The MBA Interview

 

Once you submit an application to a B-School, most Top B-Schools continue their quest to find the “Perfect” Candidate through a Personal Interview; generally Interview is an elimination stage and most often the final stage in the application process, hence making it extremely important for applicants.

B school interviews are conducted either by members of the admissions committee or by alumni. These interviews are usually conducted in 3 ways:

1. Personal Interview (face-to-face): Most of the top B schools in the world prefer to meet the candidate in person.

2. Video Interview: A lot of the B schools are moving on to web interview through webcam.

3. Telephonic interview: Earlier, this used to be the preferred mode of interviewing. A lot of B schools still conduct telephonic interviews.

Most B schools will give you the option of choosing from the above modes. As far as possible, one should opt for a personal interview. Afterall, it is easier to talk to a person face-to-face than over the telephone.

In addition to these, some Indian B schools such as ISB have panel interview, where a candidate is interviewed by a panel of two to three interviewers.

Let’s first see why an Interview is conducted and given extreme importance:

– Authenticity of the application: Since the pre-interview application process gives the applicants lot of time to form their essays, Statements and CV , B-Schools would like to see how original the ideas presented in the application are, and also if application really reflects the individual.

– Communication Skills: A successful Business Grad is expected to articulate his/her ideas clearly which an Interview will reflect.

– Promote the School: A typical interview will also contain a section in which the interviewer would respond to the applicants questions and provide insights on the school and the program in the process market the school ( It is also a very effective way to attract top-applicants toward the school).

– Elimination: As mentioned earlier Interview is generally an elimination round which will help the school to finalize on their list.

Having read about why the University needs an Interview, let’s now focus on how to make the cut:

 –  Read your application: You may have submitted your application 1-2 months before the interview and may not remember everything in the application, therefore read your application thoroughly to ensure you don’t divert from what you’ve mentioned in the application  which obviously would deter your chances of getting your dream admit.

–  Analyze the School:  It’s very similar to how a company would expect their candidates to know about them, you are expected to know about the strengths, courses and advantages of getting into the School.  Look up on the key factors such as the curriculum (and align it with your goals), location, placement record and the niche areas of the school (For E.g.: Babson is known for its Entrapeunership program, similarly Thunderbird School of Business is well known for the International Business program etc..).

 More research better the Interview.

– Talk to Alumni: Try to build your network with the alumni of the schools your applying to in advance , nobody else can give you a better picture of the school than the Alum’s.

Practice: Take as many mock sessions as possible with different people and get yourself set for the real one, establish a theme and fine-tune the same through your preparation.

 The following are some questions which are invariably asked in almost all interviews.

 1)      Tell me something about yourself.

2)      Why do you need an MBA?

3)      What are your short term and long term career goals?

4)      Why are you applying to this university?

5)      What are your Strengths and weaknesses?

6)      How can you add value to your class?

7)      Describe your professional and academic achievements.

8)      What are your most important professional accomplishments?

9)      What is your leadership style?

10)   Give an example of an instance when you exhibited leadership quality.

11)   What questions do you have about the university?

Now, these are some tips which will help you crack the B school interview.

 1)  Establish a Theme / Plot: Imagine a movie being made on you, what are the key aspects you’d like to showcase, how would you want to link different stages of your life?, How will  having an MBA differ the story line? – link different aspects of your life to create a central theme and let the flow of the interview lead to it.

2) Strike a Conversation: Don’t let your interview turn into a Q&A session, establish a rapport early in the interview and converse.

3) Don’t sound scripted: Don’t write down your responses, present your response naturally.

4)  Don’t be arrogant: There is a very thin line between confidence and arrogance. So, tread carefully.

5) Close your answers: Always end your response and don’t leave it open ended.

6) Provide examples: whenever you refer to achievements, strengths etc… provide references that will make your statement more valid.

7)  Be calm and relaxed

8) Speak SLOWLY. We, Indians, have a tendency to speak way too rapidly.

9) Always Thank the Interviewer for his time.

10) Do not ask for the result!

And, one last thing you need to keep in mind –  If You Have it Flaunt it !!

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