The Tuesday Q&A: Should I Interview On-Campus, or Off?

QUESTION:

I’ve been invited to interview at Wharton and I have the option of doing my interview in India in the next week, or on campus in 3 weeks. While I’d like to visit campus for my interview, I’m just not sure if i can make it happen in such a short time frame. Is not visiting going to look bad for me?

ANSWER:

Suuure, happy to offer up some thoughts. I have spoken with adcoms directly about this exact issue. After all, maaaany of the people applying to these b-schools are doing so from a foreign country that is very, very far away, and this is a question and a concern that comes up all the time.

And the honest truth: They DO want you to make it.

Will it look bad if you don’t? Nnnope.  But will it look good if you do?  OF COURSE IT WILL. Why?  Three simple reasons.

1) The money, compared to the cost of an MBA, is relatively little. I know it’s hard to see it that way, but that’s the truth.

2) How can you prove that you REALLY wanna go there without EVER visiting? Of course, if you’ve already visited the campus, coming in for your interview isn’t quite as important (although, always worth it if you can swing it). But if you haven’t, get there. Not only to show the adcom that you’re serious about attending, but to get a feel for the place you could be spending the next one to two years!

3) At this stage, when approved for an interview, EVERY little bit of help… well, helps. This is another way to prove yourself to the adcom, above your peers. Flying in, showing up, meeting the interviewer in person – going to all that trouble proves to them how badly you want to be there, and how hard you’ll work to go after something you want.

Now, if you simply cannot make it happen, it isn’t the end of the world.  But one thing’s for sure – at that point, you sure have even LESS room for error in your interviews. You’re going to need to be polished and prepared for anything.  In person, you will have a touch more room for minor blunders or mistakes.

Oh, and one more thing: if you get waitlisted, we’d always recommend visiting. (And for the same reasons listed above.)  So…better to go NOW, than to go then. I mean, if you would visit “if waitlisted,” then why wait til that point Go NOW, when it can truly impact your chances.

That all make sense?

Whatever interview option you take, good luck! And if you need help preparing, we’re here for ya…

— Jon Frank

Is a One-Year MBA Program Right for You?