Advice for Getting Over MBA Admission Essay Angst and Interview Anxiety



Those of you applying in Round 2 are probably in the throes of writing essays – pondering (perhaps agonizing over) what to write about, how to say it well, and how to do it while working full-time and trying to have the semblance of a life.

I recently had a similar experience.

If you’ve ever bought a house in a competitive market, you may know that your “story” can make a difference in whether your offer is accepted. So that’s what I decided to do – share my story with the seller through a letter (ok, it was an essay).

At first, I just stared at the blank page on the computer and thought, “What can I say that will be compelling? What will differentiate me from the others?” And then I just started typing. I shared stories about myself so they could get a sense of the kind of person I am, and the kind of life I might build in that house.

This is exactly what we hope to see in the essays we ask applicants to write for admission to Ross. We’re looking for a sense of you as a person through the stories you share about yourself. We want to be able to picture the kind of student you might be, before we’ve actually met you. It’s not about telling us a certain kind of story – the “hero” story or the “overcoming a challenge” story. It’s about being authentic, not trying to project the image of the perfect MBA candidate.

As you can imagine, we’ve read a lot of essays. The ones that stand out are the ones that are reflective and thoughtful. The stories are simply a vehicle for giving us a glimpse into how you think about things.


The thing that the team and I are most looking forward to this week is welcoming our first group of on-campus interviewees on Friday.

Whether you’re coming to campus or interviewing with one of our alums near you, here’s some advice on how to prepare:

  1. Know what’s on your resume and the “Why’s,” “How’s,” and “So what’s,” not just the “What’s”
  2. Know your answer to the question, “Why Ross?” That means knowing how Ross can help you achieve your goals and why it’s a good fit.
  3. Know what your career goals are. They could change after you get to b-school. But it’s important that you can articulate a vision during the interview since we no longer ask about your goals and why MBA in an essay.

I’ve just given you three of the main things that interviewers will be listening for. I talk a bit more about how to Ace the Michigan Ross MBA interview in the video below - be sure to check that out:

I hope these tips give you a better sense of how we think about things and what differentiates the great candidates from the good.