The interview is one of the most critical parts of the MBA application process. It is the final step in your journey to your target school that can make or mar your chances of success. So it’s crucial to be well prepared for it. However, no matter how adequately you have prepared your materials, it is your performance in the actual interview that will earn you a seat in your dream school. That is- your overall demeanor, presentation, and communication style during the interview are as crucial as the content.
Having conducted mock interviews of my clients over the last few years, I have noted down a few points that you should consider during your MBA interview.
1. Answer the question Asked: It might sound cliché, but it’s essential to answer the question asked. Often the applicants tend to speak what they have prepared, without paying full attention to the question asked. For example, if the interviewer has asked ‘What is your biggest strength? the applicants may start explaining the three biggest strengths because this is what they had prepared. So you must listen to the question attentively before beginning your response.
2. Stay focused on the response: Stay focused on the question asked and avoid rambling. Make sure to hold the interviewer’s attention and back up your answer with an example. If it a behavioral question, following the STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result) method will help you stay focused on all parts of your story and stop you from drifting into unnecessary details that are not directly related to your story/experience.
3. Don’t rush into answering the question: Please take a few seconds to answer the question, and don’t be under pressure to speak immediately. There are no brownie points for a quick response, so you may take a few seconds to process the question and then come up with an accurate and precise answer.
4. Answer complete question: Sometimes, the question has two parts, but the applicants may keep on elaborating on the first part of the question and end up missing out on the second part. For example, if you are asked, ‘How do you work in teams? How would you contribute to a team at X school’, you need to make sure that in addition to explaining how you function as a team player, you will also address how you see yourself contributing to the team at X school. Try to be as precise in your responses as you are in your written material.
5. Make eye contact: The best interviews are friendly and conversational. If you look at the wall or the ceiling or read from a paper you have brought along with, you will give the interviewer the idea that you are making a desperate attempt to remember your memorized answers. Make eye contact and engage in a friendly conversation about your professional and personal profile.
6. Avoid making unrelated statements: Sometimes, we inadvertently start making statements that have no bearing on the conversation. For example, avoid making comments such as ‘That’s a good question’, ‘I am assuming you don’t have my resume’, ‘right, right, right’, or ‘how should I put it’, ‘you might wonder’, etc. Also, please speak clearly and try to avoid ‘ums’ and ‘ahs’.
Interviewing is a skill that you can perfect with practice. You may practice in front of a mirror or set up a mock interview with a family member or a friend and ask for their objective feedback. You may also video record your interview so you can look at it later. You will be surprised to identify those little things about your speech and demeanor that you wouldn’t have noticed otherwise. Practice, practice, and more practice will help you be natural, relaxed, and confident.
Good luck with your interviews.
You may email Poonam at firstname.lastname@example.org about setting up a mock interview with MER