Carolina blue skies

“Carolina blue skies,” my cousin calls it. I continued staring up at the expansive, blue skies that stretched as far as I could see. North Carolina, as far as I could tell, was very flat and very green. It was sunny, had friendly highways (and I do mean friendly – I saw drivers backed up for half a mile on a 2-lane exit because they didn’t want to skip and merge ahead), and an interesting trifecta of cities known as Research Triangle Park: Raleigh, Chapel Hill, and Durham. I liked it.

Well, I officially have my first business school interview out of the way! In retrospect, I should have probably prepped a bit more, because I am not a natural bullshitter. Though it can be much easier to become conversational when speaking about something from the heart or a specific personal hobby, the admissions team doesn’t want to hear about how much I want to be admitted. They want to know why, and what I will contribute, etc. (The want… is a given.) Answering those questions, well, for me personally, take some planning, writing, and preparation to really nail.

“Just be yourself.”
“Don’t worry about it.”
“Oh, it’s nothing. It’s so conversational.”
(grinning) “I’m not worried about it at all. I’m just gonna go and talk.”

These are just several reactions I received over the day from various admissions staff and fellow prospective students. Everyone handles their interviews differently, I suggest you find your own way as well!

I believe my interview went fairly well. The interviewer was a 2nd year international student from Chile and a father; as a result, I found it difficult to assess whether we really connected right off the bat. It felt more formal and professional than I had expected, considering all of the feedback I had read about regarding the interview as being so “conversational”. This however, might have been due to the fact that English was not his first language, or perhaps it was the first interview he conducted, or a host of other reasons. He asked me questions from a set list and took notes as I spoke, pausing to make eye contact occasionally with a welcoming smile. I was pleased to find myself with answers ready for all of the questions, as I have had tendencies in the path to freeze from unexpected questions.

The questions were your typical run-of-the-mill Why MBA, Why Duke, walk me through your resume questions. One of the more interesting questions I received was when he asked me what I would say if I had just one minute in front of the admissions board. In retrospect, I am now a bit worried if he asked me this because I wasn’t providing enough specifics or I was being unclear about my career goals!

The interview wrapped up nicely after he allowed some time for me to ask him a few questions. One (hopefully non-critical) mistake I am slapping myself for was forgetting to send my follow-up thank you e-mail. I am writing this blog post almost a week out from my interview date… and yup… I still sent my thank you e-mail but it may be for naught considering how many days the interviewer had to submit his forms. Still, it felt like the right thing to do, regardless of whether or not it would play a factor in the admissions process.

One thing Fuqua excelled at was providing the opportunity to ask questions. Lots of questions. In between admissions events, you will find yourself sitting in their waiting lounge area, where Fuqua sends a rotating cast of current Fuqua students to serve as “lounge hosts”. They’re essentially there to answer any questions you have. Then you have the Informational Student Panel. You might have an HSM representative swing by to take questions. Your tour guide will urge you to ask questions. Your interviewer will likely allow you to ask questions. So have your questions ready!!!

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