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My (Last?) Interview

I got the chance to interview w/ Duke Fuqua two weekends ago.  Because of my schedule, Friday the 18th was the only day I was free to interview out of the four possible dates.  Unfortunately I couldn’t stay for Fuqua Friday and MBA Games was having an event as well as I had to catch a flight back to Austin for the TEDx event the next day.  This might be my last interview since I haven’t heard from UCLA Anderson by now.

Durham is becoming pretty familiar to me now.  Especially w/ my car rental membership I practically just get off the plane, get in the car and zip off.

Fuqua’s interview is pretty standard, so I won’t bother with a detailed break down of all the interview questions.  If you really REALLY want to know you can Google it.  There are plenty of other resources like Clear Admit, Accepted, and SBC that contain information.  It does have more behavioral questions than other schools I’ve interviewed with, which makes sense b/c the Team Fuqua concept is so important, they want to see how you would fit in and how you would handle different situations, often conflict oriented.

I got to sit in on the CEI info session which was really beneficial for me.  Sat in on a different class, which the professor used the term “epic fail” (properly I might add) in class that scored major brownie points with me.  The CMC presentation wasn’t that useful… just as a former business major and someone who actually got paid checks from the career services office before as well.  I had visited the campus before as well so the build tour was still neat, although probably could’ve utilized my time for something else.  They had tons of 1st Years coming in and out of the Admissions Lounge all day.  Probably after lunch I was completely out of questions.  It was neat to meet all the people who I could potentially see again though, whether it’s the 1st Year’s who will be 2nd Year or prospective students interviewing who will be in my graduating class.

My original impression was that I’d be interviewing w/ a 2nd Year.  The info contained in the interview invitation indicated somewhat differently but my interviewer turned out to be a 2nd Year.  I actually recognized her at the end from one of the Fuqua Vision videos.

I didn’t FEEL nervous but I could tell my voice tightening or throat feels dry a bit from time to time.  I didn’t get to expand more on my entrepreneurial endeavors as much as I’d like and I can’t believe I forgot to mention my involvement w/ Dale Carnegie Training in the heat of the moment.  I had originally mentioned about EVCC in an earlier question on “Why Fuqua?” and later there was another question on what organizations I’d like to get involved in but the interviewer qualified it to exclude professional clubs so although I had planned to talk more about entrepreneurial stuff and EVCC here I felt like I had to follow instructions.  Looking back, it probably would’ve been ok if I did talk a little more about the professional clubs but just keep it real short and acknowledge that I was listening.

My favorite few questions were: “Describe a time when received constructive criticism.”  This is so much better than the typical “tell me about a weakness” questions.  You do have to address a weakness, but it also shows how you respond in a human interaction.  Also, if you use the Situation-Task-Action-Result method so many people teaches it’s easy to remember you’re suppose to come full circle back and show what you’ve done to improve or overcome that weakness.

There was one about failure to manage a team and leadership outside of work.  The first I used a QC problem at work and the latter I used volleyball leagues but I did ramble just a little…  There’s also one about what would you do if you have a team member not contributing.  All my answers and what I would do are all things I learned from the Dale Carnegie  Training.  DC himself would be proud.

I know I said I wouldn’t give you a detailed breakdown of the interview questions but I did share some… which I think is what you’re here for anywhere 😛

mloylo

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My (Not So Perfect) Interview

I interviewed w/ Kellogg MBA yesterday.  It didn’t go 100% like how I planned, but I’m fairly confident I still did a decent job and after writing this post I’m going to stop reading into everything that happened.

First of all, it’s w/ an alum in town.  It’s always a bit of a wild card… I expected he probably had a given set of questions to ask and that was the case.  We scheduled it for Friday at 4pm at a Starbucks near his work place, which is not exactly idea condition but we had been playing phone/email tag a little I didn’t want to delay it any further.

The reason I say it’s not ideal is b/c what is on most people’s mind on Friday afternoon?  They want to get home, go to happy hour!  I can read that if my responses start to get a little long winded he would start to frown a little (Not that I’m some expert on microexpression like Paul Ekman/Cal Lightman).  Because of this I would wrap some responses up or truncate some without possibly fully answering the question.

