A bad interview experience is understandably very stressful, and if this happens to you, you may be wondering if you should contact the MBA admissions office about it.
If you have a legitimate issue with your interview, then you need to alert the adcom about it right away. If you don’t – if you wait till you’re rejected before raising the alarm – then it just doesn’t reflect so positively. In other words: It will likely come across as sour grapes.
What is a “legitimate issue” where this type of communication to the adcom is justified?
There’s been several occasions where BSers have come to us (sometimes in tears) reporting a bad interview experience. In only a few instances did it seem to us appropriate for them to contact admissions about it. In others, it just seemed like things got off on the wrong foot in the interview and neither party was able to recover. Sometimes interviewers do seem to have a chip on their shoulder, but even when that’s the case, there’s little that can be done about it. One possible exception is when the interviewer directly states that they think you’re not qualified for their school. That’s not their place to say. The facts are that the adcom has invited you to interview, so the adcom has already deemed you qualified. (We’re not talking about Kellogg or other interview-everyone schools here, though in those cases, too, it’s not up to the interviewer to be making any pronouncements about your candidacy.) If the interviewer says something derogatory about your profile or fit to their schools, and the interview climate gets hostile or you feel they were antagonistic towards you, then sure, it might be something to communicate to the admissions office.
If you do, make sure that you work out what you’re going to say, and be very calm, cool and collected when you call them up. Stick to the facts only. You may even want to practice what you’ll say, in advance, so that you can be sure that it comes off as professionally and clearly as possible.
The admissions office should always be receptive to such calls.
Will it affect anything in your actual application process? Hard to say.
In the few cases where we agreed that a BSer had such a poor experience in the interview based on what they shared with us about it, the adcoms offered to arrange a second interview. We can’t guarantee that that’s what you’ll get out of it, but at least it gives you a chance for a do-over.
For those BSers who only reported the bad interview experience after they received a reject decision, sometimes they too were offered a make-up interview experience, but in those isolated cases, they still weren’t accepted after the second one.
We’ve only ever once heard of an interviewer who was totally inappropriate (the BSer felt that there were derogatory comments made, racist/sexist stuff). That BSer was accepted to their school, so it ended up not affecting anything except for giving them a very bad taste for the school community.
Remember that there will always be different personalities attending any school. It’s just like real life. Sometimes you end up in a community with people who you don’t like. In fact, HOPEFULLY you will end up in such a community at bschool, because “diversity” means bringing people together from all parts of the socioeconomicpolitical spectrum. Learning to disagree in a civil manner, politely and with respect, is super important. But everyone has a bad day from time to time. It’s very possible that a comment is misinterpreted, or even mis-heard. Just because you THINK that someone said something offensive does not mean that that was their intention. There are so many grey areas out there, and in the high-stakes environment of an MBA interview then it’s possible for miscommunications to get blown way out of proportion.
Most people have smooth interview experiences. In case you do not, then there are steps you can take, if you feel strongly enough about it. Will speaking up about it change your fate with that school? There is no way to tell. If it will make you sleep better at night, then reporting to the adcom about your negative experience might be worth it. Just make sure you do it from a place of rationality and clear thinking.