I thought I should post my experience of the second interview with INSEAD alumni. While this comes late for R1, I guess R2/3/4 may find some of this a little useful.
My second interview was with a partner in a pretty large firm, he specializes in consulting technology companies on mergers, acquisitions etc. He was very cordial right from the point of my asking for an interview until the end. He offered to buy me lunch, and the good thing was that the meeting place (a cafe) was just 10 minutes from home.
I was on time (BTW great view from his office floor!) and we went to the cafe and sat down. I made the mistake of ordering a big pizza (tip 1: if you're on a lunch/dinner interview, order something light and non-sticky to eat) while he settled for salad. The interview began with the question of why INSEAD - and I won't repeat myself here, but I had clear, strong reasons on why INSEAD. Interestingly, he and my previous interviewer never once asked me "why now" (when you consider I have over 11 years of experience), perhaps something told them I had my reasons. We touched a broad range of topics about business, challenges of doing business in emerging economies like India and China, developments in the technology industry etc. We did discuss a couple of times about what I planned to do after studies - and I think I conveyed the idea clearly that I wasn't looking for a company to join, but was more interested in the roles that would present myself to me. For example, I would not try to join an entry level MBA job in Goldman Sachs just because it is Goldman. My career step should make sense to me, and the job should be something I want to do - not just a blind status symbol.
I then asked him about his experience in INSEAD, and what it did to his career. He spoke quite a bit about his experience (he loved the time there) and how it helped his career. During the meeting he did speak in a tense as if I were in the school - but I did not try to infer too much from it. We also spoke about what he enjoyed at school and what was challenging (mandatory group assignments with no leader, and what if the group does not get along?). He asked me what I would consider as my top challenges on going back to school etc. Overall, a very friendly, cordial interview. He was both impressive and to the point, and I actually enjoyed the discussions over the lunch (though I hated the pizza). We ended the interview with some light hearted talk. He gave no specific indication if he would recommend me (neither of my interviewers did). After the interview, I sent a thank you note and some additional URL links which bolstered my case and he wished me luck.
After I received my admission, I sent him a note mentioning my admit and thanking him again for the time, and he sent a rather nice reply. I plan to e-mail him once more after I join and tell him my first impressions! And that ends my second interview saga.
Now a few things I believe will help those called for interview
1. No two interviews are the same, so don't go with preconceived notions. Expect to be asked why MBA and why INSEAD - but apart from that it's an open field.
2. Be comfortable - from the different experiences I have heard and then my own, it is usually friendly. After all, the alumnus is trying to find out if you would be an good alumnus to have! Be confident.
3. I did not hesitate to say I wanted to be in INSEAD.
So, if you have an interview, don't sweat - go ahead, have a good conversation, and I wish you a good interview!