OK, you asked for it, so here goes…
I’ll begin with my mistakes, and hopefully, in writing all this down, I can prevent future missteps from occurring…
What NOT to do (learnings from my unfortunate Stanford debacle):
Before the Interview
Do NOT unwittingly offend your potential recommender and active member of the adcom by indirectly (or even worse, directly) calling him “eccentric” and weird”.
Do NOT be too hasty and hand in your application essays before getting full feedback from individual(s) that can provide insightful comments based on their experience with the admissions process for the specific school you’re applying to.
Do NOT build up false expectations about the interviewer or interviewing experience prior to the interview. Expect the WORST, and you won’t be disappointed.
During the Interview
Do NOT blurt out how much you dislike the city or industry your interviewer loves even if you have to grind your teeth to dust to keep your honesty tightly leashed.
Do NOT instantly answer every question he/she asks you before thinking a second or two on the wherefores of the Q. If he/she keeps probing for “failures” 5 Qs in a row, it’s perfectly fine to say “I really can’t think of any other failure. I consider difficult situations valuable learning experiences, and therefore they are not failures even if the result is not what I expected.” (I’d like to smack myself upside the head for not thinking of this during my Stanford interview, because in truth, this is exactly how I feel about “failure” Qs. I really can’t consider any of my experiences, no matter how tough, real failures because I learn something new every time.)
After the Interview
And this is very important, ladies and gentlemen, although I’m sure none of you would be STUPID enough to do something like this. My tendency to be honest and share everything I think and feel is a HUGE drawback in certain situations. But hey, you live and learn, right? I just wish I can learn faster so I don’t keep repeating my mistakes!
Do NOT write in excruciating detail everything that happened during a “bad” interview (especially if you had an unfavorable impression of the interviewer) and post it on a public website. Not only that, notify the B school community of this ignominious post on public forums where you know Adcom members DO in fact visit.
As some of you know, I had a temporary bout of hysteria after I found out about the distinct possibility that my interviewer actually read my post on the interview experience (The original post was more detailed and more “whiney.”) Right then and there, I knew that my chances of getting into the school were slim to none. Up to that point, I really felt like I had a solid chance of getting in, despite the other hiccups.
I consider myself incredibly lucky in that I no longer cared for getting in after the interview, because if I DID care, I would have regretted all my mistakes during the process for a long, long time. As it is, I just shrug sheepishly and think: “it just wasn’t meant to be.”