Tag: admissions (page 1 of 8)

The MBA Admissions Interview: How to Totally Crush It

From the Texas Full-Time MBA Admissions Committee

You submit your application. You wait and wait and then, TA DA! An interview invitation appears in your inbox.  Your immediate reaction is probably several mental exclamation points (!!!), but I think it’s fair to say that all MBA applicants feel pretty dichotomous when it comes to the interview experience. Something like:

Yay I got invited to interview! But oh my goodness, now I’m totally freaked out and have a million questions; What are they going to ask? Should I be myself or should I open with a joke I read online? Should I bring my resume in strawberry-scented triplicate? What do I wear? Should I interview on-campus, via Skype, or off-campus? Is it better to interview with a current student, admissions officer or alumni? Should I send a follow-up thank you via email, a hand-written card, or none at all?  How do I set up the interview in the first place?! Eeek!

Breathe. Like anything else, your MBA interview invitation is an opportunity. While some applicants may look forward to it, others may not exactly enjoy the anxiety. If you are a member of the latter group, look at it this way: this interview can be just the thing the Admissions Committee needs to stitch together the rest of your application elements with a genuine, prepared, and poised interview performance.

The interview affords one of the only formal opportunities for official face-to-face interaction during the application process. Seize it.

You are most likely applying and subsequently interviewing with multiple MBA programs. This means managing several different interview processes, a complicated project given the variability among schools. It’s important to be familiar with how the Texas MBA Program runs its interview operations.

Instructions are plastered all over the email invitation to interview and the online systems you use to book the interview, so be sure to read all instructions very carefully before scheduling anything. Generally speaking, our interview structure is this:

Interviews are by invitation only and can come at any time during the application round. There are four different interview types: on-campus with a student, via Skype with a student, off-campus in your local city with an alumni interviewer, or at a HUB city location with an admissions officer. For each type (excluding alumni interviews) there is an online calendar from which you can select an interview slot that works with your schedule. We will inform you of the last date your interview needs to be completed. The only exception to this is booking an interview in your local city with an alumni interviewer; that process is slightly different, but we provide the step-by-step instructions in our interview invitation communications if you decide to go that route.

Rest assured all of our current student interviewers, alumni volunteer interviewers and admissions officers are fully trained and capable of conducting an interview that is professional, fair, impartial and helpful. Interviews typically last anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour. All interviews are blind, which means the interviewer does not have access to anything about you or your application, except for your resume. Even so, it’s always a good idea to bring a copy for the interviewer to reference during the conversation (this is required if you are interviewing with an alumni interviewer).

Most interviews follow the general framework of introductions, questions from the interviewer for you to answer, then some time is left at the end for you to ask your questions about the program and/or application process. Once the interview is completed, you are finished! There is nothing further you need to do and your application is considered complete. All that’s left is to wait patiently for our final decision in the weeks that follow.

TIPS & PITFALLS TO AVOID:

Choose Wisely: Decisions, decisions. Interview type selection is like deciding on your coffee order at Starbucks – copious options, but there’s something for everyone. Each type of interview affords individual benefits. If you’re located proximate to Austin, try to come to campus for an interview. If you have never been to campus or met us in person before, we highly recommend interviewing on campus to get a feel for the facility and community culture. You might even be able to book a class visit, information session, or tour and interview all in the same weekend. A special “Lunch & Learn” session will be offered on select interview dates. If you can’t make the trip due to work conflicts or you are internationally-based, you might consider taking advantage of our alumni interviewers in a city near you. We also offer HUB interviews in markets around the world, such as Korea, China, India and Mexico. Or maybe none of that works for you and Skype is the only way to get it done. No problem, that option is always available. We see your interview type selection as entirely logistical and do not hold it against you if you don’t interview with us on campus.

Don’t Be On Time – Be Early: Arriving early is “Interviewing 101,” yet it still manages to falter even the most prepared of candidates.  Arriving early is even more critical if you’ve never been to campus or navigated UT Austin parking before. As for Skype, your instructions ask that you are prepared to begin the Skype video call at the allotted interview start time, but it’s always a good idea to arrive 5-10 minutes prior to work out any inevitable technological hiccups that crop up.

“And that’s why I’m scared of heights and allergic to strawberries…Wait, what was the question again?”:  You’d be surprised how many times at the end of an applicant’s long-winded tangential answer we are asked to repeat the original question. Most often this happens to people who try to cram too much into the first answer for fear of not being given an opportunity later on to address that well-rehearsed example. Don’t worry, we’ll get to it! Plus, sometimes there is an opportunity at the end of an interview to mention anything we didn’t address in the formal line of questioning.

