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5 ways to nail your MBA interview

Thursday, July 26, 2018
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5 ways to nail your MBA interview
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With your business school applications complete, you're currently playing the waiting game. When you finally do hear back, congratulations are in order once you score an interview. However, the true celebrations won't begin until after the interview. Right now, it's about focusing your attention on preparing for the stellar meeting that secures your acceptance into the Master of Business Administration program.

Keep these tips in mind to ace your MBA interview:

1. Don't wing it
Even with impressive test scores and highly convincing letters of recommendation, the interview stage can make or break your acceptance. While schools won't schedule interviews if they aren't interested in you, it's still important to take the process seriously. A healthy amount of confidence is good, but you don't want to seem arrogant. Remember that even if current students or alumni conduct the interview, you shouldn't dismiss their credibility. They still report to the admissions committee and understand what the school wants to see in potential candidates.

2. Do your research
With winging it off the table, your preparation should begin with research. While you've certainly looked into the school previous to applying, now's the time to find out about interview styles. BusinessBecause recommended collecting relevant information such as:

  • Who conducts the interviews?
  • Do they take place on campus or virtually?
  • Are there certain questions they always ask?

Some of this information is available on the business school's website, or from other online resources like this compilation of common MBA interview questions from top U.S. business schools from CNBC. Alternatively, talking to alumni and current students is a great way to learn about the MBA interview experience. Ask them for general advice, and then pick their brains for more specifics, such as which questions caught them off guard or what they chose to ask about the school during their interview. The more you know about the interview process, the more confident and prepared you'll feel when it's time for yours.

MBA program candidates waiting to interviewPreparation is key for a stellar MBA interview.

3. Remember the details
While your main concern will be answering questions with appropriate and engaging responses, don't overlook the details. Of course, appearance matters. You'll want to show that you're a professional before you even dive into the questions. Plus, give yourself plenty of time to get to the interview, accounting for potential traffic or a need to calm last-minute nerves. If it's an online interview, test your webcam and microphone a few minutes before the interview. Keep post-interview etiquette in mind as well, sending a thank-you note or email within 24 hours of your interview. Some business schools actually require a follow-up message, but it's a good idea to do so even if it's not obligatory.

4. Practice your answers
While many interviewers will throw in questions intended to catch you off guard, there are several inquiries that you can prepare for in advance. Most interviews begin with questions about yourself, giving interviewers an opportunity to get to know you as a person. Be genuine with your answers, offering admissions committees an idea of what motivates you and how your personal interests relate to your studies. Interviewers phrase these questions in various ways, with some common ones being:

  • Tell me about yourself.
  • How would your undergraduate professors describe you?
  • Who would attend your ideal dinner party?
  • What's the last book you read?
  • How would you describe yourself in three words?
  • What motivates you?
  • How do you define success?
  • Tell me about a time you failed.

Other questions will, of course, touch on your professional and academic goals and experiences, such as:

  • Why did you choose this career path?
  • How do you think this program will help you achieve your professional goals?
  • How can you contribute to the business world?
  • How have your previous experiences prepared you for this program?
  • What were your favorite courses in college?
  • Describe a time you handled conflict with a difficult peer, professor or manager.

Finally, you'll need to have solid responses for school-specific questions, which may include:

  • Why did you choose this school?
  • Which of our values or principles resonate most with you?
  • What other schools are you applying to?

Whether it's in front of the mirror or in conversation with a friend, practice speaking about yourself in this context. Think about the relevant examples, stories and accomplishments you can talk about to answer potential interview questions. The Princeton Review even recommended consolidating your thoughts with two or three points you definitely want the interviewer to remember about you.

5. Be yourself
As with any interview, it's best to act as natural as possible. When you're overly formal, you risk coming off as performative or insincere. Avoid using too much business jargon or fluffy language. The interview isn't necessarily about impressing them with your knowledge, rather, it serves as an opportunity for admissions committees to get to know you and determine if you're a good fit for the program. 

With that, we wish you the best of luck in your upcoming interviews!

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