Evaluation Day @ Foster School of Business Evening MBA

I recently got chance to participate in Foster Evening MBA Evaluation Day exercise as part of my application to evening MBA.

It was a hectic 5 hours experience. I was bit nervous going in and not knowing what to expect. However admission officers Andy Chen and Tim Hossain were nice and did a good job at putting us a ease. However the day went fast. Once we started it was not all that difficult and was bit of fun too.

Here’s what happens in Evaluation Day:

  1. You need to introduce yourself
    • You will have upto 3 minutes for the task
    • You need to explain why you are a good candidate for UW Foster Evening MBA Program.
    • You can be creative and unique – (Though in my experience none was too creative)
    • Here are few ideas you can consider:
      • Who you are today, where you are in your career and who you hope to be in 3 years from now when you finish the Foster Evening MBA Program.
      • What do you bring to the program by way of your experiences in life and work.
      • Why would other candidates like to have you as a member of their class/team.
      • Name three things you are most proud of.
  2. Case Discussion
    • You will be given a case and a question for the case. As a group (group of 13-15) you will need to discuss the case and come up with top recommendation for evaluation committee.
  3. Team Consensus
    • Here you will be given a scenario like “Lost at a sea” or “Lost in a desert” along with few items you have at your disposal. Now as a group (smaller group of 6-7) you will need to discuss which of the items are most important and rank them in their importance order.

My Experience:

Everyone was bit tensed about the program. No one knew what to really expect as there is very little information UW provide in the evaluation day invitation list.  Also there is very little information available on internet as well.

I had known they will ask for introduction so I had prepared my 3 minutes speech, though I did not know how good it was. I had heard about case and scenario but did not know what the questions were and if there was a good or bad way to answer them.

So here I was on morning of evaluation day. Most people were wearing dark suits with tie , shirt and pants..aka business formal. There were  very few people were not in suits (as far as  I remember 2 guys and 2 girls. Guys were in pant and shirt and girls were in a-line party kind of dress with black small jacket on top: they were looking nice but not formal). And then there were few people who were not in dark suits (me being one of them…:-)..)…Since there were few of those I was not feeling very awkward.

Though one thing to note is none of admissions committee folks and judges were in suit. One of the ad com lady was in pant + shirt, guys were all in pant + shirt (no tie or suit). One of the judges was in khakis and t-shirt. So I imagine getting dressed in dark suit was not a must.

Moving on, next we had brief talk by chief admissions officer or someone like that (That officer was dressed in loose coat which was not looking great. Most of the candidates were better dressed than him. I was not at all impressed. I was hoping foster officers would try to maintain a standard especially at occasion like Evaluation day). After that were taken to our group rooms.

In the groups our first task was to give our introductions. Most people took approx 1 – 1.5 mins and talked about where they come from, why are they pursuing the MBA and some interesting facts.  After each candidate was done judges asked one question like how would you contribute to the MBA program, for me: how would you deal with candidate who is performing poorly in office, what are you most proud of etc etc. That took additional 30sec-1 min per person.

We were all finished in 30 mins. Then ad com gave her exercise to talk about what do we do for fun…just to keep us busy. We were done with that in also 15 mins…with 15 mins to go ad com asked us to just talk among ourselves…:-)

Then came the next exercise of going through a case. We were given 10 mins to read the case (posted scanned copy below). Then as a group we discussed some of the solutions, group had very varied ideas. Key was could you build some support for your ideas. One person realized we were just discussing and not converging so he went to board and picked up the marker and started writing ideas coming up. Guy at the board was good..but he was not able to follow every ones rambling. I tried to lead team to capture the key essence of the ideas and told him what to jot down…thus tried to play bit of leadership role their.  Eventually we captured some ideas and tried to convert them to a proposal and presented them.

Then case discussion of scenario (Lost at sea for us). They explicitly asked us avoid majority voting to build consensus.  I think what they were looking for was how well are you able to frame your arguments and convince others and how well are you able to get convinced by others if their arguments have merits.

Tips:

  • Introductions:
    • If you prepare your introduction well then everything else is really not very difficult.
    • For introduction talk about your strong points and sell yourself.
    • Everyone in my group only took 1-2 min..so I automatically shortened my intro as well. Dont do that mistake, use full 3 minutes.
  • For case studies:
    • Focus on key question at the end and lead team towards solution for that problem.
    • Contribute to discussion.
    • Play leadership role by keeping notes, finding essence of people’s ideas or anything.
  • For Scenario:
    • Try to successfully convince some people of your ranking of an item.
    • Reason with people about their ideas well.
    • If possible become lead to keep notes of other ideas and come up with strategy to come up with group decision.

 Final Thoughts

I think evaluation day is way to judge your skills and to weed out those that are egregiously bad. For majority, its just one of the inputs to the whole MBA application. Dont sweat about this a lot, prepare a bit and you will do just fine.

Here are posts with scanned sheets of questions and answers we got as part of this evaluation day. I hope this makes life easier for future candidates.

 

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