The MBA admissions interview is the final crucial step in your application. How to prepare to perform at your best?
An interview invitation usually means that you have worked hard on your MBA application, aced the GMAT, told a great story through your CV and essays, had your application package reviewed by a professional MBA admissions consultant, obtained glowing references, and submitted your application on time.
If you have been invited for an interview – congratulations! This means that the Admissions Committee at your dream business school considers you an interesting candidate and would like to meet you to further assess your qualifications and your personality.
Some candidates believe, mistakenly, that the interview is just a formality. If you were applying for a job, would you think that an interview was only a formality? Getting an interview simply means you are still “in the game”, so take the interview seriously!
Remember, there are many applicants vying for limited seats in the MBA programme, and your job is to “sell” yourself to the Admissions Committee. Be sure to know what the school is looking for in candidates and highlight your achievements that are most relevant to that particular business school.
A common question that many candidates ask is: How do I know what the school is looking for? Chances are, this is the first time you’ll be applying to an MBA programme, and you may simply not know what you don’t know. The easiest and most straightforward approach is to hire an MBA Admissions consultant with lots of experience in the industry. After all, you only do your MBA once, so getting into the best possible school that fits your profile and your career aspirations may mean the difference between living your dream career or getting stuck in the jobs you don’t like for another 30-40 years of your professional life.
How do I prepare for an MBA Admissions Interview?
Remember that the interview is the culmination of your entire application. It is a chance to clarify and elaborate on the “story” you told through your application, and make a good impression that will likely result in an offer of admission.
For this reason, your interview prep should begin well before you’re invited for one! When you’re putting together your “story”, be sure to highlight three main areas:
- Where you came from: your background, education, work experience, and community involvement.
- Where you’re going: your career objectives, your dream job after the MBA, where you see yourself in the next two, five and ten years.
- How this business school can help you get there: why the school is the perfect fit for you, how you would benefit from the MBA, and how you would contribute to the success of others.
If getting professional help with your MBA application is not practical, be sure to do extensive research on your own: read the comments and profiles of other candidates who were successfully admitted to the same school; visit the school campus and talk with current students; search your LinkedIn network and connect with students and alumni from that school; ask for advice; and definitely have someone, ideally a friend or a colleague who successfully applied to the same or a similar business school, run mock interviews with you and give you honest feedback.
How should I present myself at the interview?
Make a good first impression from the moment you walk into the reception area. Shake hands, maintain good eye contact and keep a positive attitude. Be humble but confident. Be well-rested and well-dressed. Be prepared, but don’t sound like you’re reading from a prompter. Most importantly, relax and be yourself. After all, you want the business school to admit you for who you really are!
Should I simply answer questions?
While it’s important to answer your interviewer’s questions, your job is to tell your “story” and further strengthen your application. Be sure to tailor your answers and highlight unique personal stories that make you different.
Let the interviewer guide you through the first steps, but then gently take control of the conversation. Be polite; never cut off the interviewer when he or she asks questions or makes comments. Start your answer by repeating the question; this will help you stay focused. Avoid one-word answers.
Most importantly, prepare two or three compelling questions, answers to which you can’t easily find on the Internet. Asking interesting and unique questions will make you more memorable and could tip the scales in your favour even more!
Finally, remember to follow up no later than one day after the interview, and ideally the same day if your interview is in the morning. Thank the interviewer(s) for their time and reiterate your interest in the programme. Good luck!
This article is original content produced by Advent Group and included in the 2016-2017 annual Access MBA, EMBA and Masters Guide under the title “Acing the MBA Interview”. The digital guide file will soon be available for download.