Thursday, August 17, 2017

What to Do When Your Credit Card Issuer Blindsides You

Free-Money Offers Can Be Alluring, but Watch for Snags

5 Things Your Credit Reports Won’t Reveal

The Art of Interviewing—Are You a “Can” or a “Cannot”?

The Art Of Interviewing

Find out how an admissions expert can help you prepare to ace your interview!

“I am doomed…. This is a disaster….I really never expected this… What am I going to do?” This from Daniel, a prospective PH.D student.  I couldn’t imagine what had happened to cause such a negative response, especially as Daniel is a very strong candidate with impeccable credentials. My shock was further compounded when he went on to tell me that he had been invited to sit for an interview. Okay, now I was completely confused especially in light of the fact that this type of invitation is usually cause for celebration. It means that the academic committee is giving serious consideration to your application and wants to know more about you. I couldn’t help but ask, “And this is a disaster because? What am I missing here? Talk to me!”

Wow! The floodgates opened. He said, “You don’t understand… You don’t get it! I am no good at interviews. In fact I “choke” even on simple job interviews. This is not good. I thought I could bypass this requirement. Now what do I do?” I told him that I could teach him how to master the art of interviewing. He dismissed my offer by saying, “You can’t teach someone interviewing skills. It is something you can do or cannot. I am one of the cannots.” I shocked him into silence when I informed him gently and respectfully that I actually teach the art of interviewing in my Introduction to Communication class. I said, “I can take you from a “cannot” to a “can.” I promised to develop an Interview Preparation plan for him and we scheduled a follow-up meeting.

I decided to “borrow” some of the interview techniques I use in the communication classes that I teach and in the professional workshops that I offer. I was planning to use the “Three Plus One Strategy,” as I have coined it, involved in the Art of Interviewing.

At our next meeting I told Daniel that I had developed a “Three Plus One Strategy” that would thoroughly prepare him for the PH.D interview(s).  The “Three Plus One” is composed of: The Pre-Interview Stage, the Interview Stage, the Post-Interview Stage and the Plus One which is the Mock/Practice Interview Stage. The plan includes review and discussion of the bulleted items in each of the first three stages and then application of lessons learned in the Mock Interview stage. Upon completion of the Mock Interview, Daniel would receive verbal feedback as well as a comprehensive written assessment of his performance.  

Here’s how we did it:

STAGE 1 — Pre-Interview

• Research all of web pages and any readily available print materials related to the University, Program, and faculty. You need to be prepared, during the interview, to show your full knowledge of the special features offered: size of University and your program, national and/or international rankings, accreditations, TA offerings, scholarships, interdisciplinary opportunities, faculty research, scholarly conferences and publications etc. You may want to reference some of this when you are answering interview questions. Remember you should avoid asking questions that might reveal to the committee that you did not take the time and effort to appropriately research the materials available.

• Compile a list/script of questions that you believe may be asked during the interview and create talking points for your answers. However do not write out the answers word for word as you want to sound spontaneous and natural rather than scripted and memorized.

• Carefully consider what you wear to the interview. How we package ourselves impacts how we are perceived by others and effects how we feel about ourselves. Choose attire that empowers and emphasizes your confidence and credibility. This may vary depending on the program for which you are being interviewed.  For example, for business programs you may choose to look “corporate” and for MFA programs you may choose attire that represents your creative and artistic nature.  

• Conduct a real or virtual dry run in terms of travel to the interview. If possible allow for traffic and other delays by planning to arrive, at least, ½ hour earlier than scheduled.  This will allow you time to get a feel for the campus and, perhaps, even reference it during your interview. It may also serve as an additional talking point or question.  

• Practice some positive self-talk and visualization which you can then re-visit before the actual interview begins.

• Practice some deep diaphragmatic breathing and muscle relaxing exercises to use before the start of the interview. Deep cleansing breaths really work.

• Although you may not be asked for it, bring multiple copies of your CV/resume in case they are requested by committee members.

• Review the Statement of Purpose that you submitted with your application to this school in case you are questioned on part or parts of it by individual committee members. You may even choose to reference and/or update something that you included in your Statement.

• Make sure that you perceive this experience as a wonderful opportunity to present yourself in person rather than an obstacle or challenge. A positive mindset is critical to your success.

Stage 2 — The Interview

• Keep in mind that the evaluation of you as a candidate begins the minute you step on campus. You would probably be surprised by how often I have heard members of the academic committee question the department secretary, receptionist and/or current students to get a completely different perspective on a particular candidate.  This is a very common practice in job interviews as well.

• Before you enter the interview area use some power-inducing nonverbal gestures to increase your confidence level. I suggest you visit and view Amy Cuddy’s video on the power of nonverbal. 

