MBA applicants for Round 2 must be anxiously waiting for the interview offers as schools will start rolling out interview invitations from this week onwards. You have been working on your applications for the last several months- acing the GMAT, brainstorming stories, writing – rewriting essays, researching schools, approaching/selecting recommenders. It has been an arduous journey. It’s now time to prepare for the interview, the final step that will earn you that coveted place in your dream school.
Like GMAT prep and application prep, the interview stage also needs extensive preparation. It is your chance to show the admissions committee who you are beyond the written word. Your application (essays, resume, recommendations, etc.) tells them about your GMAT score, goals, accomplishments, and extra-curricular activities. Through the interview, the schools want to know who you are as a person and as a professional? They want to understand your background, post-MBA goals, professional skills, and strengths, interest in their school to assess how you will fit with the school’s culture, and how you will contribute to the school.
Here are some helpful tips that you should consider before, during, and after the interview.
Before the interview:
Before the interview, you should thoroughly review all parts of your application package: your essays, online application, recommendation letters, and resume. This is essential to be able to answer any questions regarding topics discussed in application i.e. career goals, why target school, contribution to the school, and also information provided in the resume so you can answer the question i.e. ‘walk me through your resume.’
‘B-schools are concerned about post-MBA career paths of their prospective students, so you should be prepared to discuss your post-MBA goals. You need to be incredibly articulate about goals and should be able to communicate them confidently and in detail.
You must meticulously research the school’s offerings and culture so you can confidently answer the question about your interest in pursuing an MBA from the X school.
Also, be prepared to discuss your pre-MBA industry experience as a major tool to ace B-school Interviews. Make sure you understand the importance of your pre-MBA work in terms of sales, profit, differentiation, innovation, and product rollout that is affected. Read about the key trend changes in your industry, recent advancements in people, process, or technology.
Prepare a list of some typical practice questions and use those questions to practice. Write out short bullet points to outline what you would say in response to your practice questions. Also, I will encourage you to practice in front of a mirror and with friends.
During the interview:
Your professional achievements should get significant time during your interview.
Refrain from using jargon. (The same advice we offered for résumé and essays)
For “situational questions”, follow the STAR technique that you follow in writing essays. STAR stands for situation, task, action, and result. For example, you can follow this technique to answer the following questions:
“Tell me about a time in which you failed,” “Tell me about a time when you were a leader ?” “Think of your most challenging situation in handling a difficult customer, and how did
you handle it? Tell me about a time when you helped someone succeed.” The best approach to handle behavioral questions is to follow the STAR method ( Situation, Task, Action, Result); it will help you construct a complete and concise answer and prevent you from drifting away from the expected response.
Also, think of a few interesting questions to ask the interviewer. Alumni interviewers will enjoy reminiscing about their MBA experiences and will love answering any questions about clubs or activities they were involved in. Current students can provide insights on what they enjoyed the most during their MBA and what they wish they had known.
Lastly, the best interviews are conversations in which both parties feel natural and comfortable. Don’t feel obligated to answer the question the moment it is asked. You may take a couple of seconds to process it and then answer it. If you do not understand the question, you may politely request the interviewer to repeat the question.
Some common interview questions are:
1) Tell me about yourself / Walk me through your resume
2) What do you see yourself doing at XXX (target school)?
3) What do you want to do after achieving your MBA
4) Do you have any questions for me?
At the end of the interview:
" Do you have any questions for me?"
This is a fundamental question that the interviewer may ask you, so you should prepare it thoroughly. You must leave a strong final impression by asking the right question. You must ask at least one question. If you do not ask anything, your interviewer might assume that you are not very interested in attending the school. Also, your question should be something relevant and not something which is not quickly answered by checking a website and should not look like a desperate attempt to ask anything.
Thus, if you can get from point A to point B in a clear, concise, and logical manner, maintain a friendly and professional demeanor, dress appropriately, and have a curious attitude about the program and its offerings, you stand a good chance of acing the interview. Do not ask the interviewer for feedback. You will come to know it sometime later. Lastly, send a brief email to your interviewer thanking him/her for devoting the time to your interview.
(myEssayReview) MER wishes all Round 2 applicants good luck with this final step in the MBA application process.
Since 2011, MER has assisted hundreds of applicants get accepted into the top 20 MBA programs. (Poonam, President and founder of MER, is one of the 5 highest-reviewed consultants on the GMAT Club.)