Loosen Up: Given our program’s famously friendly culture, our interviews are relatively informal. If you still find yourself nervous, practice your answers in front of a mirror, a friend or a willing stranger and ask them how you did. Did you answer the question? Did you rush through it? Take a moment to outline your answer in your mind first, and then address it calmly and confidently. Don’t get too comfortable, though. While we’re an easy-going bunch, maintaining an appropriate level of professionalism is always a good idea. This includes professional language and attire as if you were interviewing for a job (that means you too, Skypers! I’m sure your pajamas are lovely, but we’d much rather see a blazer.).

Know What We’re Looking For: We listen for confidence, clear and concise communication of career goals, concrete examples of teamwork and leadership, in-depth knowledge of our MBA program, and overall genuine enthusiasm. Also, the interview can be a place to showcase secondary skills that are difficult for us to determine solely based on your application: interview skills, self-awareness, communication style, and “hire-ability.” Keep these in mind so we can get a feel for the application intangibles.

Know Your Audience: Remember, the Admissions Committee doesn’t have a preference for which interview type you elect or who you interview with, just as long as you prepare for your audience. Are you interviewing with an admissions officer?  Read about them on our Admissions Committee page. Our alumni interviewer profiles can be found on our website.  If you’re interviewing via Skype or on-campus, be cognizant that not every student has the same background as you!  Steer clear of industry jargon.

Come with questions: A good list of questions for your interviewer can illustrate a few key things about you as a candidate: you’ve done your research, you care about our program, you have envisioned yourself as an MBA, and you can formulate coherent thoughts under pressure. We usually leave anywhere from 10-15 minutes for questions, so limit your list to 2-3 good ones and have a few backups.

While our interviewing style is admittedly less intense than corporate recruiters, don’t let our laid-back Austin attitude fool you. The Admissions Committee uses the interview as a way to add character, depth and spirit to your written application, so keep these tips in mind to ensure a positive outcome.

Good luck and Hook’ Em!

 

Essay Writing Tips from Texas Full-Time MBA Admissions

From Stacey Kammerdiener, Senior Full-Time MBA Admissions Officer

As you think about how to approach the essays in your Texas Full-Time MBA application, your best shot at successfully answering the essay prompts is to approach them thoughtfully. The purpose of these essay questions is to understand why you want to attend McCombs, to find out what drives you, and to learn more about who you are both professionally and personally. While it may be tempting, do us (and yourself) a favor and avoid the snooze-fest/shock-factor extremes. Instead, approach your essays genuinely and with reflection. Armed with a few insider tips from the Admissions Committee, you will be well on your way to submitting a strong application.

ESSAY 1

The University of Texas at Austin values unique perspectives and cultivates a collaborative environment of distinct individual contributions. It is the first day of orientation. You are meeting your study group, comprised of five of your classmates from various backgrounds. Please introduce yourself to your new team, highlighting what drives you in your personal and professional life.

Select only one communication method that you would like to use for your response. 

  • Write an essay (250 words)
  • Share a video introduction (one minute)

Admissions Officer Advice:

Imagine you are standing in front of your new Texas MBA Class of 2019 study group introducing yourself. Your study group is comprised of 5 or so of your classmates who will differ from you professionally, geographically, and culturally; these individuals will be your designated group work partners throughout the first semester. What would you say to your group if you only have 250 words or one-minute? What is your personal “elevator speech?” First impressions are important in-person and are equally important in an admissions application.

Key items to make sure you include are a greeting or introduction and some personal anecdotes. We want the full picture of who you are, but presented in “nutshell” form.

What makes you interesting and unique are both your personal and professional interests and attributes.  Therefore, an intro that only discusses work experience, or only discusses previous life experience, is incomplete.  Give us a rounded mix, so that we better understand who you are in a more complete sense, and not only in one facet of your life.  When someone asks you what motivates you, what is your response?  We are looking to learn more about what drives you – in other words, we want to find out not only what you are passionate about in your personal and professional life, but why.

Finally, the choice is yours: written essay or video.  We have seen significant success in each platform and do not prefer one over the other.  Therefore, play to your strengths!  If your skill is in writing, focus on the essay.  If you want to create a video and rely on your voice and video editing skills, then we are excited to see it.  (Keep in mind that submitting a photo slideshow with background music does not grant the admissions committee the chance to actually see or hear you, which is what makes video submissions so great!)

In any submission, have fun with it and do not take this essay for granted—it can go a long way in introducing yourself and setting the stage for your application.

