Do’s and Dont’s for the MBA Info Session

MBA Link
PUBLISHED ON
July 2, 2019

Do’s and Dont’s for the MBA Info Session

MBA Info Sessions continue to be a hugely important part of the B school recruiting process, for both schools and candidates. They can come in a few different formats, but whichever type of Info Session you are headed to, there are a few rules you can follow that will allow you to make the most of the session.

Let’s talk quickly about the different types of Info Sessions

1. MBA Fairs

MBA Fairs are like trade shows for business school. They usually involve representatives from several business schools traveling together from city to city to connect and meet with candidates. Popular MBA Fairs include The MBA Tour, The QS World Tour and The Access MBA Fairs.

MBA Fairs will typically feature a mixture of panel discussions, group discussions with reps at their booths and in some cases, pre-scheduled one on one meetings with school reps.

MBA Fairs are a great opportunity to speak to lots of school reps and get a sense for the full landscape of offerings available.

2. Multi-School Events

Multi-school events are different from MBA Fairs in that the event is hosted by a group of schools themselves rather than a separate company. Probably the most well known multi-school event is hosted by what’s often called the S7 group of business schools; Johnson (Cornell), Darden (U Virginia), Ross (U Michigan), Haas (Berkeley), Yale SOM, Stern (NYU) and Fuqua (Duke).

Click Here to Register for 2019 Multi-School Events

These prestige US schools know that they’re often drawing from a similar pool of applicants and take advantage of this by traveling together to present to the local interested population. Unlike MBA Fairs which are usually attended exclusively by admissions reps on the supply side, multi-school events usually draw out local alumni of the attending universities, which presents a unique networking opportunity.

3. Single School Info Sessions

Single school info sessions take place both on campus and on the road. Every school has info sessions on their campus that usually involve a presentation by an admissions rep, and often a Q&A and possibly a campus tour or classroom visit that will often get current students involved. On campus info sessions are usually considered the most authentic way to really get a feel for the school and should be taken up whenever possible.

Schools will also travel to offer the single school info session if they feel they have enough interest in a given geography to warrant one. Single school info sessions on the road usually feature a presentation by an admissions rep, followed by Q&A with local alumni. Either on campus or on the road single school info sessions will sometimes feature a mock class with a professor, but not every school does this and it is more common on campus.

While this list contains the most common forms of MBA info sessions, the ways that schools recruit is constantly evolving and there are some less common but very interesting other ways to interface with schools. One such way is the Pre-MBA Case Competition hosted annually by MBA Link in Singapore.

The Pre-MBA Case Competition is a unique event hosted by MBA Link in Singapore

Although candidates often get nervous about meeting admissions reps and alumni from a school they’re interested in, the truth is that it’s harder to really mess up one of these interactions than you might think. Alumni are incredibly unlikely to report a bad interaction unless it’s truly abysmal and admissions reps are accustomed to nervous candidates and are very forgiving. Ultimately, your application will be the primary deciding factor on whether you get admitted and it isn’t easy to move the needle in either direction based on your behavior at an info session.

That said, there are a few simple do’s and dont's you can follow to maximize the MBA info session opportunity. Follow these simple rules to chart a path to your ultimate goal, creating MBA optionality.

Do Arrive On Time

If work keeps you late and you aren’t able to show up at the designated time, you should still come. Walk in quietly and take your seat without fanfare. However, you should note that some events may not allow latecomers. Arriving anywhere from 20 minutes early to right on time allows the session to get started smoothly and is most respectful to both your hosts and the other attendees. Arriving too early, like when they are still setting up, can be as disruptive as arriving late.

Don’t Ask a Question You Can Find Online

Asking a question that is easily accessible online is one of the fastest ways to demonstrate to anyone listening that you’re still in the early exploration phase of the MBA application process. Examples of questions that are almost always on a school’s website include:

What’s the average GMAT score for your admitted applicants?

What kinds of companies do graduates from your school get employed by?

Do you offer scholarships?

Again, asking one of these questions won’t disqualify you from a program, it just doesn’t paint you in the best light and if you’re looking to overperform on the application you should leave these questions to other candidates.

