Analyzing the Applications: the Yale SOM Video Interview

By Kyle Watkins (last updated: August 8, 2014)

This year, the Yale School of Management will once again require all its MBA applicants to participate in a video interview as part of the 2014/2015 application process. The rationale, according to Admissions Director Bruce DelMonico who introduced video essays in 2013, is that, “one-on-one interviews, while important, do not do the best job of gauging an applicant’s ability to think on his feet. Responses are polished, and one interviewer’s impressions may not be shared by everyone on the admissions team. Video responses can be compared with those of other applicants and reviewed by multiple team members. Since the questions are not known in advance, responses can’t be scripted.”

While being videotaped may initially make a few applicants anxious, I’d encourage you to rest easy. In fact, I think this could make the application process a little easier. To understand why, read on for more of this edition of our Analyzing the Applications series…

The real innovation of this approach, which supplements the traditional interview process rather than replace it, is the ability to compare applicants more directly. DelMonico was exactly right in thinking that having only one interviewer judge an applicant is suboptimal to having multiple do so. It also means, as an applicant, that it’s less likely you will get dinged for simply not connecting personally with your interviewer, since you’ll likely connect with at least one of the people that watches your video “essay”.

But where I diverge from DelMonico — and why I think applicants should view this piece of the application as easier than an in-person interview — is when he says that one-on-one interviews “do not do the best job of gauging an applicant’s ability to think on his feet.” In fact, one-on-one interviews test exactly that, not only by forcing applicants to answer questions immediately after they are asked, but also by forcing them to string together a coherent story and speak in a conversational manner across an entire interview period. In contrast to that, Yale’s 3 videotaped questions will allow applicants 20 seconds to compose an answer before the camera starts recording for up to 60 seconds. If anything, this should make applicants’ responses more polished, not less. And the questions themselves are not very different than questions you would be asked in an interview.

So, in preparing for Yale SOM’s application this year, relish the time you have to compose your answer. Practice having those 20 seconds when you are preparing for your videotaped question.

Feeling that you are ready to apply? Please contact us if you are interested in finding out more about our video interview preparation service. We intend to use the same technology as Yale, so you’ll get to practice in excellent conditions.

Finally, why not try our MBA matching algorithm and get an assessment of your profile within a couple of minutes? Or feel free to reach out to us to request a free consultation. We’d love to help.

We’ll be staying on top of all the application innovations this cycle, so stay tuned to our Analyzing the Applications series in the coming weeks and months….

PS: here are Yale’s instructions regarding the video interview as of August 1 2014:
“As part of your application, you will be asked to answer three video questions. These questions are intended to give you another opportunity to tell us about yourself. These questions are not meant to be difficult and should not require extensive preparation or special knowledge to answer. After hearing each video question, you will have 20 seconds to formulate a response, followed by up to 60 seconds to respond.

After August 15th, you will see a link in your applicant status page checklist that will allow you to complete the video questions once you have submitted your application and fee. To answer the questions, you simply need an internet connection and a webcam. These questions will take roughly 15 minutes to complete, and you will have the opportunity to test your connection and respond to a sample question before answering the questions. Once you have completed the questions, your responses will be added to your application and we will begin the review process. “

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