My Kellogg Interview Debrief

This is a long overdue post! A lot of Indian applicants, having scheduled interviews in March, reached out to me asking about my interview experience with Kellogg.

I¬†had a Skype interview with a member of the admissions committee. Since it was my first business school interview, I was jumpy and nervous. As with most business school interviews, it was friendly and conversational, and within a few minutes of starting the interview, I was in the zone and calmer than I was when the interview started. ūüôā

The questions I was asked were fairly standard and there were no surprises there (thank goodness!). I made a note of all the questions I was asked during the interview immediately after it was done (you guys have no idea how long it took me to locate this piece of hastily-scribbled-on paper from months ago). These are the questions I was asked:

Give me a high level overview of your career till date – especially focusing on why you made the career choices that you did. Take your time.

Are you an individual contributor or do you work in a team? (If you work in a team, do people report to you?) 

Do you prefer working in a team or as an individual contributor? Explain your reasons.

What would your team say is your greatest strength at work? What would your team say was the one thing they’d change about you¬†at work?

(Same questions as above for “What would your manager say…?”)

Talk about a challenging professional experience that you had. What was your thought process? How did you handle the situation?

What are your short term and long term career goals? How will Kellogg help you achieve these goals?

Why did you apply to Kellogg?

How will you contribute to Kellogg?

What are your interests outside of work? (and a few follow-up questions about this)

Is there anything you’d like to add? If there’s anything that you think has not been mentioned in your application or that has not been discussed during the interview – you can talk about it now. (She did mention this was not a question to throw the candidate off-balance, but just an opportunity for us to address anything that we think they might’ve missed. I felt that I had¬†not adequately addressed how smitten I was¬†with Kellogg, so I spent a few minutes talking about MMM and my fit with Kellogg based on all my research. She seemed impressed with all the research I did on Kellogg, and commented on the fact that I was able to get so much information despite living halfway across the world.)

Then it was time for questions. I asked just 1-2 questions, and then we signed off. The entire interview lasted about 40 minutes.

These are my takeaways from the interview, and some important pointers:

– While the interviewer was friendly, it was not what I’d call an informal interview. You have to treat it like any job interview – be courteous, and be friendly, but retain some formality.

– Look at the interviewer and the camera. This is especially important in a Skype interview. You have to try and make eye contact to make it feel like a conversation. Don’t keep looking at yourself in the camera and adjusting your position accordingly (they can tell if you’re constantly checking¬†yourself out on screen).

– I think it’s very important to showcase your passion for the school and focus on your fit with the school’s culture. In your answers, focus on team work and collaboration. Talk about all the things that (in your opinion) make Kellogg the¬†best place for you to spend the next 2 years of your life. Admissions want to make sure that they take people who really want to join. Make sure they know that if you get in, you will attend Kellogg.

– Speak clearly and concisely. This is not really specific to Kellogg and you should do this in any interview, but Kellogg grads have a reputation for being good communicators – reinforce this image in your interview by enunciating clearly, not stammering and being as grammatically correct as you can be. It’s okay to take a few moments to collect your thoughts before answering a question. Don’t just rush into an answer without knowing what you want to talk about, or you’ll end up rambling!

Good luck to all the R2 applicants interviewing with Kellogg! Reach out to me if you have any further questions – I’d be happy to chat.

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The Decision is Made…

And I have decided that I will be attending Kellogg School of Management. I’ve been accepted to the Kellogg MMM program, and I truly believe this program is a great fit for my future goals. There were a lot of factors that weighed in my decision, some of which I’ve listed out in an earlier post. I will do a longer follow-up post soon.

I am finally at peace about my decision and can get excited about preparing for business school. I will be flying out to Chicago¬†this June. Wheeeeeee! ūüėÄ

I can’t wait to hear my fellow bloggers decisions. Out with it!¬†ūüôā

Kellogg Video Essay Questions

Most Kellogg applicants I know are intimidated and stressed out by the Video Essay component of the application that has been in play since 2013. This year, there are some changes in the video essay section as compared to last year.

1. The applicant is expected to answer 2 questions – 1 behavioural (ice-breaker) question and 1 Kellogg-specific question.

