Mr. Madison, what you just said is the most insanely idiotic thing I have ever heard.

At no point in your incoherent rambling response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. We are all now dumber for having had listened to it.

I feel the need to elaborate on my horrible interview.

The question that killed me (not that I had been so hot to begin with): What is the hardest feedback you have ever received?

Not a difficult question. Not a trick question. But a question for which I was absolutely not prepared. The mistake? First, I blanked. Nothing. Nada. I could not think of anything. Then, I did think of something, but I didn’t think it was good enough. The truth is, I don’t often have a hard time with feedback, unless I think the person giving the feedback is an idiot. And even then, I don’t have a hard time with it. I just think that the person is an idiot. It’s not that I’m perfect (or anywhere near it), but I grew up in a very feedback-friendly home. And when I say friendly, I am not using the adjective to describe the feedback itself.

My mother was a believer in honest feedback. Sure, she might have tried to soften it, like when she told me one day, “You know, your hair is almost as long as So-and-So’s was when hers was too long.” Thanks, Mom. Or “I don’t know if that dress is as flattering as another one might be.” Actually, my mom was really good about being kind and honest…and if not totally kind, at least funny.

My siblings and I were raised that way. You know how some girls will complain about being fat with some deep-seated desire for someone to contradict them. Well, I was whining one day about my weight. It was the summer after my freshman year in college and I was home, driving in my little VW convertible with my little brother. I kept going on about how much weight I had gained. Finally, Justin looked at me and said, “So, what are you doing about it?”
“Nothing, I guess.”
“Then shut up.”

Not mean, just honest.

When it came to the positive things, my mom taught us how to “brag” to each other. I love this about my family. We still do it. I will call one of my siblings just to say, “So, tell me how great I am.”
“Because I just (fill in the blank).”

This is one of my favorite family practices. I have a vivid memory of sitting in my apartment at King Henry and my sister, Alicia, walking in the front door (we were roommates in college) and saying, “Can I just brag for a minute?” I loved it.

And to further illustrate how my family is, I called both of my sisters to tell them about the interview experience and the feedback I got? Erika basically said it was okay because this particular school was not necessarily my first choice. No talk of, “I’m sure it wasn’t as bad as you think.” There was, perhaps, a little reassurance that the interview is not everything, but there were no false statements about it “not being so bad”.

Alicia’s response? “Why didn’t you talk about when the advisor guy basically told you that you didn’t have a chance of getting in to any schools in the top 20?”
“I didn’t think about it.”
“That was the first thing that popped into my head.”
“Yeah. It’s the only time I can think of when I have heard you complain about feedback.”
“Well, you know how I have my moments and then cool off?”
“Really? You? Noooo. Not you.”
“I had completely forgotten about it.”
“Well, if you’re meant to get in, you will, even if you did totally botch the interview.”

Yep…that’s my family.

What does all of that have to do with my interview? It’s simple really. I could not think of a single time when I have had a hard time with feedback. I can think of times when my feelings have been hurt, but that’s it. Growing up in my family, I was fully educated in my flaws, not because we were emotionally abused or anything like that, but my mom did not believe that false flattery helped anyone. Because of this self-awareness, it is rare that someone tells me something about myself I don’t already know. While it might be hard to hear it, I am rarely surprised and so the pain is quickly forgotten.

So, why didn’t I just say that (in fewer words, of course)? I have no idea. I froze. I didn’t think that answer was good enough. Instead, what poured forth from my mouth was a mishmash of unintelligible thought that made no sense and had no point and didn’t illustrate any kind of difficult feedback. I think I even said that I was not making sense at one point, although it’s a bit of a blur now.

Anyway, there were a few other choice moments, like the fact that, when asked about my current job, I failed to mention any of my accomplishments there, but the feedback question would definitely be the highlight of the experience.

The good news in all of this is that, while I would feel totally honored and flattered to be accepted to this particular MBA program, I know that it would make my decision really hard as it is a great school, but so is the other one that has invited me to interview. And that interview is bound to go better because a) it will not be telephonic and b) experience gained from error is often more valuable than that gained from success, in other words, I will be much more prepared for this one.

So, only one more application to finish by Dec. 1st. And then I wait. And wait. And wait. And try to remember that “it always works out.”

5 thoughts on “Mr. Madison, what you just said is the most insanely idiotic thing I have ever heard.

  1. You’re right–it DOES always work out. It’s hard not to try to bend the world to our will, though. Hope you know I’ve been following your grad school process like some people follow celebrities in People Magazine! You’re my hero, Chloe, truly.

  2. I am all for honest feedback. In fact the other day Garrett said to me, “you know I love you, but those jeans just aren’t working anymore.” My initial reaction was to look at him with my mouth wide open, but then I realized that is what I want! I don’t want him looking at my blindly all the time saying everything just looks beautiful, when sometimes it really just isn’t working anymore! Sorry about the interview! As frustrating and annoying as it can be sometimes, it always does work out. Good luck!

  3. my family is honest like yours but maybe we’re not as nice about it. one of the funniest things i’ve ever heard was sister #1 telling sister #2, “you’re not fat and ugly. you’re fat and beautiful.” and now we quote it all the about the interview. but, like you said, you’re so much more prepared for your forthcoming inters.

  4. I could totally fit in your family! I think it is a blessing to be surrounded by really honest people like that, as well as to have one as a friend- assuming one is the type that can take that kind of honesty from a friend.

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