Applying to an MBA programme can be an exciting, but lengthy experience; first, there will be deadlines to submit your application, essay, and GMAT score.
After this, in order for schools to get to know you beyond what you put on paper, most will invite the strongest candidates to participate in an MBA interview. This is a great – albeit daunting – opportunity to show the school why you are a perfect candidate for the limited number of positions available in a program. Here are some tips designed to help you succeed at the interview stage:
Do your research before the MBA interview
When a date has been set for your MBA interview, make sure you know the information you originally submitted inside and out. MBA admissions panels review thousands of applications, and making good use of opportunities to reference your application materials in the interview will allow them to better relate your interview to what got you this far in the first place.
Those who interview you expect you to be au fait with the basics of the school and the program. Hopefully you’ll already know this from before you even applied, but it’s always worth refreshing you memory. Know the school, the expectations of the program, and be ready to demonstrate how you would be a good fit if you were to be admitted. It’s not going to reflect well on you if you ask questions that a basic scan of the program website could have resolved.
Preparing for the MBA Interview: Don’t forget the basics
When you’re 15 minutes early, you’re on time. Nothing is worse than an applicant wasting an interviewer’s time. Allow plenty of time before leaving your home to account for unexpected things, such as traffic, public transport delays or getting lost on the way to the exact location for your interview.
It should go without saying, but many interviewees still struggle to turn up to an interview in the appropriate attire. Don’t mess with the classic formula – business formal, or business casual if are certain it would be appropriate.
During your MBA interview
It may be that this isn’t your only interview, and the school is not your first choice. Regardless, you should exude enthusiasm when you meet the admissions panel, and let your personality shine through.
This is not just a question of professionalism. You never know when your second or third choice school might suddenly become your first choice, and therefore in every interview you attend, you should strive to stand out from the hundreds of other potential students being interviewed.
Body language is just as important as what you say in an MBA interview. Maintain good posture, make eye contact and breathe. Also, it sounds obvious but is sometimes simply forgotten – ensure your phone stays silent and out of sight for the duration of the interview.
“Tell me about yourself.” A very common interview question, but one which nonetheless can easily catch out the unprepared interviewee.
Have a plan in place for this question. There’s no strict rule but you might, for example, give them some bullet points listing things like where you studied your undergraduate degree and what interested you about the subject, any work experience, leadership accomplishments, and your career goals. It’s definitely worth mentioning any hobbies and interest outside of your professional or academic life to give the interviewer a fuller picture of the candidate before them.
Another question you are likely to be asked is, “What are your strengths and weaknesses?” Here, it’s worth having two or three things in mind for each – and to be honest. If you shine in one area, be sure to mention it. If you know you have some problems in another area, do not leave it out. Admissions officers are looking for evidence that an applicant has a sense of humility and is self-aware.
There will be questions where the MBA admissions panel may ask you to describe certain situations. It could be about managing a conflict, or exceeding expectations. Again, you can plan out some scenarios in order to best work out how to draw upon your experience in answering these questions.
When answering a question, you should demonstrate thoughtfulness as well as confidence. Try not to feel as you must say as much as possible, as this can see a candidate ramble on until they completely lose their train of thought. An ability to communicate in a clear, concise manner is, after all, an essential trait of the successful manager.
Instead, take time to absorb each question, and answer appropriately. However, don’t pause for too long before answering. A prolonged silence could count against you in an MBA interview.
Most interviewers will ask you if you have any questions – you should take advantage of this to gain clarity where you may not have any. Be sure to have at least two questions to ask. You might ask – if it’s clear that the end of the interview is in sight – whether the panel has an estimated time of when you will hear back regarding your acceptance. It’s far better, though, to have a more original question than this in mind – one that might have direct relevance to your individual circumstances, for instance, or something related to the course that is not made explicit elsewhere.
The length of an interview varies according to the school and the number of people they are seeing. Once the interview comes to a close, don’t forget to thank everyone for taking the time out to speak with you. Again, make eye contact and give a firm handshake to everyone in the room.
After the MBA interview
You could consider sending a follow-up thank you note to the person or people who interviewed you, in which you tell them you look forward to hearing from them soon. It may be the 21st century, but basic manners and courtesy will still get you far.
An MBA interview may only last for 30 minutes to an hour, but the real work is done before. Success and entry to a top program has the potential to change your life, so if you’re invited to come in for an interview, make sure you’re ready to prove that you’re the best choice for the school’s MBA programme.
Article credit : qscourses
The MBA Interview: Secrets to Success