2. Less time to prepare: Last year, applicants had 1 minute to formulate an answer to the question that was asked. This year, we get 20 seconds.

3. No option to redo the essay: Once you record an answer to your video essay question, that’s it. Irrespective of¬†it went, there is just that one chance to record your answer.

Video Essay Questions List

I have listed real video essay questions that applicants have encountered in the 2014-2015 admissions cycle.

Behavioural Questions

What is the best piece of advice you have ever gotten?

What is your favorite TV show?

Tell us about your first job.

If you could teach any course, what would it be?

What is the one thing you have always wanted to try?

When did you realize you were good at your job?

What interesting or fun fact would you want your future Kellogg classmates to know about you?

[I found this blog by Piyush Jain immensely helpful while preparing for the behavioural question section – he’s listed out a ton of questions from last year as well.]

Kellogg-specific questions

Why are you applying to Kellogg?

What do you anticipate will be your contribution to the Kellogg community?

What makes you a great fit for Kellogg?

What is your favourite club at Kellogg?

Advice for applicants attempting the Video Essay section: Be yourself. Do not try and give scripted responses to the questions that are asked. It is good to be prepared so that you know what you want to talk about in the answer to each question listed above – so make sure you introspect to really know yourself. But apart from that, just be casual and confident. The adcom is not looking at the strength of your vocabulary or your oratory skills – they just want to know that you can speak in a clear, concise manner and that you can articulate your thoughts and communicate them to your classmates effectively.

It’s okay to be nervous, but remember that this is just one part of the application. It is an important part, as you get to show the admissions committee a side of you that they don’t get to see on paper. But it is just one piece of the puzzle, so relax and give it your best shot.

All the Best, and let me know how your video essays went!

Why I love Kellogg and the MMM Program

Kellogg MMM Program

I have noticed over the last month or so that quite a few of you in the blogosphere – My Life of Bliss, Pulling that MBA Trigger, ProGMAT¬†and a few others¬†are interested in Kellogg’s MMM Program. Some of you are on the fence about it while others have decided to apply (and I hope I’ve played a part in helping you make that decision ūüėČ ). With that in mind, I thought I should do a (long overdue) post on everything I love about MMM. Irrespective of whether I make it to Kellogg (but I sooo hope I do!), I think this is post could be useful for those of you evaluating the program.

1. Product Management career path: They recently revamped the entire MMM program to make it more Product Management/Innovation focused, and this¬†ties in with my¬†future goals¬†of Product Management and tech entrepreneurship. I hope I was able to sufficiently¬†articulate the¬†“fit”¬†with the program in my application. If you’re looking at similar roles in your career, I would recommend the MMM program.

