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Jul 08, 2020

Tuck Admissions Insights: Your Admissions Interview

Valerie Wiens

By Valeria Wiens
Associate Director of Evaluation, Admissions

The Tuck Admissions team is known for transparency when it comes to admissions criteria and how we evaluate applications.  I’m excited to discuss a component of your application that allows you to provide a more complete picture of who you are—your admissions interview.

Admissions interviews play an important role in the evaluation process. They are a way for you to demonstrate how you’ll contribute to our community, and how Tuck can help you thrive. They also give you a chance to learn more about Tuck.

While Tuck’s interviews are meant to be a comfortable conversation, we understand that the process of interviewing at a business school can be a stressful one. We know that you are excited about the prospect of attending Tuck, and we’re excited to meet you! I hope the advice below helps alleviate interview-day anxiety.

Preparing for Your Interview—You’ve Got This!

Know our four admissions criteria well. The admissions interview is an opportunity for you to demonstrate that you are smart, accomplished, aware, and encouraging. Most of our interviews are conducted by Tuck Admissions Associates (TAAs). These are trained second-year students who are excited to learn your story. Using only your resume, your interviewer will ask you questions that draw out evidence of each of these criteria. Your interviewer listens to your answers, summarizes and records notes in a form, and makes a recommendation on your candidacy to the admissions committee. The best interviews are conversations that flow naturally, and TAAs have discretion regarding which questions they ask—they have no pre-set list from us—and how they allocate questions across the 30-45 minutes of your interview.

Some of the questions we might ask are common to an MBA interview. Prepare and know your answers. Although this may vary by candidate and interviewer, you will likely be asked some standard questions, such as “Walk me through your resume” “Why are you pursuing an MBA?” and “What are your goals?” Prepare to discuss these by reviewing your resume beforehand, thinking about any applicable transitions, and reflecting on what aspects are most important to you and how you can best highlight them to your interviewer. Consider asking yourself: what led you to this point in your professional life, and what goals are you hoping to achieve post-MBA? Answers to these questions are only a small part of your interview. It’s best to respond to them in 2-3 minutes to give your interviewer enough time to ask behavioral questions that explore your alignment with our four criteria.

We ask behavioral questions. Prepare examples that address each of our four criteria. We believe that behaviors demonstrate transferable skills that predict your impact at Tuck and beyond. By relating stories from your past, you show us that your performance can be replicated here at Tuck and throughout your professional life. You may find the STAR format helpful in structuring your answers. Start with the Situation, then describe the Task or problem that you faced. Next, tell your interviewer about the Actions you took, and finish the story with a brief summary of the Result. The best stories are those that focus mostly on your actions.

Prepare examples but listen well to the questions asked. Be ready to improvise and think on your feet. Your interviewer will likely ask you at least one question for which you have no prepared answer. Remember to listen carefully and answer the question being asked. It is okay (even encouraged!) to take a few seconds to collect your thoughts before answering the question as best as you can. Our interviewer may ask follow up questions. This is a good thing! Consider this as an opportunity to provide additional evidence of one or more of the criteria in your answer. Resist the temptation to use pre-written notes or answers; they stilt your responses and limit your opportunity to demonstrate that you are conversational and think quickly in the moment.

Research Tuck well. And then use the interview to learn even more about us. Think about what compelled you to apply to Tuck, and articulate how you envision yourself contributing to the community. But remember—we don’t expect you to know everything about the school! Your interviewer is a second-year student that knows Tuck well and could be a wealth of information for you. I encourage you to ask questions that cannot be easily answered through our marketing materials or website. As you will see, our interviewers are excited about Tuck and are eager to answer your questions.

The virtual interview format requires some additional preparation. Due to health risks associated with COVID-19, we will conduct admissions interviews virtually for the 2020-2021 application year. The guidance above applies both to in-person and to virtual interviews.  However, we encourage you to keep a few additional details in mind when preparing for the virtual format.

  • Dress professionally, and maintain good posture and body language
  • Position your camera a little above your eye level, leaving your head and shoulders visible and 10-20% of the top of the screen unfilled
  • Sit facing your light source, allowing for a clear and bright video
  • Minimize background distractions and outside noise

The interview starts from the moment your interviewer greets you. First impressions are formed early on. Log in on time, or better yet, a little early. Present yourself with confidence and composure. Your interviewer will likely initiate small talk as you establish and test your virtual connection. Stay positive and be confident. Building rapport is as important in a virtual interview as it is in person. You can replicate this positive effect virtually by smiling, holding good eye contact or giving a confident wave to your interviewer. After that, keep the small talk going by asking related questions in return, and use it as a chance to continue building rapport with your interviewer before you dive into the bulk of the interview.

Interviewing is a great way to demonstrate your alignment with Tuck’s criteria. It’s also an unparalleled opportunity to connect with a second year student and get a feel for our school’s culture. We truly look forward to hearing more of your story. Prepare, relax, and be confident. You will shine!