Your language, voice and attitude are your key instruments to make yourself heard and noticed at that crucial stage of your MBA application, the MBA interview.
Here are some important tips to make you sound polished and professional.
The MBA interview is the last step, the last hurdle and, admittedly, the trickiest one to overcome successfully. So much can go wrong. Luckily, it is all up to you.
Whether you are a seasoned or a young professional, you still need to work hard on your speech and conduct before your MBA interview. The reason is that you are probably not aware of exactly how you sound and look while in conversation. In addition to preparing yourself mentally and physically to channel a polished, professional and trustworthy image, you might want to record yourself holding a conversation on your phone’s voice memo app. Prepare to be surprised. You are likely to sound totally different than you thought you did.
Check out: Hot Questions about MBA Interview Questions
The key communication skills to hone and master prior to your interview are
1) your tone of voice;
2) your pace of speaking;
3) parasitic words;
4) your volume of speech.
Interviewers will react subconsciously to these four aspects of your speech. Whatever smart things you are saying and regardless of your previous achievements, should these four key factors be missing, the panel will find you wanting.
Your tone of voice: maturity is an asset
A voice that sounds too fledgling and insecure will diminish your accomplishments. In order to take hold of that challenge, take time for a couple of weeks before your interview to… sing. That’s right! Singing will loosen your pharynx and lengthen your breath, which will help your voice sound more mature. Stir up the muscles in your mouth. This is not a joke. Hollywood actors do it all the time.
Your pace of speaking: take it slow
Rushing when you speak gives the impression that you do not value what you are saying, and it does not give people a chance to absorb what you are saying. Maintain a steady and balanced speed of speech. To practise, talk or read out loud to yourself and clap your hands at the end of every sentence to train your brain to stop for punctuation marks.
Parasitic words such as like, um, you know – they all make you sound like you do not know what to say, like you need to qualify all of your statements. Replace those filler words with pauses, which allow you to gather your thoughts and think more clearly, while giving meaning to the next thing to say.
Make yourself heard
If your voice is barely audible, chances are whatever you are saying will come across as equally unsubstantial. Unsurprisingly, speaking up will make you feel more powerful. That is not to say that you should yell. Instead, you must extend your voice forward. Make sure it comes from the front of your mouth and not from the back. Visualising your voice as a ball you can bounce off the walls will help you project a controlled and confident attitude without feeling unnatural or overdoing it.
Check out: MBA interview prep tips by ESSAYEDGE
What about the things you say?
The admissions officer will judge if you are decent, trustworthy, self-confident, energetic, determined, and if you would generally fit in with the school’s spirit and tradition based on the way you present your thoughts.
The things you say will help them decide how smart, prepared and experienced you are, as well as how you could contribute to your class and programme.
Do your research and see which the most common interview questions are. Be well prepared to present yourself properly and explain why you want to pursue an MBA, and what exactly led you to choosing this particular programme.
Clarify in your head what your ambitions and goals are. Dress them in humble yet powerful expressions that are also true.
Think of a challenging situation that you can retell at the interview, that will show your leadership, management, decision-making and team-player qualities in the best possible light.
It’s not about the “I”
Try to say fewer ‘I’s and more ‘we’s, especially if it is obvious you must have had collaborators. Still, make sure you stress your leadership qualities like taking charge and responsibility for the end result, motivating your colleagues, communicating tasks and analysing results.
Straight to the point
Answer exactly the questions you have been asked. Do not beat around the bush. Do not get side-tracked by other stories, tempting as it might be. Be concise, precise and clear in delivering your message.
Make sure you start with the most important part of your story. Think of it as a reverse pyramid. Try to concentrate more meaning in your first couple of sentences as those will be the most effective to your interviewers. You do not know how many questions they have for you in store, so brevity here is key.
MBA interviews are not long (between 20 and 60 minutes). Still, it’s important to stay as focused as you possibly can. Check online which the most frequently asked questions are and rehearse your answers in advance.
Check out: Admissions Interview
Your interview, your story
There is no one refrain that interviewers expect to hear from successful candidates. They are really looking to hear your story, your point of view and read your mind-set through your presentation.
Make it personal. Help them get a glimpse of the kind of person, colleague, professional and leader you are. Retain your own style. Do not try to be generic in order to minimize the risk of someone not liking you. Be honest about your ambitions, as outrageous as you think those might be. Be your best self as much as you can.
Know that you may ask questions if you feel you need to. These need to be well thought through and reflect how well you have studied the school’s programme.
Be calm, collected, positive and friendly. Trust us, the panel really want to like you too.
This article has been produced by Advent Group and featured in the 2015-2016 Access MBA Guide.
Check out the PrepAdviser infographic for more advice on how to impress during an MBA interview.
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