• Avoid one word answers even if the interviewer uses a close-ended question. Utilize the techniques of behavioral interviewing by providing specific examples or short narratives to exhibit your strengths. For example: if you are asked if you consider yourself a thorough researcher, you shouldn’t just say “yes,” but refer to what you have accomplished that clearly exhibits how thorough a researcher you are. Telling stories may well set you apart from other candidates and make you far more memorable.

• Effective eye contact is critical in interviewing. If you are being interviewed by committee make sure that you make eye contact with each and every committee member. Eye contact will positively reinforce your passion, sincerity and willingness to engage in academic discourse.

• Monitor your posture and movement. Sit up straight and lean in ever so slightly as this will exhibit that you are fully engaged and deeply interested in the interview.

• Avoid wringing your hands, tapping your feet, or crossing and uncrossing your legs. This will draw negative attention to your actions rather than to all of the wonderful things you would like to share.

• Speak at a moderate rate and volume. The last thing you want is to make the interviewer uncomfortable with either a “too loud” voice, a “whisper soft voice,” or a “rapid fire” rate of speech.”  Make every attempt to minimize anything that might disturb or distort the message.

• It is more than okay to share your passion for the field of study and smile when appropriate. A pleasant manner and engaging personality always make a candidate more memorable.  

Ask thought-provoking questions based on your research interests and the program offerings. Never ask a question that has an answer that is readily available online. It will send a very negative message (see note in The Pre-Interview Stage, bullet #1). However, you can use the information from your web research as a point of departure. For Example—“I noted on your webpage that you host several professional conferences on campus. Are graduate students encouraged to participate and/or present papers? If so, I would love to be involved. I participated in _______ conference as an undergraduate and it was a valuable experience.”  

• Speak in your own voice, from your hea

rt—your sincerity, honesty, and authenticity will shine through.

Stage 3 — Post-Interview

• Make sure that you write the names and contact information for each interviewer for follow-up thank-you notes.  

• Personalize each note so that it is clear that you really remember the interviewer by referencing something specific from the interview. Interviewers often compare notes so it wouldn’t serve you to write the exact same note to each interviewer. Make it personal. For example — “I really enjoyed our conversation about________ .” 

• Conduct a thorough self-assessment of your performance on the interview. Ask yourself specific questions and offer yourself constructive criticism, positive feedback and suggestions for future interviews. Questions might include: What did I do well? How did I handle challenging questions? Which responses appeared to be received most positively? Why? What made those answers stand out over all others? In what way or ways might I improve? Be honest but don’t “beat yourself up.” Learn from the experience. On a personal note—even after over 30 years as a public speaker and professor of public speaking I still, after every speech, evaluate and take notes for improvement on my next speech.  

Plus One — The Mock Interview

After Daniel and I worked through each of the first 3 stages, I strongly suggested that he prepare to be interviewed by me. He was a little nervous but also very excited to try out many of the strategies and techniques that we had reviewed. We scheduled the mock interview for the following week so that he could fully prepare himself. I was pleased that “Mr. Cannot” was slowly turning into “Mr. Can.”  

I interviewed Daniel for about 1 hour. It was just okay at the start.  He appeared a little uncomfortable and somewhat anxious. It changed dramatically as soon as Daniel began to implement some of the techniques that we covered in the “Three Plus One Plan.” From that point on his confidence level increased—he sat up straight, made wonderful eye contact, and even shared a memorable story about one of his research experiences. It was engaging, humorous, and spotlighted his passion for the field.

Wow what a difference! My positive response to the story further encouraged him. His guard came down, and as such, he delivered an excellent interview. I even asked him a closed ended question to see how he would handle it. His answer was to tell me a story that was not only interesting but showed me who he was. He also posed some exceptionally thoughtful questions about research opportunities with individual faculty members. When we were done he asked me how he did. I threw it right back at him, “How do you think you did?”

He laughed out loud and said, “It’s a first. I actually enjoyed the interview. Who knew that with the right preparation and mind set I could become one of the “cans”? I told him that I would follow-up with a comprehensive written review which would include a few constructive suggestions for him. He promised to compare it with his self-assessment. He thanked me and said that he was now looking forward to his “real” interview and that he would stay in touch.  

I imagine you might like to know what happened on the “real” interview. Daniel probably said it best—“Disaster averted. Huge success.”  

The best way to feel confident going into your interview is to be absolutely sure you’ve taken the right steps to prepare. A mock interview and feedback from an Accepted admissions expert can help you put your best foot forward on the day of your interview. Contact us today!

Prepare for your interview with an admissions expert!

