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Thread: Interview Experience: London Business School (Organisational Behaviour)

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    Interview Experience: London Business School (Organisational Behaviour)

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    I thought I'd write up a post about my experience interviewing onsite at LBS. I've gotten a lot of use out of this forum, so hopefully this report is useful for others. Warning: this might be a little long-winded...

    I received the interview invite by email less than two weeks before the scheduled onsite interview days. They do an onsite competitive interview: I initially thought that they'd probably accept most if not all candidates that they interviewed since they go to the expense of flying everyone out, but they explicitly told us at the beginning of the interview day that they could make up to 3 offers and there were 8 of us interviewing. It's a good sign that you were chosen for an interview, but you're still not out of the woods yet.

    They wanted us to be in London on Friday and Saturday, which meant that for most of the candidates, we arrived Thursday night and left Sunday during the day. You need to get the flights tentatively approved for cost reasons, but I think that's just to make sure you don't spend $5000 on flights. I was stupid and offered a connecting itinerary because it was cheaper than the nonstop, but you should really book a nonstop flight. It's already going to be a grueling couple of days, so do what you can to make your life easier. Also note that you book and pay for the flights yourself to be reimbursed later, so make sure you have access to a credit card. They said they'll reimburse flights and transportation and arrange accommodations, but you're on the hook for your own food while you're traveling.

    My first piece of advice is to start adjusting your sleep schedule as soon as you've gotten your flights confirmed. The interview schedule on Friday was from 8am to 6pm, and since I live on the west coast of the US, that's like interviewing from midnight to 10am. You will be grateful for any sleep that you can get Thursday night, so do everything that you can to try to get on London time. The week before my flight, I got up an hour earlier every day, so by the day of my flight, I was getting up at 4am Pacific time/noon GMT. Still not great, but it definitely helped me get a couple of hours of sleep Thursday night.

    Getting to LBS from Heathrow is easy, although Heathrow itself can be a nightmare. Just take the Heathrow Express to Paddington (good thing LBS is paying!), then cab or take the tube to Baker St (just three stops on Bakerloo). LBS is a short walk from Baker St, and the hotel that we were put up in was about 10 minutes from LBS. The hotel wasn't fancy, but it was comfortable, and breakfast was included. Make sure you bring snacks or buy food to store in your room when you arrive in case you wake up at 4am and can't fall asleep and you're starving.

    Friday morning started off with a meeting with the two professors running the admissions process. Just a casual chat, although it was somewhat stilted and awkward because all of us candidates were super nervous and tentative. There was plenty of food (and we were told beforehand that this could be breakfast), but all of us candidates had eaten already at the hotel (likely because we were all up from jetlag anyway). Although they were interviewing 8 people in total, only 6 of us were there in person. I'm not sure how not attending the interview days affects your chances, although given the short notice and the potentially long flight, I'm sure they understand if you can't make it (although you really should try if you're interested because this is also your visit weekend if you do get accepted).

    After the morning chat, we had a quick tour of the school. Then it's on to the interviews. I had 8 30-minute interviews, along with a couple of 30-minute breaks interspersed. You generally interview with anyone you listed in your statement of purpose, the PhD program manager, the professors managing the admissions process, as well as any professor that could be interested in you based on mutual research interests. I'll say that we didn't get our schedules until the day before, so it really wasn't possible to have read up about all of the professors we'd be meeting, but it probably is a good idea to know the research of whomever you listed in your statement (presumably you already did this research while you were writing your essays).

    I will say that everyone was really, really nice. People were easy to talk to, and they were constantly checking to make sure that I was okay and didn't need anything since they know it's an exhausting day and many people have traveled from far away. That being said, make sure that you speak up if you need water, need to use the bathroom, etc. It's important that you feel comfortable and not be distracted by trivial things.

    All of the questions were pretty typical. Example questions: Why a PhD? Why LBS? How did you arrive at your research interests? What methodologies are you interested in? What research questions do you want to pursue? How might you pursue them? What are your strengths? What are your weaknesses? How will you address your weaknesses? etc.

    For lunch, you eat with the faculty and grad students. This is a great chance to see how people in the department interact. I thought this was great, and I enjoyed talking with a lot of the professors. After lunch, we had a Q&A session with current grad students, and then more interviews after lunch. At the end of the day, we had a social gathering at the pub near the school. This was super casual and more just a chance to chat in small groups with people.

    All that was scheduled for Saturday was a brunch with the current grad students. I found this to be a good opportunity to really get a feel for what it's like to be a grad student at LBS, as you could chat with the grad students one-on-one (as opposed to the somewhat stilted format of the Q&A panel). It was also super casual and low-key. Then you have the rest of the day to yourself to explore London or meet up with people or do whatever.

    Overall, the experience was extremely positive. All of the professors seem super happy there, and it's a very collegial group. The department is also relatively young (i.e. lots of assistant professors), and it's a very social psych/micro OB-focused department. Some people are working on teams and social networks, but many professors are trained as social psychologists.

    I know that it can be challenging to relax (and I'm still not completely relaxed since I don't have any offers yet!), but interviews are a two-way street, and you need to see if the school is a good fit for you even though the school is evaluating you. I also realized during the weekend that these people (including the professors, grad students, and other interviewees) are going to be people that you see again and again in the future, potentially as colleagues, classmates, or collaborators. So even if you don't get an offer, it can still be a great opportunity to network and get to know other people for the future.

