Wharton interview and other developments

I just got through my Wharton interview. Bottom line: it went “very well” (quote from interviewer).

And now the details…

It was a hectic day at work as usual, building upon yesterday’s madness and increasing frustrations as the Director on my project keeps expanding the scope on me, knowing full well what our resource limitations and time constraints are. I spent 1.5 hours arguing with him and another senior manager on my team yesterday morning to lasso the scope back within the realm of reason. The afternoon went much the same way as we debated around these issues again, and it aggravated me to no end that they would waste precious time– essentially an entire day– deep diving into philosophical debates and far-out requests. I’d worked myself into a lather by the time I got home last night, which probably contributed to my need for early grooming because my hair felt like it stood on end; my nerves were certainly fried and my patience, hardly bountiful to begin with, had long since short-circuited.

So today was crunch day, to make up for the productivity lost yesterday. My brain felt like it’d been put through a cheese grinder by mid afternoon, and all I had to eat was one banana the entire day (that and 2 cups of coffee to sustain my energy level). I was speaking gibberish before long, at which time both my client team leader and myself agreed to call it a day.

Midday, I called HBS admissions about my interview scheduling, and realized during the conversation that I had in fact ignored several urgent calls from adcom to reschedule my interview! They left me VMs at my work number, which I hardly ever check because I hate VMs (I’m much more of an email type person). Another black mark against my name– I can just see it now– “Applicant X is not only troublesome and bloated with self-importance because she refuses to arrange her schedule to accommodate her exalted alum interviewer, she is also irresponsible and disrespectful of the application process because she does not return her calls even when they are of the utmost urgency…” Yes… great way to make myself memorable to the admissions committee…

Nevertheless, the admin officer (who was again very understanding and friendly) and I managed to agree on a phone interview in early Dec. And my new interviewer will be an adcom board member (rather than an alum). I think all in all, it’s not a bad situation. At the very least, I don’t have to worry about how I look! No more struggles with shirt collars, hair brushes, and socks that won’t stay up…

So I drive home from work early to allow myself a bit of breathing time before the W interview tonight. In preparation, I watched a DVD (Notting Hill) while drinking my third cup of coffee for the day and chowing down on celery (with a very large scoop of whole-fat ranch dressing) and hard-boiled eggs to help me stay alert (carbohydrates make me sleepy).

I arrived at our appointed meeting place (Starbucks– the same one at which the “Houston gang” congregated recently) 20 minutes early (good thing the location was right near my apartment so I wasn’t a victim of my bad sense of direction again), as suggested by adcom and sat in a corner pretending to read a book while staring blankly into space, my brain barely functioning.

My interviewer actually arrived a few minutes early as well, and I saw her come in, she also saw me, but was probably misled by my pretense of reading a book because she went to her own corner without even attempting to make contact. After a few moments of observation, I approached her and we moved to another Starbucks (directly across the street) to have our conversation.

I have a good sense of people, and she radiated friendly vibes. She was obviously not the overly extroverted type, but she was open and amiable. Immediately I felt more comfortable with the interview and was very happy with my interviewer selection (I had other choices).

The interview was relatively informal, though she asked all the standard questions:

  • Walk me through your resume
  • What are your career plans
  • Why MBA
  • Why Wharton
  • Give me an example of a recent leadership experience
  • Tell me about a time where your integrity was compromised/ challenged
  • What other schools are you applying to
  • What questions do you have for me

And that was basically it. It lasted almost an hour. I think I might have been long-winded on some parts, but then, given the complexity of my “story” there really is no way to short-cut it. She didn’t maintain eye contact the entire time, sometimes taking notes, sometimes looking very briefly somewhere else, and I took those away-glances as cues to GET ON WITH IT! Overall, I think she was engaged and was genuinely interested in my story. She specifically asked that I keep her updated on my application progress and we exchanged cards. She encouraged me to contact her if I had any other Qs. I figure, if she was only pretending to be engaged, she’d have used the first opportunity to escape my droning presence.

So I feel pretty positive about the interview, and I’m happy to have had this experience to inform my HBS interview process. But most of all I’m glad to have this ticked off of my endless list of To-do’s. Now it’s entirely out of my hands, and so no longer my responsility. I feel lighter already…

Now if only Stanford would send me that precious interview invite… If only…