After passing the “pre-screen” process, I scheduled my Fuqua interview with the Admissions group. At the time, I wasn’t sure if scheduling my interview before completing my application would put me at a disadvantage, but the timing definitely worked in my favor.
It was approximately late October/early November when I had my first contact with the Fuqua admissions office. I had already missed the September 15th application date, and with the next deadline December 1st, I decided to schedule the first available date for my interview. I knew that I needed to apply sooner rather than later for the best shot at acceptance, and waiting until I was done my application would be cutting it too close to December 1st.
My interview was Friday, November 14th, 2008 in Durham. I chose to do an in-person interview, rather than a phone conversation, knowing that a severe weakness of mine is talking on the phone. It was an unseasonably cold day in Durham, which gave me an excellent starter conversation with my interviewer Cynthia.
The interview started off with a review of my resume, with Cynthia asking me to summarize my professional development and career. I really appreciated the free-form nature of the question, which allowed me to flesh-out why I wasn’t just another “quant guy”, and what made me different from other applicants. I spent 20-30 minutes talking about my experiences in statistical modeling and how I applied those models in business. At the end of this part of the interview I knew I sufficiently differentiated myself as a problem-solver and strategic thinker, rather than just a math geek.
The second part of the interview, ‘Why I wanted to attend Duke?’, worried me as I knew it would be considerably more difficult to differentiate myself from the rest of the applicants. Little did I know that a passing comment at the start of this second question would end up defining my interview, and my entire application.