Today’s post comes from Manhattan Review India, a well-known provider of test prep and MBA Admissions Consulting for Top Business Schools.
You’ve just been notified that you’ve landed an interview with your dream business school. Are you prepared to ace it?
At Manhattan Review, we recommend our clients to start prepping for this time to shine long before you’ve been notified. A huge mistake applicants sometimes make is waiting until the interview is scheduled to prepare. Why would anyone serious about getting into the MBA program of his or her choice take this risk?
Here’s valuable information we’ve learned from MBA applicants who’ve aced their interviews. It’s no secret there are instances where an applicant that was almost perfect on paper ultimately failed to be competitive due to a poor interview. Further, the reverse is true as well. At Manhattan Review we’ve seen a marginal applicant skyrocket to the top of the list because of an awesome interview! The key to success is not just thinking about answers to standard questions, but training yourself to give natural, knowledgeable, revealing and confident answers. And this takes time, research and practice. Here are the five strategies in detail that have helped many of our clients successfully ace their MBA interviews:
Preparation is Key.
Whoever said it was easy to sell yourself? No one likes being put on the spot spouting their achievements to a stranger. There’s a fine line between blatant arrogance and genuine confidence. That said, preparing ahead of time gives you the definite advantage ensuring that you won’t leave the interview with any regrets. There might be regrets about omitting important information or regrets about your demeanor during the interview. And lastly, you may have regrets about whether you asked the right questions of the interviewer.According to admission committee members, an interviewer can spot poor preparation the minute an applicant starts talking. So here are a few good tips to prepare and master:
1. how to communicate that you are proactive;
2. how you can be confident without being arrogant;
3. how you can let your personality shine through;
4. how to show the kind of enthusiasm for the school’s particular program.
Give yourself the time.
Find a quiet place, sit in a comfortable chair, give yourself the time to reflect. Listed below are common questions asked at these interviews. Write down how you would answer them as well as any points and arguments that surface. It’s a terrific way to be proactive, prepared and best of all, gives you a written resource to refer to when and if you start to question yourself. Keep editing the notes as ideas come up over time. Carry the notes with you – who knows when a useful bit of information will come to you.
- What kind of impression do I want to make?
- Why do I want to do this?
- Why now in my career?
- Why at this particular school?
- What are my short- and long-term goals after the MBA?
- What are my some of my strengths?
- What are my weaknesses?
- What do I expect of this school’s program?
- How can I contribute to this school’s program?
- What example best illustrates my leadership qualities?
- What are my interests and hobbies?
Research the school and its MBA program.
Try to attend information sessions on campus and meet with faculty and current students if possible. These are the people who can offer additional knowledge of the school’s admission interview. Ask the current students about their interview as well as their campus experience.Make an attempt to get a list of alumni who are willing to give you some time either on the phone or in person. There’s a good chance you’ll become acquainted with the format of the interview and even score a few of the types of questions common to your particular school of choice. Go online to access MBA blogs and forums to learn from the experience of others.
Practice with people who know you.
Interviewers can tell whether you are genuine or are just repeating content from your essays. It’s a good idea to work with friends or family members to conduct practice interviews. The object here is to get more relaxed and clear about what you want to say without periodically searching for the right words.One of our MBA applicants talked to his former supervisors and discovered intriguing information. He not only found out how they perceived him, but what they thought were his strengths and weaknesses. Obviously this kind of information gave him perspective and added insight. With regard to what he considered his weaknesses, he said “I felt it important to have answers to those questions – after all, these are the topics I’m least comfortable speaking about.”
We can’t say enough about the importance of preparation and practice. It’s the chance to allay some of fears…gather the kind of information that sets you apart…learn how others perceive you…and most of all, help you better interact with the interviewer.
Always ask impressive questions.
Okay, you’ve spent an inordinate amount of time on responses to the questions you’ll be asked. Now let’s focus on the questions you’ll ask. Your one chance to discover if the school is a good fit for you. Be considerate of time and take advantage to dig deeper into the experience you might have as an accepted student.If your questions are many, assess which to ask at the interview and which to save for your follow-up handwritten note or an email. Admission board members at various schools offered four of the best questions that will distinguish you form other candidates.
1. Can you tell me what you believe to be the school’s greatest assets?
This begs for a personalized view that will give you another perspective from someone who knows the environment well.
2. What do you feel is the school’s direction and vision for the future?
This question tells the interviewer you are already picturing yourself on the school’s campus.
3. Why did you decide to become part of the school?
The interviewer now has a chance to talk about his or her path. Chances are you’ll get an insider’s view of the school along with some genuine views you may want to consider.
4. What kind of advice can you offer me?
An excellent closing question because by now the interviewer undoubtedly has formed an opinion of you. And we hope it’s a positive one. By answering this, he or she can relate the assets of the school’s program more directly toward your career goals.
Lastly, there are other pretty basic factors to ace the interview. Arrive early to go over your thoughts…dress impeccably…respond to questions honestly…let your personality come through…and always display a clear desire to join the program.
We recommend that you attend our free interactive MBA Admissions Webinars where you gain lots of further useful insight into the MBA Admissions process from our consultants who have worked on the other side of the table and evaluated candidates for top business schools. Good luck with your conquest for an MBA!