Tag Archives: AIGAC

The Many Benefits of ‘Intention’ in MBA Admissions Interviews

It’s MBA admissions interview season, and I’m reminded by a story here featuring fellow AICAC-member Bara Sapir, to talk about “intention” in interviewing.

More about that in a minute. Let me back up a step: there are many, many things to get right in an MBA admissions interview — or an interview for any position — and there is no silver bullet technique that guarantees success.

You will read about the STAR method (situation; target; action; result) among various others. There is nothing wrong with these kinds of scaffolding at all, particularly in that they will help you fully address the various dimensions of your story while your mind is whirling under pressure.

I have devoted a whole chapter (Chapter 14) of my book to lessons, observations, and techniques in MBA admissions interviewing.

At the end of the day, success comes down to managing two difficult things simultaneously. First saying important, believable, admissions-valuable things about yourself (and not drifting from your primary message); and second saying them in an engaging and fluent and organized way despite not being in control of the agenda.

Achieving the first requires careful planning — being really clear on the key things you want to communicate about yourself, and the proof-stories you will use corroborate your claims. Achieving the second is practice, practice, practice.

The good news — believe it or not there is good news — is interviews are more forgiving that written text. Text is expected to be perfect. It is written and read asynchronously, under different conditions. There is no way to add in an example or clarify a point when the reader’s brow furrows.

The interview gives you the opportunity for ‘warm-sync’ and mid-course correcting as necessary.

Note this does not imply that you should compromise your individuality or that it’s okay to lose communications focus. Adcoms want strong, purposeful individuals.

So how do you create a professional warm-sync environment while maintaining your individuality and message focus?

Here’s something specific to think about: go out of your way to create “life-intention” in your interview. By that I mean, make a conscious effort to state your life-career-path intention strongly. If you have a compelling passion for and focus on a future goal, not only will it make you stand out but it will be a point of gravity, a thread, that connects all parts of your story — parts which often get lost in the warm-style chat that interview-bonding demands.


Take the MBA Search Survey

Applicants turn to the MBA Admission Studio as a source of reliable information and valuable advice on the MBA admissions process.  As a member of the Association of International Graduate Admissions Consultants (AIGAC), which is conducting a survey to help us better understand MBA applicants’ goals and needs, I’d like to invite all readers of the MBA Studio site to share their school selection priorities and views on the MBA application process.

The online survey should take just 10 minutes to complete.  We at AIGAC would love to receive as many responses as possible before the closing date of Wednesday, March 30th — and will be giving away an iPod Touch and two iPod Shuffles as a token of our gratitude.  We’ll also be sharing the results of the survey this spring to help candidates better understand the nature of today’s applicant pool.

Thanks in advance for your participation.

Simply click here to begin: http://surveys.marketpointsinc.com/mba11.asp


Making messages stick: an MBA Studio ‘bible’ gets some airtime

As a follower of many blogs in the MBA admissions ‘space’ I know, as you probably know, that they are of mixed quality. But the musings of AIGAC-accredited MBA admissions consultants is generally good, and I find we are of one mind on most important matters. So no surprise that today’s post is a hearty agreement with Linda who recently recommended the book Made to Stick (Random House, New York, 2007) by Chip and Dan Heath, on her Accepted blog.

made-to-stickI read the Made to Stick hot-off-the-press two years ago, and have integrated every aspect of it into MBA Studio’s client offerings ever since. It’s not the only resource I use of course (and my own MBA Admissions Strategy, which predates it, has many of the same principles.) But Made to Stick is unsurpassed in focusing on one single thing: getting a message across. Formulating it so that the reader reads it, understands it, remembers it.

So, as I have said consistently to MBA Studio clients and whomever else would listen: this is the single best “non-MBA” guidebook for MBA applicants. Be aware that it won’t help with the key aspects of determining who you are and what your key value points and application platform are — what you want to communicate in the first place (as revealed and coached through MBA Studio’s signature “Profiling” process.) Nor will it help with the specifics of how to manage and beat business-school-specific expectations in essays and interviews and reco’s. But as a book about how to communicate a message, it can’t be beaten, and is justifiably a worldwide bestseller.

The Heath brothers have distilled what makes a message “stick” into six principles, which they communicate in a (sticky) acronym, SUCCESs (sic). That is Simple, Unexpected, Concrete, Credible, Emotional, Stories. Chapter by chapter they show how to simplify a message to its essence; grab attention via its unexpected elements, use concrete rather than abstract intelligence; enhance credibility via various proof channels; and achieve emotional connections with the reader. Telling stories that matter, and telling them well, is the key to much of this.

Made to Stick has a blog by the way. Unfortunately two years and counting after the book was published, it’s only occasionally active.