Friday 30 June 2006

MBA Interviews - IMD

I had an idea of what to expect from IMD. Their typical interview schedule is on their website. Unlike IESE, INSEAD and LBS, they refused me the option of interview in Buenos Aires but allowed me instead to postpone it by 3 weeks so that I didn't have to return early. Well, with the mini ordeal they put you through, it would have to take place in Switzerland.

I was due at the IMD MBA Admissions Office at 8.30am. First interview at 8.45. She questioned everything I've ever done, my motivations, my reasons. Wasn't it a bit risky to give up my job without an MBA programme to go to? Why hadn't I worked overseas? How confident am I, on a scale of 1 to 10? I felt like I'd made a whole series of bad decisions in life. I could tell nothing from her body language or responses as to whether she liked what I had to say.

Straight out and into 30 minutes to prepare a presentation. The topic: you've been given a new mobile telecoms licence. What would be the first services offered? How would you work out your market penetration? Who would your customers be? What is the price structure? What is the cost structure? 3 or 4 slides on overhead projector.
Then into the presentation. 5 minutes max followed by questions. And out of nowhere 3 minutes to think about and give an answer to "what would be the headline and article of your life story?". Thanks for that.

A short break to share the pain with a couple of the other candidates. Then a short interview with one of the admissions officers. This one much more straightforward. What other schools had I applied to? What offers? How did I feel the GMAT had gone? etc

Then lunch in the restaurant, outside on the terrace. Beautiful. A full buffet with a fantastic desert table and an icecream stand. This comes free to the students every day. So they don't waste time off-campus fetching lunch.

Finally, the case study discussion with one of the long-standing professors. Four candidates discussing the 17 pages of material we'd been emailed a few days before. This was less painful. Actually enjoyable, even.

There was supposed to be a fifth candidate. He'd booked on to the last easyJet flight the night before and it was cancelled. He didn't make it to Lausanne until we were already in the discussion.

At the end of the day, we needed to go and have a beer.

I tried to get an earlier flight home. I'd booked the last flight back to London since I didn't know what time the day would finish. The woman at the ticket sales desk told me I'd bought the cheapest ticket and couldn't change. I said I understood but since there were seats free, there would be no loss to British Airways. Well, she said, they might sell them in the intervening period. Theoretically possible, although the flight was due to depart in an hour. So I checked in and decided to go to the gate and see if I could get on just before the plane takes off.

Well, all flights to London were delayed about an hour. I sat and watched Argentina get cheated out of the semi-final. Then went to the gate. First response: no seats. I told the guy I knew there were seats. So the girl says yes, there are, but she'd have to check my ticket type. Once again I'm told I can't get on. I tell her the seats will go empty. She tells me I'd need to buy a new ticket. There was no point reasoning.

I didn't know whether to be annoyed with British Airways or with the Swiss mentality of order and precision. I went to find some food but it was all sold out. So I sat grumpily awaiting my delayed flight, which was full to the rafters. Perhaps, if I'd gone on the earlier flight, there'd have been a spare seat on the last one to sell to someone else...