I had originally wanted to flip the table on the interviewer first by asking his career path and how Kellogg played a part in it.  I wanted to do this so when the proper opportunity arises I can relate back to his response 1) to build rapport and 2) show that I was listening.  But he just jumped right into the questions.  I should’ve insisted on my plan b/c I really didn’t feel like I fully build the rapport and connection first and it was harder for me to read the interviewer.  I swear the only time he cracked a smile was when we talked about Maine, where he grew up at the end.

Subsequently, I can tell I had more filler words, more nervous, and voice box tightening… I struggle a little bit right out of the gate on a standard question and desperately tried to recover.  While I wouldn’t say it was a total disaster, I didn’t leave full of confidence like before either.

The interviewer himself did say that he think the MMM program is a good fit for me, but he also asked me how many schools I applied to and said that there’s always the element of chance when it comes to admissions.  Was he asking and saying this b/c he was planning to write a favorable report back to AdComm? Or unfavorable to see that I didn’t put all my eggs in one basket.  Hard to say… and now, I’m done torturing myself trying to read into things that isn’t there.  I done the best I could and I’m going to adjust my game plan a little to fully prepare for Fuqua next week and that’s all I could ask of myself.

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My (Perfect?) Interview

Interviewing w/ UNC Kenan-Flagler? Here’s a first hand experience and some tips to help you prepare.

I’ve done many many interviews before, for internships, jobs, scholarships, etc etc.  I have to say this is one of the better ones I’ve done.   Although I always feel I could’ve answered some questions better or differently after playing the interview back in my mind later, I was quite happy with how it went.   I think I did a little shadow boxing on my way out of the building to the parking lot a la Steelers coach Mike Tomlin (Brad Pitt also does this in couple of his movies although I can’t remember which ones I’m thinking off at the moment.  Mr. & Mrs. Smith?).

Anyway, pretty standard interview.  Nothing to trip you up.  The interviewer does not view your application until AFTER the interview, so all they have to base off of is your resume#.  I thought that was pretty cool.  I thought the interview might ask for quite a bit of leadership experience since that’s what UNC focuses on but that wasn’t the case.  I did prepare mentally some examples but they never came into play.  I interviewed w/ John Hughes (no, not THAT John Hughes), Assistant Director of MBA Admissions.  It felt like a true conversation, like just two dudes talking.  It’s suppose to be 30 minutes but we talked for almost an hour*.

# – Because of this, make sure you know what aspect of your resume you want to highlight

** – There were couple of reasons I scheduled my interview late.  1) Primacy and recency theory, that you tend to remember the first one and last one, in this case interviewees, better.  All the ones in the middle are kind of a blur.  Of course, you want to be remembered for the right reasons.  2) The interviewer doesn’t have to worry about the next guy coming in after you, we can go over a little if we like.  3) It gives you plenty of time to get to the interview site, in case flights get delayed or canceled.  4) You get the chance to sit in a class and tour the school so you can better tailor your responses and jot down questions you have to ask the interviewer later.  BTW, you do run the risk of interviewer’s mind wandering off, getting ready to go home and finish the day or he’s tired if you’re boring.  By the same token, I would almost never schedule an interview right before lunch if I can help it.

Intro:

John came to get me in the waiting area, a little before our schedule 3:30pm.  We started talking about UNC and UT (Texas, not Tennessee) and our connection with Mack Brown, the former coach of UNC.  I thought he was gonna talk about the basketball game earlier in the season where UT beat UNC but I didn’t want to go down that direction…

John shared w/ me some of his background**, what he’s done professionally, where he went to school.  Since both his undergrad and MBA were in California I asked if he grew up there which he responded “yes, Santa Monica.”  I’m not stranger to Santa Monica, 3rd & Promenade, Ocean Ave, etc so build a little more rapport there.

** – They gave me John’s card when I first got there but I didn’t have the time due to class visit and building tour, but I would’ve tried to look up some info about John if I could.  KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE.  I don’t think it mattered that much in this interview, plus there’s like a gazillion John Hughes out there.  The KFBS website did have a short bio for all the members of AdComm though.

We talked quite a bit about my family business, where I grew up, how we operate and what my roles were.

Did you enjoy your experience at UT, would you do it again? – Surprisingly, this one threw me off, and yes, b/c it was SO EASY.  Of course I did.  I took a second to see if there was a trap in there somewhere.

How did you decide on going to UT? –  Just want to get inside of your decision making ability and process.  This one came up in my mock interviews before.  Always steer this towards academic or professional reasons.