Other questions you shouldn’t ask:
- Anything where you try to stump the admissions rep
- Anything that applies only to you and will be of no interest to other attendees
- Any question that requires a long preamble

So what kind of questions should you ask? The best questions will be ones that the entire audience can benefit from and be open ended enough that gives the admissions rep or alumni the opportunity to freestyle a bit. Examples of good questions include:
- What are some of the things that students at your school do for fun?
- How do students at your school leverage the resources of the broader university?
- What are some of the ways students support each other through the internship search?

There’s honestly a lot more good questions than there are bad questions. The bad questions are just unfortunately a lot more common. Asking great questions is one of the few ways to get noticed in a positive way at an MBA info session, so do your research, give it some thought and prepare a few good questions before you come. Just remember not to force it if the opportunity doesn’t present itself.

Do Dress in a Way That You Feel Comfortable

If you’re used to wearing formal attire at work, feel free to come dressed as such to your info session (maybe not for an on-campus info session on a weekend). If you work at a company where people dress more casually, that is fine as well. Keep in mind that candidates will tend to overdress a little for these sessions, and if you’re dressed too casually you may stand out.

Whether you choose to dress more formally or casually, do wear clothes that make you feel like you look good. If you’re someone who doesn’t at all care about your appearance, this wouldn’t be a terrible time to start.

Don’t Play With Your Phone

Whether the admissions rep or other candidates are speaking, don’t be the person on their phone the whole time. It’s disrespectful and it can set the energy in the room going against you. Be polite and attentive or just leave.

Do Hang Back to Talk After The Session

Most MBA info sessions are set up to offer more casual networking after the formal activities of the event. If you have a (good) question you didn’t get to ask, or if you’re just curious to press the flesh a little with your admissions rep or alumni, it’s definitely ok to hang around and chat. In many cases aggressive “crop circles” will form around reps and alumni. Don’t be intimidated, but don’t try and intimidate anyone else either.

DO NOT GIVE REPS REASON TO BELIEVE YOU ARE ANTISOCIAL OR DISRESPECTFUL TO PEERS

This is one of the few things that CAN get you eliminated at this stage. It’s fine to banter a bit if you feel a good vibe with who you’re talking to, but keep it professional. Remember that you’re there to learn, not specifically to “make friends”. There is one exception to this rule that I talk about in the accompanying video at the end of this post.

Don’t Ask For Feedback on Your Chances of Being Accepted

If there is one thing that you should take away from this article, it’s this: MBA info sessions are there for you to learn about the school. The application is there for the schools to learn about you. Trying to apply without applying isn’t just annoying, it’s illogical. Admissions reps will under almost all circumstances answer any such questions by telling you to apply, and the best thing you can do to increase your chances of success is to use the session for its intended purpose: learn about the school.

As with all things, there are some exceptions to this and if your situation is so unique (having a low gpa is not unique) that it genuinely warrants an answer, remember that almost every school’s admissions team is accessible through email or telephone. Ask yourself if you need to know the answer to this question right now.

I made a short companion video to this article with one more tip for maximizing the MBA info session. If you’re really keen on making the most of this opportunity, you’ll want to hear what I have to say.

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Melusi
BA, Philosophy, Harvard University
Swazi, based in Dubai
After graduating from Harvard University with a B.A. in Philosophy, Melusi began his career as an educator at the MATCH Middle School, a charter school devoted to educating disadvantaged youth in Boston. During his year-long fellowship at MATCH, Melusi honed his teaching and mentorship skills, which would serve him well in the years to come as an undergraduate admissions consultant and test prep trainer.

Melusi has over four years of experience in the test prep industry, preparing students for success in standardized tests such as the SAT, ACT, and GMAT, and in high school examination boards such as the International Baccalaureate and A-levels.

Drawing on his wealth of experience in the world of standardized testing, Melusi also develops content and curricula for test prep programs, which incorporate the best practices he has learned over the years. His passion for education lies in not only guiding his students in their quest for success but also encouraging them to believe in themselves and their capabilities.

