Reflections on the group interview exercise
We completed three pilot group interview exercises over the last month - one in Beijing, one in Shanghai and one in Ann Arbor. I couldn't have been more pleased with the experience. The level of engagement among the facilitators (Ross alumni and current students) as well as applicants was high. During the training session and debrief with facilitators, there was widespread support for doing this. Many of our alums shared that their companies do a similar group exercise to assess candidates' interpersonal, communication and teamwork skills. Candidates were anxious, at first. But at the conclusion of the exercise, we heard and received positive feedback about the experience. Here are some of the comments we got back from a survey:
- "The group interview was surprisingly fun and gave me the opportunity to get a glimpse of the personalities of my potential classmates."
- "It forced me to think outside the box and I enjoyed interacting with other students."
- "I really liked the group activity and wished we were evaluated on it."
The reality with one-on-one interviews is that candidates are generally well-prepared for them. The AdComm knows that the questions we ask are widely shared on online forums (even though we encourage interviewers to make the conversation customized and organic). We know that candidates get coaching from consultants or friends, and rehearse many of the expected questions. Because of all this, the people we meet in one-on-one interviews are sometimes quite different from the people who end up sitting in the classroom and working on team projects.
The group exercise enabled us to get a valuable glimpse into candidates' interpersonal and communication styles. Candidates may (mistakenly) think that we're looking for a particular set of behaviors, and that they would do well to exhibit those presumed desired behaviors (e.g., leadership). But we're not. Really.
We'll assess the contribution of the group interviews to our evaluations at the end of the admissions cycle and tackle the challenge of scaling it should we decide to roll it out more broadly next year.
Where are we with Round 2 Decisions?
The ADs (Associate Directors) have been holed away in their offices reading applications on their dual monitors. They posted signs on their doors that say "Under Construction - Building the Ross Class of 2015." We had a bit of a disruption yesterday when the power went out. The ADs were at first stressed about keeping up with our timeline for getting decisions completed, but then happy for the forced break from their screens. Fortunately for them and for applicants, the power came back on so that they can stay on track with getting their recommendations to me by the end of the week. I'll review and revise decisions over the weekend and hand them over to the Associate Dean for final approval by the end of next week.
Included in our Round 2 review will be a re-review of Round 1 waitlisted candidates. We're often asked, "What are the chances of getting in off the waitlist?" That's a question that has no concrete answer as it is a function of a number of variables: the total number of admission offers we make, the yield on those offered admission, the number of people placed on the waitlist (which varies from year to year), other schools' admissions offers and waitlist actions (as many of us admit the same candidates), and a few other factors. The only numbers over which we have control are the number of admission and waitlist offers we make. All other variables are beyond our control, so it isn't reasonable to give an estimate at this point.
That said, take heart that we do admit many people off of the waitlist each year. I recently got a great email from one of our alums in NY. We had admitted him (and his then-girlfriend, now, wife) off of the waitlist in early June. He wrote, " I always wanted to say this to you, but I just never found the right time to do it...thank you for taking a chance on me. Going to Ross was honestly life changing for [my wife] and me. Our careers are much better, our network is far stronger, and I made life-long friends. Not to mention, we had a great time in Ann Arbor for those two years."
The team and I are looking forward to welcoming a new group of students into our community on March 15, and meeting you at events around the world in the coming months. I know the wait is hard and appreciate that you entrust us to make good decisions about who will be in your class.