Graduate Management News

October 2016

The Newsletter of the Graduate Management Admission Council

The Future of Interviewing: New Ways to Assess Talent

As new technologies continue to drive this essential part of the application process, it’s important to take a look at where we are and where we’re going.

Future of Interviewing

According to the 2015 GMAC Application Trends Survey Report, the interview was the single most important factor in the application process across the industry for our MBA programs. With 21 percent of the weight in full-time two year programs and 25 percent of the weight for executive programs, the interview outperforms transcripts, recommendations, and even the GMAT® exam itself when it comes to how we select our students.

Not only is the interview an opportunity to get to know the student, but it is a time to put our best foot forward and show who we are as a school. The questions we ask, the gestures we make, and the direction we drive the interviews tell the applicant what is important to our institution and the measure by which we are admitting their future fellow classmates.

Many schools enlist alumni to conduct interviews. This is a great way to get a “happy customer” in front of your applicants. However, you run the risk of the rogue alumnus who may show up late, veer from the training and script during the interview, or even worse – flat out insult an excellent candidate. 

Significant improvements in technology and the globalization of our markets have brought about change to the time-honored processes used by our admissions predecessors. We have had to adopt new ways of connecting with our applicants in order to maintain our reliance on interviews.

The technology we use also makes a statement about our school’s ability to make effective use the most modern technologies. What does it say about our programs if the admissions office is unable to use basic communication technologies?

With the introduction of Skype in 2003, we had the first opportunity to connect face-to-face with applicants around the world from our own offices. We quickly learned, however, that connections were not always reliable, which led to things like blurry faces and robot-like voices. Over time, improvements such as GoToMeeting and WebEx came along.

Next, came the pre-recorded interviews. YouTube video submissions were replaced by options like Kira Talent and Active Interview. They both made it possible to do a short-answer interview with a bank of randomized questions. This has helped a number of programs do a pre-screening before inviting applicants to a full-fledged, time-consuming, real-time interview.

Some programs have opted for the pre-recorded interview to count as the official interview since they can glean the information they need to make a decision from the answers to the randomized questions. Of particular interest in these new screening interviews is the ability to evaluate language skills. According to the same 2015 GMAC report, language abilities for international candidates weighs as much as 50 percent of the decision of most admissions offices.

So what happens in the next decade? With the release of virtual reality into the consumer markets this year, communication technology is taking yet another major leap forward. Perhaps by 2026 we will all be wearing VR headsets to interact with candidates or engage in an even more exciting option – lifelike applicant holographs beamed directly into the chairs across from our desk.

About the Author

Jay BryantJay Bryant is Director of Graduate Recruitment & Admissions at the Rady School of Management, University of California San Diego.