How important is the interview in the admissions process and what specific applicant traits are you using the interview to gauge?
The interview is one of the most important things you can do if the rest of your package is solid. At our school, we do not admit people who have not had an evaluative interview. But we may deny candidates who have not yet interviewed just based upon the information in their application. We have an Open Season that starts in September and ends in the early part of January. In this Open Season we will interview anyone who has submitted Part One of our application. In mid-January we move to what is called our Closed Season. At that point we reserve the interviews for people we have screened and invited to interview.
When we deny admission to someone who was never invited to interview, it is because the Admissions Committee has concluded from the material already reviewed that the applicant is not competitive enough for admission. We have to deny fantastic applicants every year because our class size is relatively small compared to the number of qualified applicants. To try to give yourself some advantage, it is best to apply (and be ready) early. I suggest that you look at the interview as your way of selling your candidacy and as a way of determining whether UNC Kenan-Flagler is where you want to be.
What types of questions should applicants expect to be asked?
At UNC we have a very tight list of attributes that we are evaluating and an interviewer may get to that using his/her own personal interviewing style. The success of your interview is going to be a combination of how you can establish a rapport with that interviewer and how well you are able to be yourself. We are looking to gauge your leadership potential, we are looking to see how focused you are and what your focus is in terms of why you want an MBA and what you see yourself doing with the MBA. We are looking for your passion, we are looking for what kind of person you are. We are also looking for the contributions you expect to make and the things that you value. It is very important for us at UNC to see how you will fit in this community. You should have concrete reasons for applying to UNC and be able to articulate them in the interview, when asked.
Who can an applicant expect to interview with at Kenan-Flagler?
If you come visit our campus you will be interviewed by a member of our admissions team, none of which are students. We have students who are very involved with admissions in that they serve on the advisory board and also host and greet our visitors, but students do not make admissions decisions. Our students are very capable and I think they would add a lot of value to that process. Yet, no student would be able to devote as much time to reading applications and interviewing candidates that we require in order to serve as a member of the admissions committee. We want visiting candidates to see our students as their advocates. Candidates can ask students whatever questions you have without worrying that the student is evaluating you.
Approximately 1/3 of our applicants are not living in the United States. We do not expect most international applicants to be able to travel to campus for an interview or visit. We have alumni members of the admissions committee, who interview candidates. Most of the alumni interviews take place outside the United States. All interviews carry the same weight. It doesn’t matter whether you interview on campus or off campus or via telephone. It doesn’t matter whether your interview is with an admissions director or with an alumnus.
How are re-applicants viewed by Kenan-Flagler and what do they need to do to be successful the second time around?
We try to give them information that will drive a better application the second time around. We start usually in May, June and July. We try to give them feedback every year. Every year the pool changes. What it took to get in this year, it might take 10% more next year, or 10% less. We never know where the pool is going to be, but we do try to give people some sense of what it was about their application that was not competitive with the people who were admitted. We have found that people who have taken advantage of that feedback and applied in subsequent years have a slightly higher chance of being admitted than the average candidate.