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I remember that I was ecstatic when I got the interview invite from my preferred, premiere MBA institution. I had clicked the submit button, knowing that getting them to look at my CV would be hard enough. An interview invite was far more than I had expected.

My family insisted I should be well prepared for the interview as this institution was notorious for asking atypical questions. Googling further about the process guided me to several free blogs and websites which allowed me to gather a reasonable amount of information on the experience of previous interviewees, hinting and highlighting points to be careful about and suggesting extra caution if being interviewed by specific, infamous members of the admissions team.

The extreme excitement coupled with the warnings I found online created an immense sense of nervousness within me. I recall that sleep was hard to come by the night before D-day. I knew however that the only thing that could now stop me from getting an offer letter is the lady that would be sitting across the table from me, at 11am tomorrow morning.

The morning flew by. I barely remember leaving home, getting to the hotel (the venue for the interview) and walking into the brightly lit conference room only to sit across the table from a lady who looked like she belonged to the Adams’ family.

The first few questions were straight forward.

“Tell me about your biggest achievement”

“Why did you choose to pursue a Bachelors of Arts?”

“Talk about one moment where you worked in a team to achieve a task, and succeeded.”

Answers appeared to come to me naturally. I felt that I was confident and concise. A good quality to have if I wanted the nod from this woman. I did get the feeling however, that her pedigree at this college was unparalleled. I’m certain that she could detect my (over) confidence, as she put me in my place by asking her next question.

“What do you think about Garden Gnomes?”

I’m sure I was unknowingly, yet awkwardly staring at her while the blood drained from my face. ‘This is it’ was my thought. ‘It’s the end’.

Just when I was about the get up and walk out without uttering a word, a flash-back took me to Grandpa’s house in the countryside. One which has a small yet elegant front lawn with a foot-tall ornament. One which looks like a miniature old man, wearing a tall, point red hat and has the longest beard that I’ve ever seen, reaching down to the belt buckle. It was a Garden Gnome that Grandma had gifted to him last Christmas. The best part was that it came with a tiny 2-page booklet tied to its neck. Explaining the history and significance of the cheerful little beings.

Fascinated by the symbology surrounding these tiny resin men, I recalled fervently digging my nose into the booklet while everyone else enjoyed a nice hot cup of Grandma’s famous mulled wine.

I snapped back to the present, and considered the best way to structure all that I could recall from my read. Mind you, it wasn’t much. But whatever it was, it was all I could say about the topic. Better than nothing I guess. Soon after, I began reciting my response to the woman. Hoping and praying that I was answering in full sentences while adhering to the correct grammar.

The next two weeks were long and painful. I distinctly remember that cold Tuesday evening in the middle of November, when the ‘MBA – Final Application Decision’ email finally popped up in my inbox. The feeling of success was hard to contain, and continues to bring me an immense sense of pride and joy every time I think about it.

Story shared by – Meenakshi