How Melusi’s Experience Benefits You:

Melusi’s background and experience speaks to his dedication to education. He’s in this for the long haul.
He’s freaky smart, even in a company like ours which is made up of academic stars. Use his brain to enhance yours!
His training and experience adds to his natural talent for patience and breaking down difficult concepts so they are easy to understand.
Melusi
BA, Philosophy, Harvard University
Swazi, based in Dubai
After graduating from Harvard University with a B.A. in Philosophy, Melusi began his career as an educator at the MATCH Middle School, a charter school devoted to educating disadvantaged youth in Boston. During his year-long fellowship at MATCH, Melusi honed his teaching and mentorship skills, which would serve him well in the years to come as an undergraduate admissions consultant and test prep trainer.

Melusi has over four years of experience in the test prep industry, preparing students for success in standardized tests such as the SAT, ACT, and GMAT, and in high school examination boards such as the International Baccalaureate and A-levels.

Drawing on his wealth of experience in the world of standardized testing, Melusi also develops content and curricula for test prep programs, which incorporate the best practices he has learned over the years. His passion for education lies in not only guiding his students in their quest for success but also encouraging them to believe in themselves and their capabilities.

How Melusi’s Experience Benefits You:

Melusi’s background and experience speaks to his dedication to education. He’s in this for the long haul.
He’s freaky smart, even in a company like ours which is made up of academic stars. Use his brain to enhance yours!
His training and experience adds to his natural talent for patience and breaking down difficult concepts so they are easy to understand.
Katelyn
BA, Boston College
M.Ed, University if Notre Dame
American, based in Taipei, Taiwan
Katelyn has worked in admissions for nearly two decades, and most recently served as the Assistant Dean of MBA Admissions at Georgetown University's McDonough School of Business in Washington, D.C. In that role, she managed the Admissions and Scholarship Committees for both the Full-time and Part-time MBA programs, so she knows what top-tier MBA programs are looking for throughout the application review process. Throughout the years, Katelyn has recruited, evaluated and interviewed thousands of candidates, so she brings a broad base of experience, perspective and valuable insight to her MBA Link clients. (She also has a lot of funny stories to tell!) In her free time, she loves exploring her new home in Taipei with her husband and two young kids.

How Katelyn’s Experience Can Benefit You:

If you're looking for someone with direct experience, making admissions and scholarships decisions and advising eager MBA candidates, Katelyn is your person! She will help you create the strongest application possible and avoid the mistakes that many applicants make during the admissions process.
Katelyn is a pro when it comes to messaging and creating a compelling narrative for applicants. She will help you position yourself so that you're optimized for success throughout the MBA application process.
Staying on track and "beating deadlines, not just meeting them" is a key ingredient to success in the admissions process. Katelyn's organized and structured approach to client coaching will help you have an enjoyable experience and mitigate stress as much as possible. She will also help you keep your eye on the prize and be ready to celebrate when the offers of admission roll in!
Ann
Ann comes to us from the MBA Admission office at Cornell University’s SC Johnson Graduate School of Business where she spent almost 30 years. Her passion is working with a wide variety of candidates to help them realize their potential through an MBA.  Ann’s time in MBA admissions allowed her to travel throughout the world and connect with candidates from a wide variety of backgrounds and experiences.

Ann has a real soft spot for women, first generation college students and anyone with an atypical background – often they don’t have the family or social support to put an MBA on their goal list.  They may need a little boost to help them frame their experiences and contributions in a way that strengthens their confidence and their profile.  While working in MBA admissions, she also participated in organizations such as Management Leadership for Tomorrow and the Forte Organization which focus on helping underrepresented students prepare for business school.  Ann is excited to continue her career helping MBA applicants achieve their dreams.

Outside of work Ann loves travel, spending time with her husband and their dogs.  When they’re not traveling, they live in a beautiful part of Upstate New York with great access to lakes, hiking and biking trails.  Their newest interest is kayaking and they look forward to taking several kayaking trips on the Erie Canal soon.

How Ann’s Experience Benefits You:

30 year career of evaluating MBA candidates provide insight into the important elements of your profile.
Personal experience connecting non-traditional experience into career related skills that help set you apart as an MBA candidate.
As a coach, I am supportive, but want you to do the work to make your application as authentic as possible.
Vaibhav
MBA, INSEAD Business School
Indian, based in Singapore
Vaibhav has over 10 years of experience in senior commercial and management roles in various industries including consulting, audit, tech, education and not-for-profit across India, Mexico and Singapore. This allows him to understand our clients experiences' and guide them better. He now works for a Southeast-Asian tech company in Singapore.

