MBA Interview Prep 5: General Tips
5th in a 5-part series on MBA interviews
The interview is one of the most nerve-racking parts of the MBA application process. This is the last hurdle you have to cross and one of the critical factors in the admissions decision. Below we offer some tips to help you navigate this process:
1) Understand the different formats:
Most MBA programmes follow a one-on-one interview format. Schools such as Harvard Business School, MIT Sloan School of Management and Yale School of Management prefer a member of the admissions committee to conduct these interviews, either in person or by video or audio call. Haas School of Business, Kellogg School of Management and The University of Chicago Booth School of Business, will ask an alumnus to interview applicants, usually face-to-face. Most of these will be blind interviews where the alumnus has access to only your resume. Schools like LBS and INSEAD, on the other hand, will provide their alumni with the entire application and also try to find an interviewer from your industry. The format followed by The Wharton School and Ross School of Business, is a team-based discussion. Knowing the format will help you to better understand what to expect when you go for these interviews.
2) Research your interviewer:
If the MBA programme gives you the name of your interviewer, then take some time to conduct research. Platforms such as LinkedIn and Facebook, along with the company website, will help you learn basic details. This will help you break the ice and form a rapport with your interviewer. You will also gain insights into their career path after graduating, which can help you better understand your future prospects. However, avoid mentioning details that aren’t relevant to the admissions process as you don’t want to seem too familiar with their personal life. Doing so may make the environment uncomfortable.
3) Prepare and practice:
Practising for your interview will allow you to fine-tune your answers, be more confident, express yourself clearly and be calm and collected during the actual session. During your 30-45-minute interview, the interviewer may ask you standard questions such as:
- “Tell me about yourself.”
- “Why this programme?”
- “Where do you see yourself in 10 years?”
- “Tell me about a time when you overcame a failure.”
Make sure to review your application and jot down some points so that you have clear answers to these questions. You should also schedule mock interviews with your colleagues, friends or family, preferably someone who doesn’t know your application well so that you are forced to answer as succinctly and clearly as possible.
4) Don’t overthink unexpected questions:
No matter how much you prepare, you cannot anticipate every question. Some interviewers may also tailor questions based on your profile or give you a scenario and ask how you would tackle the situation. If you do get these types of questions, be honest, stay calm and answer the question thoroughly without rambling on. Keep in mind, most interviewers aren’t looking for a right or perfect answer, but rather are assessing your thought process and confidence. During your mock interview, you can ask your friends or family to throw in a few unplanned questions so you will have the opportunity to practice thinking on your feet.
5) Ask the right questions:
At the end of your interview, you will get a chance to ask your interviewer questions. Prepare questions in advance, keeping in mind your interviewer’s relationship with the programme (employee or alumnus). Make sure you ask questions that relate to your goals and can give you insights not readily available on websites or other published materials.
6) Remember the basics:
Like most other interviews, you need to dress appropriately; formal business attire is universally accepted. Remember to be yourself and ensure that you sound genuine and excited and not over-rehearsed. Collect your thoughts before every question and answer in a concise manner. After your interview is over, be sure to send your interviewer a thank you note.
An MBA interview gives you a chance to show your personality and demonstrate why you are the best fit for the programme. So, make sure you put your best foot forward. If you have any other questions or need more guidance, get in touch.