Duke has this great opportunity to get on campus and do a pre-application interview – which is highly recommended. For some American candidates it’s actually required, based on the geography you’re coming from and when you’re applying. The tricky part is how the timing works if you’re doing an Early Action application.
Here’s some advice for any school that offers the on-campus interview to anyone who’s interested in having one – this is the ideal sequence you should be attacking your application if a pre-app interview is part of the mix:
- figure out career goals
- get essays to at least draft 2 or 3
- prep for interview
- visit campus/interview (you need to have your career goals buttoned up for this)
- revise/update essays with new info from campus visit
That exact sequence can be tough to pull off at Duke, given that the first open interview is on September 9th and the EA app is due on the 18th. So there’s some logistical questions for you to juggle as you figure out when is the right time to make your trip to Raleigh-Durham. It’s a similar story with Tuck: The Early Action deadline is early October but you don’t have to have your interview done until early November. If you can pull it off such that you interview BEFORE you finalize and submit your essays, you will be setting yourself up for the best of all possible worlds.
Just make sure that you have those career goals figured out before you go on to the interview.
And also note the separate step in the list above: “#3 prep for interview” – this is not a trivial exercise. You need to plan for this critical showing of your MBA goodness.
If you are visiting a campus and sitting in on a class but not interviewing, there isn’t much “prep” that needs to be done. In all cases it doesn’t hurt to know why you want an MBA before you start to visit the places where they are earned. Formal interview prep should be done only in the lead-up to the interview itself; those skills will grow stale and it’s important to be primed and fresh for the moment.
If you want some excellent advice from a Tuck first year on how to handle your on-campus experience, read this.
Here's what others have said about this:
Thanks for the great post. This is exactly what I am mulling over in the last few days.
How does a pre-app interview differs from a post-app(applicant initiated) on-campus interview? In case of Duke EA, pre-app interview is going to be a bit helpful in doing last minute changes to the essays before the final submit. With the other constraints I have I am unable to decide whether to do the pre-app or post-app on-campus interview.
Can you throw some gyaan(wisdom) on how a pre-app interview can be helpful?
Hey Prodizy —
There’s no difference in the interview experience whether you have it before you submit or after. The ideal sequence is as described in this post – provided you’re prepared. We often see people waste the pre-app interview since they go into it cold, and/or they don’t pay attention along the way and gather useful info to plug into the essays. Those “last minute changes” should be loaded ones if you do this right.
Not sure we have any more gyaan to offer than that. If you’ve got other queries on it, be sure to let us know!
Understood your point – onus is on the candidate to make most of the pre-app interview experience. So what comes out of it cannot be generalized. That’s lot of gyaan right there. Thanks again.
I will really wondering about how to go about this. This really helps. How good an idea is putting off round 1 to do this? Especially if you are in highly represented group.
There’s no one-size-fits-all strategy. For an overrepresented group, Round 1 is recommended, but a campus visit would be, too. It really depends on the entirety of the profile.
I want to apply to duke in round 1 but I am afraid I can’t make it to the applicant-initiated interview in September because I will be staying in the US until early August. So, coming back so early might not be an option for me. By the way, I am from India. What are the odds that Duke will invite candidates for interview if the app is alright? will the app has to be even more amazing to get an invite or will they compare it to all the average apps in the pool? I know these are highly subjective questions, but any insight is appreciated. Thanks.
@manasa5591, it’s great that you’re thinking through all these issues! The adcom doesn’t expect international applicants to travel to the U.S. just for the interview. (For any American applicants: They DO expect you to do so, especially if you live within a reasonable distance!!) Here’s how to look at it: Not getting on campus for the applicant-initiated interview period is not going to hurt you, however someone who can, is going to stand out more. So it’s not a disadvantage if you won’t be able to, but it would be an advantage if you could. Sounds like there’s no chance your current stay could get extended? That would be ideal.
Also though, just doing the on-campus interview is not going to make an Indian applicant a shoo-in; there are simply so many coming from this region right now that it can be gruelingly competitive at such schools. We know that Duke is a top favorite among this pool especially. You need to be way more than ‘average’ in your presentation to have a shot.
They do issue invites to interview once they open the round, just like other schools do, and we see Indian applicants get invited at that stage every year.
Does that answer your questions?
ps: Our Duke guide covers a lot of this, too! Now updated for 2017. 🙂