Most people will want to research the person that they will be meeting with. If you know who your MBA interviewer will be, should you do that? Should you do a bunch of Googling and Linked-In’ing and other social media stalking to find out all the intimate details of this person’s life?
Some basic LinkedIn searching might be warranted.
But what will it give you if you know stuff about them?
First of all, not all schools tell you who you’re interviewing with. If you are going on campus for your interview, you might not even be told in advance if you’ll be meeting with a student or an admissions person.
Our advice — which you’re welcome to totally disregard — is that if you’re meeting with an admissions committee member, do not stalk them on social media. Read their LinkedIn, sure. See if they’re featured on the school’s website in a professional bio. But leave it at that.
Many schools do not have much published about their admissions team on their websites beyond the deans of admissions. If your school does not post the profile about the admissions person you’re meeting with, respect this. Don’t go looking for more.
Or, if your school does actually publish more information, like UC-Berkeley Haas does right there on their Full-Time MBA >> Admissions >> Contact Us page then hey, that’s fair game! They are signalling quite loudly that they want you to know who they are. Pro Tip: They’re also sharing with you information that they would value from you! Whether you’re interviewing with a student or an admissions person or an alum, if you’re interviewing at Haas, then be prepared to talk about some stuff about yourself with your Haas interviewer that’s in the same vein as what their admissions folks have shared on that page.
What if your school shares next to nothing about your interviewer on their website? Should you go on a Googling frenzy anyway and dig up details about their childhood and where they went to college and what their favorite color is?
Because that’s creepy.
That can especially seem like a crossing of boundaries if you’re interviewing with someone who’s much more senior to you — who grew up before social media.
You don’t want to announce to your interviewer that your ex-girlfriend lives in their same neighborhood because, like, that’s just way too much intimate knowledge for a complete stranger to have about them.
Don’t shock them with the amount of investigation you’ve done on them.
Before you embark on any type of internet sleuthing on your interviewer, ask yourself: “Why do I need to know this? How will information about this person change my strategy?”
In almost all cases, IT WON’T.
If it’s just about trying to gain control over the situation, knowing more about it so that the imbalance is lessened and your anxiety can go down… We get it. That’s common. A lack of information can be really hard to handle; it can make you feel vulnerable, and make you more nervous than you need to be. So, this might be about knowing yourself, and understanding your motivations. Is there some other way you can manage your nervousness so that you feel in control? What about spending more time preparing your content, so that you feel ready for any line of questioning that the interviewer takes you in?
What about speaking with a few more students or alum about their own experiences with their MBA interview at this school?
Try channeling that nervous energy in a more productive direction.
It would really suck if you blurted out something about how cute your interviewer’s dog is, because you found a picture on social media — and that stops the conversation cold (what if the dog just got sick? what if you saying that makes the interviewer start crying? OMG what if what if what if?).
Just steer clear. Don’t tempt fate. Don’t put information in your own head that would be potentially risky if it came out unintentionally. You don’t need to know about your interviewer’s pets — and we would actually suggest that in most cases, you don’t even need to know about your interviewer’s background.
If you’re interviewing at a school that sets you up with an alumni interview, then you’re going to know more about this person because you’re going to meet them at their workplace (hopefully! if they suggest meeting you at a coffee shop, resist! resist! resist! we cover the challenges of interviewing at Starbucks in our MBA Interviewing Guide) which means you’re going to know where they work. Which means that yes, you should at least know what they do. And questions about how they got there are absolutely appropriate, when it comes time for you to ask questions of them (again, all covered in the Interviewing Guide!).
But be conservative about how, and where, you introduce your knowledge of them.
Mostly, you’ll want to follow their lead.
If your interviewer says, “Hey, I went to your college!” then obviously it’s fair game to talk about that college experience with them.
When you’re in the prep-and-practice phase, then ask yourself Why? you’re embarking on each task in your process. Knowing stuff about your MBA interviewer? We’d offer that maybe, that’s not quite as important as you may think.