Tell me about [blank] position w/ [blank] company. – Same intent as the one before.  I forgot to wrap this one up with what I learned from that position.

How would your manager describe you in two words? – It does test your listening skills a bit, if you used 3 words that’s a big no no b/c clearly you weren’t paying attention/listening.  It makes the interviewer wonder your ability to follow directions.  I said “coachable” and “self-reliant” after clarify with John that I can use a hyphenated word as one word (technically it is anyway when you use word count feature in Word), but I wanted him to know that I was listening.

What do you enjoy most about your job? – Just getting at your personality more, what you like and intent and if matches up with why you wanted to get an MBA.

What function of the job do you like best? – Same as the previous question.  Since I wanted to pursue marketing I said the sales and marketing side and got into about my approach and why I like sales and marketing.  I then found out John was an executive at Avon and has done work w/ Southwestern Company.  Can we say brownie points??  If I had known this before hand I would’ve adjusted some of my responses.

How often do you travel overseas for work? – Getting at your responsibility levels and time commitment.  I actually don’t go overseas that much b/c most everything is on auto-pilot by this pt since we’ve been in business for so long, but I did bring in international projects I’m working on.

How many people are on your payroll? plus a couple of other questions to determine my capacity with the family business, like if I had other siblings and if they were involved w/ the business, if the business was just founded by my parents or were there other relatives that are part of the bigger family enterprise. – This line of questioning had John coming to the clear conclusion that I’m in charge of everything and asked if verify that.  Softball question, of course it’s a lot of responsibility and leadership rest on my part.

When you graduate, do you want to go back to the family business? – basically ST and LT career goals.  I haven’t gotten the chance to talk about my short term goals at the point so I clarify on my intended career path.

Why UNC? – This wasn’t until pretty late into the interview.  Again, focus and lead out w/ academic and professional reasons.  I think when I was in high school I interviewed w/ a Duke alum and I said something about basketball… so stupid.  Leave athletics out of it.

If you were working for me and I tell you that you’ve done a great job and to take today off, but you have to promise me not to think about work.  What would you do? – Trying to see if you actually have a personality would be my guess why this question was asked.  I said I’d go out and ride my bike and enjoy some reading.

Conclusion:

Don’t tell me your GMAT score, but I want to ask you a question, are you happy with it? – oh man, this question was so money.  I was really excited he asked his but you still have to be a little careful.  At first I thought John was gonna ask me a GMAT question like what’s the probability of getting heads at least 3 times after flipping a coin 4 times.  I did work really hard on getting the GMAT score I have, but I wouldn’t it mind being higher.  The question can be hard b/c it’s so easy to just blurt out your score, which you have already been instructed not to…  I appreciate the AdComm for this questions b/c I got to show that I did my due diligence and I still have a positive mental attitude despite not getting the score I wanted.

Anything else you’d like me to know? – This is pretty common, too.  If there’s something you’d like to mention, a strength, special circumstances etc now is your chance.  If you didn’t, don’t waste this opportunity to reiterate your fit with the school!

Any questions for me? –  Always, ALWAYS have a couple of questions prepared for the interviewer.  I asked John about the direction and vision for KFBS and I also asked what his personal definition of leadership was.

I actually redirected that question back to John as well, to see if he has a clear picture of my background, my goals and how KFBS fits in.  If he doesn’t I want to make sure he understands why he should admit me.  It also shows confidence.  I already aced all your questions, you got anything else for me?

Boy, that was a long post… sorry about that.  If you stuck w/ me all the way to the end whether you’re interviewing w/ UNC or not, GOOD LUCK!!

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My 20.5 hours

Boy, yesterday was a pretty crazy day.  I left the house at 4:30am for a 6:00am flight to Raleigh for my interview w/ UNC Kenan-Flagler and flew right back, getting home at 1am.  Luckily North Carolina wasn’t hit w/ the snow storm.  I was slightly concerned about my flight change in Memphis since I have no idea what’s going on there.  All I knew was it was 28 degrees, but my flight is early enough and I should have less risk, even if I do I have plenty of time to make backup plans to get to Chapel Hill for my 3:30pm interview.

