How Much Does the MBA Admissions Interview Matter?

I’ve had this discussion with a number of folks as I’ve prepared for my upcoming interviews.  Some people tell you not to stress out about it.  They feel that most of your application is already submitted and the interview is just a chance to further personalize your candidacy.  Others say that your entire application rides on the interview and have detailed prep strategies on how to conduct yourself.

Why it Might Matter a Lot

Most schools have an accept-to-interview ratio of about 50%.  If you consider the size of certain admission classes, this is huge investment in both time and resources.  That’s a lot of people to interview if the “decision”  has already been made.  Additionally, for graduate programs outside of the business world, the interview can be weighted to as much as 50% of your overall application.

Why it Might Not Matter That Much

If you’ve conducted or sat through a number of interviews, you know that they are subjective in nature.  The interviewer has complete control of how well or how poorly the interview will go.  And even with all the training in the world, there’s no way to ensure that you’ll get the same interview as the guy next to you.  If the B-schools agree with this, they may not weigh heavily your interview performance and use it as more of a screener.

What I Think

People on the forums have varying opinions and I’m sure that each school does it a little differently.  My feeling is that while an interview might not change a decision from a “yes-to-no” or vice versa, the fact that you don’t know whether or not you’re on the cusp makes it important to everyone applying.  What do you think?

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