Having started his journey in a small university in an Indian city, he managed to get himself exposure to work and travel around the world. He developed a passion for helping candidates inch closer to their dream business schools when he managed to get into top schools with a relatively low GMAT score, which is particularly difficult for an Indian male applicant, and is a strong advocate of how compelling personal stories can make an immense impact on applications and interviews.

He recently authored a book called "Happiness Project" and in his free time, plays tennis and coaches young professionals to crack interviews and get jobs abroad. Vaibhav has a deep passion for both coaching and interviewing and has coached many MBA applicants successfully.

How Can Vaibhav's Experience Benefit You:

No one knows our stories better than we do, but we often do not know how to structure it and share it in the best possible way. Vaibhav has the ability to draw out the best life experiences and transform your raw, unstructured thoughts to well thought out, compelling stories. He asks just the right questions to help you realise what it is that you really want and to co-create a picture of your future. All these conversations fit into our FAME model really well and allow you to leave your sessions with great stories and with an understanding of what you really want and where you really want to go.

Vaibhav has an insanely high rate of conversion based on his interviews. Be it for business schools in the past or in the corporate world now, he has been successful in clearing interviews with ease. He will be very helpful to anyone who wants to be ready for interviews, not just getting into business schools but also in the future once you are trying to land relevant internships and jobs.
Russell
BA, Trinity College
American, based in the US
Russell was the Associate Director of Admissions at Duke University Fuqua School of Business for 11 years. While some may not be as familiar with Fuqua, this program is consistently highly ranked, rating as high as #1 globally by Bloomberg in 2014.

Apple CEO Tim Cook and Gates Foundation cofounder Melinda Gates are some of Fuqua’s many distinguished alumni.

Russell is a globally recognized expert on recruitment strategies for international MBA programs recruiting from Asia. He led the Asia recruitment strategy for Duke Fuqua, which is well known as one of the most international US MBA programs, and has consulted with other schools on their Asia recruitment strategy.

Russell has been traveling to Asia for 10+ years and maintains high-level connections in the major cities throughout Asia.

How Russell’s Experience Helps You:

The sheer volume of experience he’s had in making decisions on thousand of MBA applicants over the years means you’ll have the best odds of making the cut in a competitive school.
If you are an Asian student, Russell understands better than anyone what US and international programs are looking for in Asian candidates since consulted on many of their Asian recruiting strategies.
Russell’s infectious personality outs him immediately as a people person. His warmth, encouragement, and heartfelt connection with our clients always earn him rave reviews during the often stressful application process.
Lawrence
Founder, CEO of MBA Link
BsBa, Georgetown University
MBA, Cornell University
American based in Singapore
After working as an admissions consultant for three years, Lawrence founded MBA Link because he didn’t think any other MBA admissions consulting firm was doing enough to support applicants in producing truly outstanding applications. Before working in MBA admissions, Lawrence worked in private wealth management and private equity.

In addition to managing MBA Link, Lawrence supports the MBA students at INSEAD as a career adviser based on the Singapore campus. Lawrence is passionate about entrepreneurship and education and volunteer teaches classes on entrepreneurship in public schools for Junior Achievement Singapore. Lawrence is an American with ethnic origins in the Caribbean and Eastern Europe and spent much of his childhood in Kenya.

How Lawrence’s Experience Benefits You:

Lawrence is a serial entrepreneur who is passionate about developing people and making breakthroughs in their professional lives. Anyone who’s spoken to Lawrence knows he has a way of pulling out their best.
Lawrence has lived on 3 separate continents for 5 years or longer, so he knows what it takes to integrate and succeed in a new country.
His father is a celebrated authority on creative problem solving in mathematics, and considering Lawrence’s success in finance and investing, the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree.
Bryna
BA, Barnard College
MBA, Yale University
Bryna Kranzler has a unique combination of skills in that she is both a writer and a business school graduate. She earned her B.A. in (Play)writing from Barnard College and her M.B.A. from Yale University School of Organization and Management. She spent 15 years in marketing positions for health care, high tech, and consumer products companies before returning to writing.