Everything turned out to be ok.  Flight crew didn’t make it to my flight in Memphis on time but I only got delayed about 30 minutes.  If I didn’t get delayed I might’ve been able to make it to the student lunch.  There is a reason I didn’t sign up for it just in case something does go wrong w/ my flights.  This is the only school I applied that I didn’t get a chance to visit yet so I was really excited to have the opportunity to interview on campus and sit in a class.

First impression: I was pretty amped up from not sleeping the night before and thinking about my flight schedule, but I did notice the flags of different nations hanging high above the main entrance.  Kind of like their neighbor down the street, but since they’re higher it’s a little less overwhelming.

Environment: B
I do appreciate the warmth.  It was about in the 60’s when the rest of the country is hit by below freezing weather.  Didn’t get to take in Chapel Hill that much, but I can’t imagine it too different from Durahm.

Job prospect: B
Lots of consulting as usual, if you’re finance Bank of America is probably somewhere on your recruiting list.  If you’re goal is Wall Street it’s gonna be a little tougher.  If you’re marketing JNJ is gonna blitzkrieg you sounded like.  UNC just hired a new director, Amy Wittmayer, for Career Services and it sounded like everybody was pretty excited about her.  Coincidentally, Amy was in that same role w/ McCombs MBA.  I was a Peer Career Mentor for the BBA at McCombs so I didn’t get the chance to interact directly w/ Amy but I’ve heard of the name.

School: B
The building is ok.  There is a separate auditorium right adjacent to the main building.  There are some signs of wear in certain areas of the building, plus I’m not too thrilled about having to share the building w/ undergrads.  I can’t quite put my finger on it.  I think I just preferred to focus more on my studies instead of seeing bunch of these kids in hoodies and gym shorts running around fighting a laptop charger outlet w/ me.  Man, I sound really old just now.

Curriculum: B-
I sat in on Marketing Analytics.  It’s not the most fun class, but I liked it (perverted, I know).  Regression and all that stats stuff has never bothered me at all.  Plus it’s nice to see the analytical side of marketing in action.

A friend of mine had mentioned about not picking Kenan-Flagler b/c he wasn’t too impressed w/ the students he met.  Since this is a stats class plus running a computer program in conjunction, I’ll give it benefit of the doubt.  To be fair, that person was also brought up in a super nice upper class family w/ ski vacation condo in Beaver Creek and I would say he could be a little overly critical.  Although, it was a little concerning how I ended up having to explain to someone in the class what the professor meant, when I have only been sitting in the class for 45 minutes.

KFBS does focus more on leadership and incorporates that approach into its curriculum.  It’s not as flexible as I’d like.  On top of that I just don’t believe classroom is the most effective setting to teach leadership, ethics, and presentation skills.  It feels very… undergrad to me.  I would think as an MBA candidate you should have all this coming in already or the AdComm should pick students w/ those tools under their belts.  Offering leadership courses as an elective is cool, requiring so many and taking up precious elective slots, eh…

Students: B
Nothing stands out too much to me.  Apparently almost half of the class (~300 students per graduating class) are MBA Ambassadors, so that’s pretty cool.  Unfortunately some of the student organizations do not have as big of a web presence so prospective students don’t get to see as much.  I know from experience when I was writing my essays I had to really dig for some of the clubs’ website.  I do have to say that the faculty and staff have been awesome.  The famous Dr. B stopped by Admissions Office to say hi to us and I was quite impressed by the person I interviewed w/ (more on that later)

I wish I could paint a better picture for all those interested in KFBS.  Truth is I was too focused on my interview while I was there and my mind is just clearly on other matters like flights, etc.  I do believe KFBS is a good school if it’s a good fit for your long and short term goals.

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My Accepted

Well, I got into Foster!  At least we know that in the fall I have at least A school to attend.  I was out with a friend when the Admissions Director called me otherwise I would’ve answered.  Funny enough we were talking about formulating a plan for him to go back to school and switch jobs.

It’s a huge weight off my shoulders now that I have been accepted at least somewhere and the applications for other schools have been turned in.  I also got invited to interview w/ UNC Kenan-Flagler, so at least everything is going smoothly so far.  Hopefully I get invited to interview at Fuqua, Anderson and Kellogg as well.  Now I can focus more on the family business and maybe take some time off before summer.

Our Q1 is pretty booked right now.  Our family business can be an indicator for general economy sometimes.  I think most people are upbeat about 2011 and our orders reflect that.  I have a lot I want to get done before I return to school.  We have couple of accounts we’re working on and I’m optimistic we can make some good progress.