Carol DrummerBy Carol Drummer, Former Hofstra University Dean of Graduate Admissions, who for 10 years reviewed and signed off on over 4500 admissions decisions per year and has taught communications and rhetoric since 1991. Want Carol's help to get you accepted? Click here to get in touch! 


Related Resources:

• The Ultimate Guide to Medical School Interview Success
• Perfect Answers to MBA Interview Questions
• Prepare for Interviews with Positive Imagery

The post The Art of Interviewing—Are You a “Can” or a “Cannot”? appeared first on Accepted Admissions Blog.

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Dartmouth Tuck MBA Essay Tips & Deadlines

Top MBA Essay Questions and How to Answer them Right!

The Dartmouth Tuck adcom is interested in learning about what you as an individual, a businessperson, and a leader can contribute to Tuck’s small, close-knit program. Use your essays as a platform for expressing your earnest desire to enter the world of management and to make a difference and to be a part of the Tuck community.  

Before drafting your Tuck essays, please review Tuck’s Evaluation Criteria

Regarding changes in this year’s in comparison to last year’s essays, Tuck changed its Essay #1 slightly and its Essay #2 significantly.  

Accepted has been helping applicants to Tuck gain acceptance for roughly 20 years. Explore our services to learn more about how we can help you prepare your Tuck MBA application. 


Please respond fully but concisely to the following essay questions. There are no right or wrong answers. We encourage applicants to limit the length of their responses to a word count of 500. Please double-space your responses.

Essay 1. (Required)

What are your short and long-term goals? Why is an MBA a critical next step toward achieving those goals? Why are you interested in Tuck?

This is a classic, straight-forward goals question.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: The MBA is a means to an end, not an end in itself. That’s why Tuck (and many other schools) ask question like this one. Tuck wants to know that it can help you achieve your goal. So clearly you have to have both short- and long-term goals to respond to the question.  

You also have to be able to show the qualities of a wise leader with the potential for global impact. When have you shown the maturity to lead and influence in a way that improved either your company or some other entity that you were a part of?  How did that experience influence your short- and long-term goals or show that you have the ability to achieve those goals?  What is the benefit to society if you achieve what you want to achieve?

One possible approach to the essay: Start this essay with a brief anecdote about an accomplishment that reflects at least some of the qualities Tuck seeks and also influenced the development of your goals. Then discuss your goals and the path you intend to take and the hoped for impact of your realizing those dreams. The path should include the aspects of Tuck’s program that attract you to Hanover and will help you accomplish your goals.

Essay 2. (Required)

Tuck’s mission is to educate wise leaders to better the world of business. Wisdom encompasses the essential aptitudes of confident humility, about what one does and does not know; empathy, towards the diverse ideas and experiences of others; and judgement, about when and how to take risks for the better.

With Tuck’s mission in mind, and with a focus on confident humility, tell us about a time you:

• received tough feedback,
• experienced failure, or
• disappointed yourself or others.

How did you respond, and what did you learn about yourself as a result?

Unlike Essay 1, which focuses on the future and the hypothetical, this question is about one experience in the past.  It is not hypothetical at all. It also requires you to choose one incident and discuss how you responded to a difficulty, a challenge, or a disappointment where you were the central figure.  When did you really blow it?

A CAR approach will work well here:


Keep it specific and concrete or you will blend in with others writing in generalities. Your response to this trying experience and lessons learned from it are the key.  How did you respond? grow? improve? If you can conclude with another later and similar situation when you used the lessons learned in the first experience and handled it with aplomb while demonstrating the wisdom Tuck is looking for, you’ll be acing this question. 

Essay 3. (Optional)

Please provide any additional insight or information that you have not addressed elsewhere that may be helpful in reviewing your application (e.g., unusual choice of evaluators, weaknesses in academic performance, unexplained job gaps or changes, etc.). Complete this question only if you feel your candidacy is not fully represented by this application.

It is almost impossible for two (or even three) 500-word essays plus a bunch of boxes, a transcript, and a GMAT/GRE score to represent fully the uniqueness and talents of a truly impressive candidate. That comment has nothing to do with writing style and everything to do with the complexity of accomplished human beings. In my opinion this “optional essay”  is optional in name only.

At the same time, don’t waste the reader’s time by writing a meaningless, superficial “grand finale” or summary. Don’t repeat what can be found elsewhere. Let this essay add value to the reader’s understanding of you and your candidacy.

Essay 4. (To be completed by all reapplicants)

How have you strengthened your candidacy since you last applied? Please reflect on how you have grown personally and professionally.

Straightforward MBA reapplication question. It is critical that every reapplicant be able to answer it for every school they are reapplying to: What has changed that would compel Tuck to admit you this year?

