What Justin Bieber Can Teach Us About MBA Recruiting

By Tyler Burkett '16

Tyler Burkett '16

Tyler Burkett '16

You might just think of him as a jackass in Calvin Klein underwear, but Justin Bieber can teach us a lot about MBA recruiting. For example, a careful analysis of “Where are you now?” tells the story of the endless awkwardness of setting up a coffee chat with an alum who left your supposed dream firm.

Bieber’s latest Top 40 song, “What Do You Mean,” brilliantly encapsulates the emotional roller coaster of case interviews.  His very first two lines “What do you mean? Oooh/When you nod your head yes” captures the intellectual nakedness he feels when tasked with solving the impossibly simple business puzzle in a high pressure setting.  

By endlessly repeating “[w]hat do you mean,” Bieber’s innocent question turns into a desperate plea, as Bieber digs his own grave by not understanding the direction of an interviewee-lead case. Bieber’s fiery confidence is doused with a bucket of cold reality as his framework fails to propel the case forward and his boyish eyes fail to win over the female interviewer’s heart. Despite exuding confidence just minutes prior, he now feels like he looks downright stupid, akin to being filmed naked in his Calvin Klein underpants. An exasperated Bieber is now endlessly brainstorming as his interviewer refuses to release key data points; Bieber laments “you don’t want me to move/but you tell me to go.”

Caught between trying to capture a dream job and wishing he was back home in his suburban oasis of Calabasas (CA) already, the time pressure renders his already hollow brain into complete mush. His interviewer starts to lose her patience and “[s]aid we’re running out of time.”

While Bieber felt great about his growth strategies, straight out of Marc Cosentino’s “Case In Point,” his interviewer’s nonverbal cues suggest he is off point. A desperate Bieber laments, “you’re so indecisive of what I’m saying.”  After the interviewers asks him if there is a non-organic growth strategy he should consider, Biebs once again questions his interviewer, with “Don’t know if you’re happy, or complaining.”

After getting through a 4P framework, the interviewer seems discontent and suggests going back to the initial framework: “First you wanna go to the left and you want to turn right.” At this point, Bieber knows his geographical preferences don’t matter, he’s not getting the job. After asking “What do you mean?” 21 more times, his repetitiveness starts to mimic the rhythm of a carpenter putting the final nail in this metaphorical coffin.

While Bieber knows he has failed on nearly all dimensions on this case, he still tries to stumble through a recommendation, first recommending a partnership, before realizing he has only made points for an acquisition, to which the interviewer sternly warns “better make up your mind.”

Bieber’s recruiting futility shines through in this latest, relatable top-40 hit and once again, Bieber reveals how much he says while saying so damn little.


Bieber is currently working on a song called “Never Going to Leave You,” about how he decides to return to his former employer after failing to transition to his dream job.