“What impresses me the most about Fuqua is the statement about the Honor Code, front and center on the website”
With this statement, I nailed my interview. By accident.
Now, it’s not that I don’t believe in honorable behavior (I do, quite forcefully), or that I was just saying that to brown nose Cynthia that I’d studied the website. The morning of the interview, I watched Squawk Box on CNBC the morning of the interview, along with reviewing several printouts from the Fuqua website (one of which being the Honor Code). These two events unconsciously set my course.
I don’t remember exactly who was on Squawk Box, but I couldn’t stop thinking ‘(whomever CEO) is lying right to the interviewer’s face’. Given my interview was in mid-November, right around the time when the economy was really taking a dive, I’m sure that if you asked that same CEO today if he still believes the statements in the interview, you’d get an answer of ‘it’s complicated’. But I digress.
So not having a great answer to ‘Why do you want to go to Duke’, I started by talking about the Honor Code. When Cynthia broke my thought with ‘I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone say that’, I knew I struck gold, but now I needed to actually flesh this out. But given my line of work (credit cards), I had plenty of material to work with.
When people ask what I do for a living, I’ve often made the joke that ‘I work in the second-lowest form of consumer lending’. Credit cards are one of those products that everyone likes, until they have a reason to hate them. And I fully admit, there are plenty of reasons to hate Credit Card companies. There are often gray areas that as a marketer I’m forced to play in to keep my job, but at the same time, the law is the law (regardless of the ethics), and people flock to the banks thinking they are ‘pulling one over’ on us until we catch them slipping. But again, I digress.
So in talking about Honor and Ethics, I referenced the CNBC interview I had watched that morning, my experience in the Credit Card industry, and how I saw other business schools position themselves on Ethics relative to Fuqua. At other schools, Ethics seem to just now have become important; at Fuqua (and Duke in general), the Honor Code was in place before it became fashionable. And of course, the ethical issues of the Credit Card industry are well known, so I didn’t struggle for examples.
And that was it. In what was to be the hardest part of my interview, I lucked my way into the best answer I could’ve given. I wanted to go to Duke because the focus on Honor and Ethics would be at the forefront of my studies, and by extension would define my professional career going forward.