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Nathaniel Chan

Degree:

MBA

Location:

Canada

Industry:

Municipal Government

Year:

2016-17

By Nathaniel Chan

The Interview: A Potentially Life-Changing Conversation

Nate Chan blog post 3 1

During the final days of October last fall, I received an e-mail from my Oxford Saïd Admissions Adviser that I had been selected for interview.  Needless to say, I was quite ecstatic to know that I had made it this far and with only one final hurdle to overcome before getting into the MBA program of my dreams.  In the message, I was offered an in-person interview on the following Friday in my current city – Toronto, Canada.  As luck would have it, the business school’s recruitment representatives were in town for an information session that week and so I was quite fortunate (at least, financially) to not have to fly across the pond on my own dime for an unsure thing.  Skype interviews are also offered as an alternative, but where possible, I have always preferred to connect with others through in-person conversations, more so than via video chats.  Therefore, this was a golden opportunity for me that really couldn’t have been any more convenient or risk-free and so within minutes, I quickly replied to that e-mail (which became an instant favourite, both in my heart and on my browser) to accept the interview offer!

Now at first, I truly had no idea what to expect for the interview.  All I knew was that all elite MBA programs required one and that Oxbridge conducts entrance interviews for all its programs, even at the undergraduate level.  I was aware of the second point only because of the movie scene in the Amazing Spider-Man 2, where Gwen Stacey (played by Emma Stone) was depicted having her last admissions interview in New York.  Thankfully in my case, there would only be one interview necessary and if I were to be admitted, nor would I have to endure an emotional break up with a superhero global celebrity before leaving to become an Oxonian.

Gwen Stacey (played by Emma Stone) at the setting for her final Oxford interview in The Amazing Spider-Man 2.  Note the Green Templeton College banner in the background! This will by my college and it only accepts graduate students, so perhaps the movie writers and set decorators should have done better research.

Gwen Stacey (played by Emma Stone) at the setting for her final Oxford interview in The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Note the Green Templeton College banner in the background! This will by my college and it only accepts graduate students, so perhaps the movie writers and set decorators should have done better research.

I should mention here though that the invitation e-mail I received was actually quite reassuring and made clear the fact that the interview would be more of a friendly conversation about personal fit, than say an oral examination or intense grilling.

It read the following:

“Being invited to interview means we believe you have the necessary ability to undertake a demanding and elite programme of study. Your interview is designed to establish whether you’ve chosen the right home and whether we are the right institution for you. We hope the conversation will be a stimulating experience that gives you a deeper sense of our vision for business education in the twenty-first century.

We recognise that there are many MBA programmes around the world and that it’s important to choose the one best for you, just as it’s important for us to select students who will benefit most from the Oxford experience. We set great store by interviews and hope to have an engaged, wide-ranging and thoughtful conversation with you. Our interviews are not designed to test what you do not know but, to explore how you think and express yourself.”

Quite comforting, eh?  Could the last obstacle before being admitted into a world-class MBA program at a world-renowned university really be that painless?  Must be an admissions committee ploy to catch us off guard, right?

Well, I can tell you that my interview went exactly as they described.  The best way to characterize it would be a dialogue about my motivations, inspirations and aspirations.  It was an opportunity to succinctly recount my personal history and explain how an Oxford MBA could equip me with the skills to help write a better future for not just myself, but the world around me.  The chat was one-on-one and took place in a hotel conference room with honestly one of the most distinguished yet friendliest interviewers I’ve ever had.  I had read somewhere online that once you get to the interview stage for most MBA programs, the ball is in your court and they are more or less meeting with you to see if you give them any reason not to accept you.  So think of it like a soccer match and you’re up one to nil coming out of halftime.  All you have to do to win is to not do (or say) anything stupid for just 45 30 minutes!  You’re playing with the lead, mate! Just need to keep your cool and avoid getting too rattled (a little nervousness is inevitable and expected).  If you allow yourself to live in the present and enjoy the moment (after all, it’s quite an accomplishment and privilege in itself to even be considered by Oxford), your interview should feel like a pleasure and the exciting opportunity you’ve always wanted to experience.  Who knows, that fateful half hour might just end up changing your life forever?

My Facebook post upon learning of my interview offer

My Facebook post upon learning of my interview offer

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  • Maximillian Pullen

    Thank you for your insight Nathaniel, and congratulations! I hope you’ll share more of your Oxford experiences, and look forward to joining you at the university in a year or two.

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