ESSAY 2

Based on your post-MBA goals and what drives you in your personal and professional life, why is the Texas MBA the ideal program for you and how do you plan to engage in our community? (500 words)

Admissions Officer Advice:

This prompt allows you to leverage your short term career goal (remember the one you included on the admissions application?) and your response to essay one!  It’s also an opportunity for you to show McCombs some real love.  By the time we read your essays, we have already seen your resume, scores and basic elements of your application. In this answer, we need you to expand upon the bare facts and convey to us why you are the perfect student for McCombs and how you will become an active contributor in our community. Texas MBA students are dynamic and engaged, and we are looking for applicants who are equally as driven.

This is a dense question with lots of content. The key will be to make sure you address both segments of the question individually and within the tight limit of 500 words. Below is a dissection of each part of the question to help you craft a complete answer:

“… why the Texas MBA is the ideal program for you…”

  • Focus here on the words Texas MBA and you.  A vague essay is a poor essay, so give us specifics. If you’ve read our website or spoken to an admissions team member, frankly there is a LOT to love: classes, concentrations, organizations, students/alumni, professors, unique academic and career-oriented opportunities, and the list goes on. Before you write your essay, I recommend you write a list of your top reasons why you think McCombs is total MBA perfection. Then, make sure these specifics are mentioned to illustrate your dedication to our program. What’s the consequence of saying vague things like McCombs is “amazing” and “a great program?” First, we may question your familiarity with our school, or worse, we may assume you just reused the same generic essay you used for another MBA program – yikes.
  • Don’t forget that the admissions committee is also looking for you to clearly connect how McCombs will help you achieve your career objectives and personal goals you’ve listed on your application.  We will have already reviewed your short and long term goals, and now we want to know how you think McCombs will help get you there! What classes, organizations, and experiential opportunities that we offer specifically relate to your career plan?  Connect the dots for us.

“… how do you plan to engage in our community…”

  • Lastly, as you are mapping out your reasons for attending our program, also remember that we pride ourselves first and foremost on our collaborative, diverse and extremely tight-knit community. We work very hard to find individuals excited about being a part of this community in particular, so in what ways will you contribute? How will you give back while you are here? What will be your lasting legacy at McCombs? How can you leverage our program offerings and combine it with your skill set to propel the entire program forward? Convince us that you are indispensable to our community, and that we simply cannot live without you.

Last bit of advice. Return to classic writing techniques, a strong essay structure, grammar, punctuation, spelling and cadence.  A few common essay writing pitfalls to avoid include convoluted sentences, going off-topic, name-dropping, vague or confusing goals, citing inaccurate classes, professors, or student organizations, or calling us by any other name besides McCombs or the Texas MBA (a common mistake for people who reuse essays).  Also, DON’T REUSE ESSAYS FROM OTHER SCHOOLS!  We can totally tell.

As always, please email us at TexasMBA@mccombs.utexas.edu if you have any other questions.  Get started early and edit, edit, edit!  Your essays can really send a strong application into orbit, so good luck, and happy applying!

Register Now to Meet the Texas MBA & Learn More This Summer

The Texas Evening MBA Program is an MBA degree tailored to fit your schedule and your needs, allowing you to work full-time while earning your MBA from a globally-recognized university within a network of award-winning faculty and accomplished students. We encourage you to learn more about our program firsthand at one of our upcoming events this summer!

Events are the best way to interact directly with the Texas MBA and get to know current students and admissions staff. Register now!

Beat the Summer Heat at our Ice Cream Connects!

Texas MBA students and staff will be hosting Ice Cream Connects to give you the opportunity to experience the Texas MBA Program. This is your chance to network with current students, ask questions about our application process, attend an optional MBA class, and enjoy a sweet treat from Austin’s favorite, Amy’s Ice Cream, founded by Amy Simmons, Texas MBA Alumna ’93.

REGISTER: Tuesday, June 21, 2016

REGISTER: Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Discover Which Program is Right for You!

Join us for a Texas MBA Info Session in Austin on June 29, 2016 to take an in-depth look into what sets the Texas Evening MBA and Texas Executive MBA programs apart from the competition. This is your opportunity to compare programs, meet admissions staff, current students and alumni, and to ask any questions you may have about applying.

REGISTER: Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Have questions? Please send us an email. We encourage you to stay in touch by signing up to receive news from the Texas Evening MBA. See you soon!

Photo Credit: 365thingsaustin.com

Texas MBA Admissions Update: Spring 2016

Hello from the Texas MBA Admissions Committee! Now that we’re approaching the end of our 2015-2016 admissions cycle, here’s a quick update on the Texas MBA Class of 2018. 

The Texas Full-Time MBA Program received more than 2,500 applications – A double digit increase from 2015.

We have completed review of all 3 rounds of applications and extended offers to candidates for the program. Early results point to an amazing class! Congratulations Class of 2018! We look forward to seeing you in Austin in the fall!