    Random thoughts that I'll put here at the end:
    1) All of the guys wore suits. The ladies had more leeway. If you're a guy, wear a suit.
    2) It can help to think about how your application looks to others, and then think about the natural questions that result when evaluating your application from this perspective. For example, I know that my background is somewhat unusual for OB, so I knew that I would have to have good answers about my motivation for applying. And lo and behold, nearly all of my interviewers spent significant time asking me about my motivation.
    3) Not sure if this helps the anxiety or not, but some of the things I've read have indicated that interview shortlists are pre-ranked and interviews don't really change the rankings that much, and I have to say that I got the impression from my interviewers that this was true. Like what I said in my interviews wouldn't have that much of a difference on whether or not I would receive an offer. I could be way off base here, but I guess we'll see if my intuition proves right in a couple of weeks.
    4) They said they would extend informal offers within two weeks of the interviews. The offers are informal because they need to go through a formal approval process, and it sounds like there's a small but unlikely chance that you could get an informal offer and be rejected during the approval process.
    5) If any of the other interviewees want to stay in touch, PM me! I'm sad that we didn't exchange contact info.

    Anyway, hope this helps! Obviously, this report is limited to LBS, but hopefully it provides some insight into what can happen during an interview weekend. And maybe this can start a trend of other people posting about their experiences so future applicants can get a better idea of what to expect.

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    Re: Interview Experience: London Business School (Organisational Behaviour)

    My flyout experience was pretty similar, although for me it's the accounting PhD at a U.S school. Regarding the shortlist, what makes you think that it is pre-ranked? I kinda thought about that after the interview too, as I talked to other applicants (3 of us in total). For the same interviewer, we were asked different questions. For me, the professor kinda dived into the literature and asked me a bunch of technical questions about methodologies and research interests. For the other 2 applicants, they dealt with more general questions such as why this school, why accounting, etc. We were the first group to fly out, and the university will have the other group coming in this week (7 in total for 3 slots). It's really nerve-cracking during this period (I think all of us applicants can relate

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    Re: Interview Experience: London Business School (Organisational Behaviour)

    Hey, I attended the interview for Finance in LBS. A little bit more info:
    1) Suit is really unnecessary. I was the only one among the guys who did not wear suit and I was perfectly fine
    2) Finance interview has some technical questions. And I guess it was not pre-ranked as I was the first to be interviewed and I am now on a waiting-list.

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    Re: Interview Experience: London Business School (Organisational Behaviour)

    So the reason why I say that I felt that the shortlist was pre-ranked was because I had a strong sense partway through the day that I was going to get an offer based on the way that various professors were asking questions, and this intuition was confirmed by both the emails I exchanged with professors after the interviews as well as the actual offer that followed. While it's possible that I could have been so dazzling during my first couple of interviews that those professors then told the other profs that they needn't form their own judgments, I doubt that this was the case for many reasons.

    As for the suit, while I don't think anyone would have commented on my attire for not wearing a suit, the fact that you were the only one not wearing a suit perhaps says something. I don't think it'll have a conscious negative effect, but you never know about those snap judgments that unconsciously bias people's decisions, so why take the risk? I'm also not sure why you think that being interviewed first meant that you were ranked first on the shortlist? If you were attending the interview day, wasn't everyone being interviewed at the same time? Otherwise, my experience with interview order is that it is just based on mutual schedule compatibility.

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    Re: Interview Experience: London Business School (Organisational Behaviour)

    Hi

    Was just wondering - was this for 2015 intake- interview happened this year?

    I am asking because I had also applied so if the interviews have already happened, that means I did not make it..

    Could you please confirm

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    Re: Interview Experience: London Business School (Organisational Behaviour)

    Quote Originally Posted by Kavitam View Post
    Hi

    Was just wondering - was this for 2015 intake- interview happened this year?

    I am asking because I had also applied so if the interviews have already happened, that means I did not make it..

    Could you please confirm
    I am not 100% sure, but I do believe that this is for 2015 since mordant's other posts are for interviews and acceptances this season. Also this was for OB, they might do different times for different departments.
    Til now I always got by on my own
    I never really cared until I met you...

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    Re: Interview Experience: London Business School (Organisational Behaviour)

    Quote Originally Posted by XanthusARES View Post
    I am not 100% sure, but I do believe that this is for 2015 since mordant's other posts are for interviews and acceptances this season. Also this was for OB, they might do different times for different departments.
    Ok thanks.. I am a working professional, and while I applied, I didn't get time to browse these forums... Now that I have done, my eyes are open.. Doesn't look like I am getting any acceptance this year...

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    Re: Interview Experience: London Business School (Organisational Behaviour)

    This. Is so. Helpful. Thank you!!! It's really great knowing beforehand what to expect, especially about the competition, which would surely have unnerved me when I got there!

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    Re: Interview Experience: London Business School (Organisational Behaviour)

    Quote Originally Posted by mordant View Post
    I received the interview invite by email less than two weeks before the scheduled onsite interview days. They do an onsite competitive interview: I initially thought that they'd probably accept most if not all candidates that they interviewed since they go to the expense of flying everyone out, but they explicitly told us at the beginning of the interview day that they could make up to 3 offers and there were 8 of us interviewing. It's a good sign that you were chosen for an interview, but you're still not out of the woods yet.
    This is actually pretty surprising because I also heard some "rumors" that if you're selected for an interview, and especially when you're offered a flyout, you have a very high chance of getting in. I guess this depends on the school? I was always interested in the chances of actually having an offer after the interview. Does anybody have thoughts on this?

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    Re: Interview Experience: London Business School (Organisational Behaviour)

    Any news of Imperial?

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