good luck for the Wharton interview as well.

2/20/2006 11:32 PM  
Blogger i_will_make_it said...

lol. We all got that "verification" e-mail. Doesn't mean it didn't make all our hearts pound too. :-) GSB can be so sneaky. hehe.

Great to hear your GSB interview went well! Good luck with W too! It's very interesting how on-campus and off-campus interviews have such different dynamics. My on-campus interviewer was pressed for time because of all the other waiting interviewees. But with alum, the casual setting can allow the conversation to walk in any direction.

As for the int'l MBA q - perhaps because you've already had so much exposure to Asia, you feel that the int'l mba would not benefit you as much. You really want to focus the 2-yrs entirely on the full-time MBA experience - participating in all the clubs, classes, and activities on campus while strengthening your relationships w/ classmates to build partnerships for the future. Taking exchange courses in Asia would take up an entire quarter, and you don't need this exposure because you're already from Asia! :-)

Just an idea. Congrats again on completing the interview!

2/21/2006 1:40 AM  
Blogger i_will_make_it said...

oops. Forgot to answer your q. Unfortunately, I don't have the strength to break. :-( My arms are too weak. lol.

But my dancing goes back to my high school cheerleading days. Joined a team in college. Tons of fun! We competed in Texas and New York - but I was mainly interested in keeping up with the latest dancin' moves and getting the chance to shake my booty. Oh, yeaaaa. If we both end up at the GSB, we should definitely go check out the Chicago club scene!


2/21/2006 1:46 AM  
Blogger MBA Pundit said...

Looks like it went pretty well, good job and all the best for Wharton.

2/21/2006 5:03 AM  
Blogger gunnermba said...

well done sweat for you eh.. what would you do if you got admitted to Chicago and Tuck only? I just finished one Insead interview and it went well too.

2/21/2006 11:49 AM  
Blogger Dinesh said...

Glad to know your interview went well.

I finished mine last week. Just as you, I too got an alum I had spoken to earlier at the info session. Went ok. Couldn't read much into his thoughts on me :-~

2/21/2006 3:32 PM  
Blogger i_will_make_it said...

Aww, thanks for the support, sghama! I sort of "chickened" out on applying to W, so hope you get in for the both of us too!! :-)

2/22/2006 11:44 AM  
Blogger sorebrek said...

She was more like goth-curious, and I was goth-curious-curious? Well, not any more :-)

2/27/2006 2:36 PM  
Blogger AynRand2008 said...

Heyheyhey, here comes a Singaporean. Jia ba bray? (Sorry if you don't understand, this is the only Hokkian I learnt in Singapore after a brief 6 years there). I did my GCE "O" and "A" levels in Singapore. I heard now they don't ship their exam paper to Britain anymore. Is good or bad in your opinion? Congrats on Tuck!

It looks like you are still in Singapore. When are you coming to the States? I went to TJC. I can hook you up with several TJC alums here in the States. Best wishes!

2/28/2006 11:01 AM  

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