She has spent many years assisting students with their college and graduate school application essays. In 2014, she participated in an inaugural Yale Alumni Service Corps project to provide essay coaching and counseling to high-achieving, low-income students in West Virginia — the state with the lowest percentage of college graduates (11.7%) in the U.S. As one of the essay coaches, she worked with students to help them “put [their] heart[s] onto paper” for their application essays.

Bryna’s first book, The Accidental Anarchist, is the winner of multiple awards, including the Readers Favorite Award for Historical/Cultural Non-Fiction, the International Book Award, and National Indie Excellence Award for a Historical Biography.
Melissa
BA, Huntsman Program in International Studies and Business (dual-degree program from The Wharton School and College of Arts & Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania)
MBA, Wharton School of Business
MA, Arts Administration, Columbia University
Malaysian, based in Singapore
In her early career, Melissa successfully revived flagging Baileys sales in North America, and cracked marketing strategy challenges for the likes of American Express, British Telecom, and Frito-Lay as a marketing strategy consultant with Vivaldi Partners in New York.

Prior to that, Melissa began her career in investment banking and distressed debt, and has cut her teeth at Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, and JP Morgan.

An investigator at heart and a natural storyteller, Melissa loves digging deep to surface unarticulated motivations and unique opportunities for organizations or individuals, and weaving them into a compelling narrative to bring their story to life.  

She has done this in various capacities: as an innovation strategist in NYC and London with ?What If!, a boutique innovation consultancy, and as an opera performer and dramatic coach that is constantly looking for new angles to interpret text and unearth new insight into the stories and characters in her music.

Passionate about coaching and empowering individuals to realize their fullest potential, Melissa loves bringing her unique coaching approach to business school admissions to others as an admissions coach.In her spare time, Melissa enjoys little adventures with her toddler and working with arts non-profits to grow the opera audience in Asia for wonderful music that she believes still has the power to move and inspire us in magical ways.

How Melissa’s Experience Benefits You:

If you don’t know how to position yourself, rely on Melissa’s artsy and perceptive way of thinking combined with her exceptional academic experience to craft a compelling story about yourself.
After many years of admissions consulting experience, Melissa has honed a supportive yet firm hand in guiding candidates through the process.

If you are an MBA candidate with an artistic side, Melissa will show you how to merge your two worlds into one unbeatable combination.
Shawn
BA, Economics, University of Pennsylvania
MBA, Harvard Business School
American, based in the US
Shawn has over 15 years of investment banking experience, including time spent with Credit Suisse and Bank of Montreal.  He has participated in dozens of corporate finance transactions,  including mergers & acquisitions, corporate divestitures, leveraged buyouts and the sale of private and family-held businesses.

Additionally, Shawn has advised and consulted with several start-ups and middle market organizations.

He has significant experience developing and implementing strategies and solutions that achieve consensus among key stakeholders across organizations. Shawn also has 7 years of experience as an Alumni Interviewer for the University of Pennsylvania.

How Shawn’s Experience Benefits You:

If your career goals lean toward finance, Shawn is the expert you need.
Shawn is the kind of person who can take a big picture goal and implement it through minute detail.
As a resume coach, Shawn knows how to present you in the best light.
Venus
BA, Journalism, New York University
MBA, London Business School
Chinese, based in Canada
Venus is a former writer and editor turned brand marketing strategist, with experience in the travel, retail, and CPG industries. Her focus is on helping brands reach and build loyalty among consumers, often through creative storytelling. Her role as essay coach with MBA Link also revolves around helping clients tell compelling stories in their applications.

A graduate of London Business School, Venus now serves as an alumni interviewer for the organization.

How Venus' Experience Benefits You:

If you're looking to make a career switch, Venus can help transform your past experience and future ambition into one cohesive story
If there's an idea you want to convey but need help bringing to life, Venus will help you find the right words to craft your narrative
If you're a shy or naturally reserved candidate, Venus can share some time-tested tips for overcoming nerves and owning the spotlight!