In February and April, the Texas MBA Program hosted a total of 164 admitted students at our two Preview Weekend events! Each year, students admitted to the Texas Full-Time MBA Program are invited to spend two days in the beautiful city of Austin, TX to learn about all of the different resources available to them at McCombs as well as meet their future classmate. Thank you to everyone who attended this year!

Texas MBA Preview Weekend Co-Chairs

Texas MBA Preview Weekend Co-Chairs


The final application deadline for the Texas Executive MBA, Texas MBA at Houston and Texas MBA at Dallas/Fort Worth programs was March 17th, but it’s not too late to submit your application for a fall 2016 start!

The application for all three programs will remain open until the end of June on a space-available basis. To date, applications across our Working Professional and Executive programs are up considerably year-over-year. This is your opportunity to enhance your skill-set and discover new avenues to advance your career within a vast network making an impact across the globe. Why wait? Complete your application today!

The Round 2 application deadline for the Texas Evening MBA Program was also March 17th. If you weren’t able to submit your application in time, we encourage you to review our admissions process to find detailed information about submitting before the Round 3 deadline on August 16th!

Looking to apply to the Working Professional or Executive MBA programs, or wanting to get an early start on preparing for the 2017 Texas Full-Time MBA application? Here are some fantastic blog entries that may help:

Recommendations & ReferencesRecommendations & References The WaitlistThe Waitlist photo300-1eh49f5You Are NOT Your GPA
Working Professional & Executive Application TipsApplication Tips BQ_l_4fCAAAnmel-1jl5xflWhen To Hit Submit The Waitlist_(2)Work Experience:
Quality vs. Quantity

If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to us via email at TexasMBA@mccombs.utexas.edu. We also encourage you to check out our many upcoming events!

We look forward to seeing you soon! Hook ’em!

*Data represented is from 2015-2016. All stats are approximate and subject to change as we close out the admission season.

How to Ace Your Recommendation Letters

The recommendation letter requirement is one of the more daunting parts of the application process, as it is one of the few components over which students do not have direct control. For the Type A, right-brained, checklist-making applicants among us (you know who you are), this might lead to some cold sweats.

Case in point: At an admissions event I spoke at recently, a highly-qualified woman raised her hand and asked how to request recommendation letters when you own your own business. While I don’t own my own business, when I initially applied to McCombs I worked for a start-up, and I was concerned my professional network was too close-knit to leverage. However, when I really put my mind to it, I had an abundance of people I could lean on. Here’s how I looked at my network when asking for a recommendation letter:

1) The boss.

This is arguably the person in your network that knows your strengths and weaknesses better than anyone else. Regardless of your supervisor or boss’s title, if you know you deliver great results to your superior, they are a natural fit. However, there is a caveat. Your recommendation letter request should not be the first time your boss is hearing about your MBA aspirations. If possible, start by letting your boss know you are considering applying, explain the time commitment an MBA would require, and then help him or her understand your motivations. When you later ask for a recommendation, there’s no backstory necessary.

2) The colleague.

The Texas MBA Program is a team sport, and I’ve heard it said from the Full-Time MBAs to the Executives that McCombs is known for its collaborative environment. Coworkers can vouch for your ability to work as a team, celebrate team successes, and meet deadlines. However, choose your coworker wisely — don’t simply default to your BFF from work. Your colleague should be able to speak to your professional strengths, not simply your extracurricular ones.

3) The mentor.

Mentors outside of your workplace are great to have in your corner when it comes time for a recommendation. However, be sure that your mentor has an understanding of your actual value, not just your potential. Select a mentor with whom you have worked on high-stakes tasks to ensure they will provide a recommendation with depth. If your mentor has only served in a capacity of an advisor with whom you meet regularly, consider scheduling some time to discuss your contributions and strengths so they will have some context prior to writing a recommendation.

4) The professor.

Depending on how long ago you attended undergrad, professors can provide esteem and proof of concept in their recommendations. However, they are probably one of the most constantly tapped individuals for letters of recommendations (think of all the former students, and all the graduate school possibilities, and all the job applications). If you’re going the professor route, be sure he or she is someone who sets you apart from the other students. You don’t want to be that someone in his or her inbox whose name sounds vaguely familiar but they don’t quite remember. Finally, good grades don’t always equal good recommendations. It’s the quality of your interactions, the sum of your class contributions, and the significance of your impression on that particular professor long after your final grade was submitted.

5) The outsider.

This person is an X-factor but someone who should not be overlooked. We all have them: suppliers, consultants, customers, coaches, and others. If you’ve worked closely with someone on a successful project, they are a great person to request information from.

Have another source you’ve tapped for a recommendation letter? Leave your suggestions in the comments below!

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