If you would like professional guidance with your Dartmouth Tuck MBA application, check out Accepted’s MBA essay editing and MBA admissions consulting or our MBA Application Packages, which include advising, editing, interview coaching, and a resume edit for the Dartmouth Tuck application. 

Dartmouth Tuck 2017-18 Application Deadlines:

Check out more school-specific MBA essay tips!

***Disclaimer: Information is subject to change. Please check with individual programs to verify the essay questions, instructions and deadlines.***

Top MBA Program Essay Questions: How to Answer them right!

ByLinda Abraham Linda Abraham, president and founder of Accepted and co-author of the definitive book on MBA admissions, MBA Admission for Smarties: The No-Nonsense Guide to Acceptance at Top Business Schools.

Related Resources:

• Building Your Consulting Career, and a Look Back at a Tuck MBA, podcast episode
Talking with a Military Tuckie
• Why MBA?, a guide to writing about your MBA goals

The post Dartmouth Tuck MBA Essay Tips & Deadlines appeared first on Accepted Admissions Blog.

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How to Stop Being the Family ATM

3 Must-Knows When You’re Looking for an Admissions Consultant for Your Child

Download the Free Guide Here to Learn How to Apply to an Ivy League School with a Common Application!

The college planning process can be stressful for both parents and children. As a parent, you’re balancing your children’s goals and your family’s needs – while still handling all your other commitments.

If it’s your first time navigating the college application system, it’s also easy to feel overwhelmed. Maybe you’re also feeling discouraged by the sheer number of students that high school guidance counselors are asked to assist and are worried that your child won’t get the attention they deserve. If your child is applying to colleges in the United States from abroad, and you have little experience with the American higher education environment, the system may make you feel lost or intimidated. Finally you may feel that with all the tension of the teen years, not to mention the application process, you and your child may be better off if an expert third party provides adult and experienced guidance. In all of these situations, your child would benefit from working with an independent admissions consultant.

What should you look for in an admissions consultant for your child?

1. Find a consultant who fits both your needs and your child’s style.

You and your child are going to work closely with this person, whether for a few weeks or a year or longer, so it is important that you are both comfortable with the relationship.

Here are some important questions to ask when looking for “the one”:

• Is the consultant open to working with both applicants and parents, while understanding that the applicant is the primary contact and client?

• Do you both feel comfortable asking the consultant questions?

• If you and/or your child prefer face-to-face meetings, is that an option? If you prefer email/Skype only – is that an option? Are phone calls allowed?

You might find the right independent admissions counselor for your family in your neighborhood, in a different state, or on the other side of the globe. For many people, it doesn’t matter where the consultant lives, just so long as s/he “clicks” with you and with your child.

2. The consultant you choose should have broad background knowledge and a commitment to continuing education about the college admissions process.

Yes, your next-door neighbor single-handedly walked her son through the admissions process – and he got into Yale. She might have interesting insights to share, but a professional consultant has worked with many families with different admissions profiles.

Good admissions consultants don’t only work with students, but spend additional time reading, researching schools and programs, networking with colleagues, and visiting colleges. Several professional organizations, including the Higher Education Consultants Association (HECA), the Independent Educational Consultants Association (IECA), and the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) require their members to maintain a commitment to continuing education and professional development. Look for a consultant who demonstrates such a commitment.

3. Beware of guarantees.

An admissions consultant who “guarantees” acceptance to a specific college, or promises “scholarship money,” or agrees to write your child’s essays isn’t practicing ethical college counseling. Run the other way. Fast.

Here’s how Accepted consultants view their role in the application process: As an applicant, your child must present himself/herself in the best possible light throughout the college admissions process. We are there to help you and your child identify options you might not have considered, help your child represent herself at her very best, and balance all of the moving parts of your child’s senior year. Our consultants won’t write your child’s application essays, but they’ll act as a sounding board and help your son or daughter identify his/her voice and hone an impressive, authentic message.

They’ll provide a seasoned, calm voice that will guide you and your child through the admissions process while enhancing your child’s chances of acceptance. And since they don’t work with throngs of students at once, they’ll be able to answer the questions that your child’s high school counselor may not have the time to address.

By working with an Accepted consultant, your child will apply confidently and navigate the application process with less stress.

No matter where your family is in the admissions process, we’re ready to help you.

View our catalog of college admission services!

Accepted | Helping applicants like you apply confidently and successfully for over 20 years. <<Get Accepted!>>


Related Resources:

Preparing for College in High School: A To-Do list for 11th Graders, a free guide
What to Do in Your Senior Year to Enhance Your Chances of a College Acceptance
Tips For Answering Common Application Essay Prompts

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