Look for a some change in direction and focus for the blog.  I’d like refine what I write about and provide resources for like-minded others.

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My Entrepreneur

For some reason I have always had a problem w/ the word “entrepreneur.” It became one of these cool catchy words flowing freely from people’s mouths during undergrad, just like consulting and investment banking. The same people who have no idea what the word means to them personally or what it is like to be an entrepreneur, consultant, or i-banker. All they see is the money and glamor. Yes, they have heard about the 100+ hour work weeks, etc but really, how bad can it be right? That is until you’re actually there and burn out in 2 years.

Listen to the beginning of this podcast from HBR for a definition of entrepreneurship that I agree with a lot more. I had previous settle on a loose definition for myself that entrepreneurs are people who engage in enterprising activities. So why do I still feel that me, running a family business, not really an entrepreneur. I’m paraphrasing here, but entrepreneurs should be someone that’s moving the world forward, creating jobs, real value creation. Yes, a landscape business owner provides value, but is he really benefiting the world in a significant way?

I was also happy to hear the discussion on the entrepreneur DNA around the 12:00 mark.  People talk about entrepreneurship DNA as if there’s something genetic or inherently different about these amazing people like Steve Jobs or Bill Gates.  It bugs me to no end when someone makes the claim “a natural born” entrepreneur, or leader, or anything else really.  I like how they talk about it as a more general background, a more social environment if you will.  Which means that someone can learn to be an entrepreneur, a leader, and anything else you want to be.  There are different staging and preparations that go into building an entrepreneur, which is really cool b/c it happens to echo what I write in my MBA essays.

Does that mean genetics don’t matter? Of course not.  For me it just play a smaller factor.  I do believe each person have certain genetic disposition for a certain position, but the work you put in after birth matters more.  Imagine how many people had the genetic markups to be the next Michael Jordan, but they didn’t have the drive to succeed like MJ and only ended up riding the bench.

A friend of mine and me were talking about what Tim Ferriss had to say about getting an MBA.  TF had said to invest all the money you’re gonna end up spending on an MBA, the tuition, traveling, GMAT prep course and test registration fees, and use that to start a business and you’ll learn more than you would in an MBA program.  It’s debatable.  I do believe the experience in a multinational company and the MBA education would pay as the “staging” the podcast mentions.  While it’s fun to do it on your own and figure it out, meanwhile the big boys have been at it for much longer than you have and perfected the industry’s best practices, what better way to learn than to actually join them?

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What do you think of the video below?  Does it make you want to go to McCombs MBA more?  Some students from McCombs put it out.  I actually know someone in the video.  I’m pretty sure this is not an officially endorsed video by the school as a ploy to recruit students.  Key words: pretty sure, I could be wrong.  This somehow made it to the Texas Exes blog.

I did my undergrad at McCombs and I can’t help but shake my head the entire 4:59 of the video.  Here are some of my burning questions:

How come you have the time to put together a video? – As an MBA student, shouldn’t you be so busy you barely have time to sleep.  Between classes, group projects, organization meetings and recruiting you have time to film and edit a short movie?  Maybe you are super man and do everything in half of the time it takes everybody but chances are people are thinking maybe McCombs doesn’t take academics that seriously.

This is for MBA? – This might be cooler if it was bunch of undergrad students, but it is quite tacky to try to appeal to the more mature prospective MBA students.

Stereotype much? – Some female students already feel like MBA program is like a meat market and you’re gonna portray them as such even more?  Also to think that all women are just there to find a rich husband (that’s what a MRS degree is btw)? Of course, it’s a rap video, so you have to put a black guy in right? b/c only black guys can rap.  we might not know if that’s true or not, the white guy in the video certainly can’t.

Where’s your sense of professionalism? – using a song that has the word that means the male ejaculatory fluid in it? MBA is a professional business program, not film school.  Why not throw in more pop culture or internet meme references than just the Old Spice one, like double rainbow or Dos Equis’ most interesting man in the world (well, I should stop giving them ideas).

Point is: you would not see this video from the top schools.  I’m not going back for my MBA so I can extend my college drinking days two more years.  The project might have just been an attempt to humor and lighten the mood during finals, but if it was meant to recruit prospective students? to use another pop culture reference: EPIC FAIL WHALE

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