2. Design Thinking focus:¬†What I’ve noticed as a Product Manager is that:

(a) Finding the right problem to solve is more important than problem-solving itself: You really need to get into the end-user’s head to figure out what feature/design would make the most sense to them/what would they like to see in your product – only then will your product be a successful one. The Design Thinking approach taught in the MMM program teaches you think from the end-user’s perspective and to find the right opportunities from myriad data. I think is an invaluable tool, not just for Product Managers but for entrepreneurs as well (which is my long-term goal).
(b) General Design courses: As a MMM student, you have the opportunity to take specific design courses from the Segal Institute. Not only can you learn about how to create great user experiences, these courses also add to your course credit!
3. Awesome Courses and Experiential Learning : Have you seen the MMM course list? It’s super interesting! There are courses like Research-Design-Build where you form groups and actually get your hands dirty and conceptualize, develop and launch your own product in a group. There’s also an¬†Integration Project in addition to your regular¬†Internship where you get to work in teams to solve a real-life business/design problem for a company – so there’s more focus on experiential learning.
4. Dual Degree: This is just a perk! ūüôā You graduate with a Kellogg MBA as well as an MS in Design Innovation, which is pretty cool – both for future job opportunities and¬†for wow-ing ¬†potential investors.
5. Small Class + Great Networking Opportunities: You get to have the best of both worlds! You take ALL your classes with the rest of your 50-odd classmates and you can form really strong bonds with them, but you also take core¬†classes with regular 2Y Kellogg MBA students, so you’re not missing out on anything! Another perk is that you get to start early on campus. If you are a MMM student, you start classes in June – one full quarter earlier than the other Kellogg students(more time to spend on campus – yay!), but ultimately you graduate together with the Kellogg FT 2Y¬†class.
6. Selectivity:¬†I’m not quite sure whether to put this in this list or the cons list. Yes, they have a class size of only 60. But I found out that they get only about 350-400 applications for the MMM program. (that might change this year as they’ve been making an effort to spread more awareness about MMM) So the selectivity rate is about the same for Kellogg MBA and MMM. They take about 1 in 5 candidates. But I like my chances better in MMM – I’d rather compete against 400-500 applicants than 4000 applicants! You do have to keep in mind though that even though there are only around 350 applicants for MMM, these will likely be people with stellar profiles who really¬†know what they want from the program and their career. It’s ¬†slightly intimidating to compete with a group like that. I’ll leave you to make a decision if this point must be in the pros or cons ¬†list. ūüôā
7. Interviews:¬† This not exactly a MMM-specific point, but is characteristic of Kellogg. Since Kellogg tries to interview everyone, it’s just great to get an opportunity to show the admissions committee a side of you that might not have translated well in the application. You can really let your personality shine ūüôā
Apart from all the above reasons, which are specific to MMM, I love Kellogg for KELLOGG. It’s just such an amazing school – all the people I’ve spoken to in the last few months from Kellogg have been so¬†helpful and friendly (characteristic of Kellogg students) and the wealth of information I’ve gotten from them has only made me more excited to apply and (hopefully!) attend Kellogg. For those of you looking to get in touch with alumni/current students, I’d recommend just reaching out to people on LinkedIn.
To get an idea of the school’s culture, you could take a look at:
  • ¬†#MyKellogg on Instagram. The pictures are endless. Students are most active on Instagram as compared to all other social media!
  • Youtube: There are SO many videos that you could get lost out there. Apart from¬†Kellogg’s Official Youtube Channel¬†which is a great source of Kellogg-related material, you should most definitely check out the LipDub Videos, CIM Showcase videos¬†and other random videos made by students to witness¬†Kellogg’s student¬†camaraderie firsthand. If you’re interested in¬†glimpses of what business school classes at Kellogg are going to be like, you should find¬†those¬†videos as well. An example is¬†Harry Kraemer on Values Based Leadership¬†– it’s something I’ve watched at least 3 times!¬†I¬†also regularly watch videos¬†by¬†Mohanbir Sawhney¬†– I find his insights on technology, innovation and consumer products fascinating!
These are some resources I used to get to know MMM better:

Kellogg MBA Students Blog 

Kellogg MMM Student Perspectives

“This is MMM” Facebook Group

MMM Schedule РCourses and 2Y Plan

Kellogg Interview Invite! Yay!

Wheeeeeeeeeeee!!! ūüėÄ ūüėÄ

I know, I know – Kellogg interviews everyone. Or at least they try to. (wait, is it right to end a sentence with a preposition? Huh.)

Nevertheless, I’m¬†super happy and all over the place. I honestly thought I’d screwed up the video essay so badly that I’d receive an interview waiver and a subsequent ding. I’m glad to be getting a second chance at my dream school for the program that’s perfect for me!

I just spoke to a very nice lady at the admissions office and scheduled my interview for Nov.7th, 2014. I had a slight panic attack when she checked and told me I could do the interview on Oct. 23rd (*gasp* – too soon! TOO SOON!) at 3.30pm CST, but I kept my cool and asked her if I could do the interview during their AM. The next slot available at that time was in November, but oh well. It gives me time to prepare for the interview. And to finish my Anderson app¬†without freaking out. Speaking of – I should be freaking out about my Anderson app¬†coz it’s nowhere close to done. My essay is in no shape to be reviewed, much less submitted. Time to roll up my sleeves and really get to it.

Whew. 2 school apps submitted, 2 interview invites. Admit or ding – I’m happy enough for¬†now.¬†ūüôā