Have you ever gotten nervous before an important interview because you didn’t know how you’d respond to a curveball question you thought the interviewer might ask? I have. Well, even if you weren’t nervous beforehand, have you ever been asked a curveball question during an interview and stumbled as you tried to come up with a response? We’ve all been in that situation too. In most cases, it not only pays to think about as many of those questions as possible before an interview but also to figure out strategies to discuss your strengths and weaknesses before the interview ever begins.
That’s because getting nervous in interviews and sometimes stumbling over difficult questions is perfectly normal. And it’s also something that happens to the best of us. After all, you’ve been putting in hours of hard work applying to business school, and getting an interview question that throws you off your game and interferes with your chances of winning admission to the school of your dreams is risky.
In interviews, I like to take the approach of Sun Tzu’s The Art of War, where the Master Sun says that “every battle is won before it is ever fought. In a recent question, a reader of my site is doing just that, and he/she sent me an email about the possibility of a question during his/her Kellogg interview. Specifically, the reader asked about his/her chances of being questioned on their GMAT and LSAT scores during the interview.
See below for the original email, and below that for my response. As always, I’ll state up front that I’m not currently a member of the admissions committee, so despite my experience with interviews and applications, my response holds no formal authority.
I hope this e-mail finds you well and that your year at Kellogg is off to a great start.
I have a quick question for you regarding the NU/Kellogg admissions process. (XYZ) is applying to the Northwestern JD/MBA program and is wondering whether he/she will be asked about his/her LSAT score during the interview. For context, his/her LSAT score is (x) and his GMAT score and GPA are (x). In your experience, does the LSAT (or GMAT) score come up during the admissions interview?
Thanks in advance for any insight you might be able to provide.
Nice to hear form you and what a great question! But before I answer, I’ll state up front that I’m not a member of the admissions committee, so my response holds no formal authority. But otherwise, I’ll give you a few facts and then also provide you with a basic framework on how to think about this question (in three ways) in the context of your interview. Also, I’ll plan to keep my email short/quick in the essence of time, but feel free to respond directly if you want or need more information.
1. Conceptually, the most important thing to keep in mind is that you applied to the JD-MBA program, not only to Kellogg or only to the Law School. As such, the possibility of being asked questions about either school are not out of the realm of possibility. That means questions related to Kellogg admissions, such as GMAT score, leadership experience, and management experiences are all “fair game”, so (XYZ) should be ready to discuss those to the extent they’re relevant to his/her background. Similarly, questions related to law school admissions, such as grade history, LSAT score, and writing and reasoning ability are also “fair game” so he/she may want to prepare answers for those questions as well.
2. From a program perspective, the JD-MBA program is run through Kellogg, not through the law school. As a result, the admissions process is also run through Kellogg, and the application and interview processes for JD-MBAs resembles that of Kellogg. So every year, JD-MBAs apply in the Kellogg MBA application system, which means they interview with admissions committee members or with Kellogg alumni in hopes to gain acceptance. While those Kellogg alum could be JD-MBAs, it’s not a prerequisite.
For JD-MBA applicants, this tends to mean two things. First, it means that some interviewers may be less very familiar with the JD-MBA program, so applicants have to navigate that part of the interview accordingly. Sometimes that could imply really explaining the program to the interviewees in more depth and at other times, it could mean spending less time doing that, depending on the context. But second, it also means that because (name) is applying to business school (i.e. Kellogg) getting questioned more like an MBA student still might not preclude law school questions, where the interviewer may want to know the “why did he/she apply to the JD-MBA program” question, rather than to Kellogg alone. And in that scenario, any subset of law school questions could arise.
3. Broadly speaking, I’d suggest thinking about this like any other interview. First, think about what’s important in an MBA interview (versus an application itself), including, but not limited to, experiential questions, academic questions, and leadership questions. Next, consider the odds of receiving any given question, related to business and law, in a 45 minute interview where time and information are limited and where the interviewer wants to surface only the most important information. Next, given those odds, think about the tradeoffs of preparing for any given question, which not only includes the LSAT and the GMAT, but also community service, leadership, and work experiences. And finally, think about that in context of the bigger picture, and think about what is most important to get across in the interview – holes in the application, glaring strengths, information not on the application and fit – and be sure to prepare to discuss those as well.
In my own experience, I didn’t get the LSAT question, and odds are that (name) won’t get the question either. On the other hand, like anything else, there are never any guarantees, and if the interviewer is a JD-MBA (knows program), admissions committee member (knows Kellogg well), or an MBA who knows about the program, they could always decide to probe on anything. Similarly, given it’s a Kellogg interview, the “why” questions could become important and so any array of law school questions should probably be considered fair game, so it might make sense to think about a response just in case.
Personally, I was ready for just about every question the interviewer could have possibly asked. And that was the case not only for my Kellogg interview but for all my interviews at every school, because I wanted to be sure that I could discuss any point eloquently and thoughtfully. But in my case, that makes sense. After all, I am currently in law school which trains students to become lawyers.
I hope this helps.