At risk of repeating ourselves – we say this every round – there’s a few things you need to remember when it comes to interviewing:
1. The timing of when you get the interview invite matters not at all. For most schools, there’s no rhyme or reason to it. The main exception to this is Harvard where the bulk of their invites come out on the first day, which simply means that if you’re going to be interviewed at all, there’s a higher probability you’ll be invited in the initial wave only because that’s when most people are. We go into all the details on interviewing at Harvard on our Harvard MBA info page and several posts linked therefrom.
By contrast is the other extreme: Columbia. It’s very common for Bser #A who applied to Columbia weeks ago to still be sitting around in Know-Nothing Limbo, while BSer #B, who submitted just yesterday it seems, gets moved to the interview stage fast.
This happens for several reasons:
- Columbia evaluates apps in the order received, and each app goes through two reviewers, either of whom can issue the interview invite. This means that if you submitted earlier and the first reviewer likes your app, then you’re going to get the interview invite really fast – but if your first reviewer says no, then it needs to go to a second reviewer, so that adds time.
- However, if you submitted later and they like your app, you won’t know that for awhile since they’re trudging through all the other apps that came in before yours.
Both those apps could be equally strong yet one person hears soon and the other doesn’t. It doesn’t matter if your first or your second reviewer invites you; what matters is that you get invited. If you submitted earlier and they DON’T like your app, then you’ll find that out quite quickly, too, since you’ll (uh-oh) get the deny. If you submitted right at the Fellowship deadline 10 days ago then you may not get the deny super fast, since the reviewers are slogging away looking at things once and then twice before deciding your fate. But you may not get the invite right away either and you could still have a strong app that makes it in.
See? No rhyme or reason.
Bottom line: Don’t worry about this stuff, it will only drive you crazy, and even if you knew for a fact that the timing of the invite meant something about how the school perceived your app, what would that do? What would that change? It’s not like you can affect the components of your pitch at this point. If you enjoy the
stress-inducing mania of screen refreshing theoretical guessing game that happens on the applicant forums, then be our guest and go hang out there, but we very rarely see anyone in those forums who actually knows what they’re talking about when it comes to why a school issued an invite to one person and this other person hasn’t gotten one yet.
2. When you do get that interview invitation, after you’re done with your happy dance, you must create a plan to prepare. This is not trivial stuff. Talking about yourself in the right way – not too annoying, not overblown, yet not too meek or demur; with enough detail that you carry your point without overburdening your interviewer with the irrelevant; a focused, polished presentation where you ANSWER THE QUESTIONS thoroughly yet strategically – this takes practice. You do NOT have these skills right now. Regardless of how much you love talking about yourself, this is a different animal entirely. Enlist a friend – or even a computer – and go through your answers in a mock interview setting.
The Interviewing Guide can help you work out your plan of attack, and of course there are plenty more posts here on EssaySnark about interviewing for MBA admissions. If you are lucky enough to land an interview at HBS next week – lucky you! – you will have a lot of work ahead, though that’s true for any interview, frankly. For HBS specifically, we can help with custom interview questions for their open interview, which is also applicable to schools like MIT and NYU.
You’re in very good shape once you’re headed into the interview and the odds are firmly on your side, but this marathon is far from over. Good luck with it!