A major component of your business school application is your interview. At most schools, admission departments will go through a first round of cuts before face-to-face interview. So, if you have made it to this point with your business school applications, congratulations. Hopefully you will receive some valuable guidance and suggestions from this article to make your interview a success.
Remember, your interview generally occurs right before a final admission decision is made. It is your last and best chance to make a good first impression. Do not take it lightly.
How the Interview Will Be Conducted
When you first start, your interviewer will generally give you a brief introduction of himself or herself and will tell you how the interview will progress. Most interviewers will not have read your application up to this point and will have no idea of the brilliant essays that you wrote for your application and won’t know all the nice things that your supervisor said in their recommendation.
Usually, the person interviewing you will have your résumé and some paper to take notes. The résumé will be referenced often and will incite many of the questions that you are asked throughout your interview. Also, do not be offended when your interviewer is looking down and taking notes. They are not disinterested to your conversation but are merely doing their job.
Dress to Impress
Just as if you were going in for a job interview, you should wear business attire to any and all admissions interviews, whether in person or over videoconference. This may seem self-evident, but a suit and a tie for men and modest professional clothes for women are a must. Your hair should be nicely groomed and you should be clean-shaven. Also, be sure to get a good night’s sleep the night before so that you do not come off as detached from the interview.
Your interviewer is going to ask questions about who you are and what you have accomplished. Be ready for questions about your successes and failures, and make sure you review your résumé. If you have included something on your résumé that occurred several years ago, make sure that you can discuss its relevance to you and your application.
Do Not Be Humble
Even though you might consider yourself a humble person, your business school interview is not the time to downplay your accomplishments. Talk yourself up. You are trying to sell yourself to this school. Every chance that you get, discuss your various accolades and your past leadership experience. Business schools do not want to produce future corporate peons—they want to produce the leaders of tomorrow.
Make sure you let your interviewer know what sets you apart from all the other applicants. You may have gotten good grades in school and hopefully your boss likes you, but what sets you apart?
Make Eye Contact
Whether your interview is in person or via a Skype conference, you should always maintain eye contact with your interviewer. This conveys confidence and is more professional.
Tips for a Skype Interview
If you live away from the school you are applying to, you will more than likely have your interview conducted on Skype. You will want to make a few quick preparations for this videoconference. First, if you are using your home computer, clean and remove the clutter that the camera can see. Your interviewer will get a little glimpse into your personal life. Make it a good one.
Second, even though your interview is on the Internet, still wear appropriate clothing. A suit jacket may not be needed, but a tie should be necessary. You should also make sure that you are engaged and make good eye contact with the interviewer. Being in two separate parts of the world can make it difficult to maintain constant attention. Also, do not be afraid to ask your interviewer to repeat a question. Our modern technology is great, but it still has a tendency to fail. It is better for you to completely understand what has been asked than to answer a question with something that is entirely unrelated.
And finally, since the admission officer on the other end cannot see what you are doing, it is helpful to have a little cheat sheet in front of you. You could write certain points that you definitely want to discuss. At the very least, you should have the questions you intend to ask your interviewer written down on a paper in front of you.
Have Questions for the Interviewer
At the end of most application and job interviews, you will be asked if you have any questions. What the interviewer does not want to hear from you is, “No. I’ve pretty much had all of my questions answered.”
Do not be silent. This is your chance to show extra interest in their school, and it will show that you have done some research. You should not ask a question that could be easily answered from a quick internet search. It should be something more substantial and in-depth.
Since you are applying to business school, ask something business related. For example, ask how the recent financial crisis has affected the coursework, or you could ask about the importance of teamwork in class. Make you do not ask any questions about scholarships or financial aid—that is something to worry about after you have been accepted.
Generally, two to three questions for your interviewer is acceptable.
Some Sample Questions
- Define social responsibility.
- What sets you apart from everyone else? Why are you different?
- How can your unique experiences and talents enhance our business school?
- Describe a time when you had to tell your supervisor about a problem or bad news. How did you handle the situation?
- Describe a time when you had to mediate a conflict at work or elsewhere.
- What experience most shaped your leadership style?
- Describe your career path up to this point and how it has led you here.
These are just a few of the many possible questions that you will be asked in your interview. The above questions will help you to start thinking outside the box of the “normal” interview questions that you may receive.
If you are first looking to apply to get your MBA, please read the following articles to help you through the process: