The average MBA interview lasts about 45 minutes. In those 45 minutes, youll need to convince the school that they were correct in showing interest in you and that youll be able to contribute something meaningful to the cohort that theyre designing for the next year. While the essays tend to be the part of the MBA application process that causes the most trouble for applicants, the interview tends to cause the most confusion as applicants struggle to know how to prepare.
Over the years, weve developed some proven techniques to help applicants breeze through the interview for their top choice MBA program. Follow our Five Ps to guide you in acing your MBA interviews.
Theres no way around it. In order to have the answers you need on hand, youll need to prepare. Know your resume back and forththis means youll also need to prepare anecdotes about times youve experienced failure, faced ethical dilemmas or received negative feedback. In addition, have a set of questions that youd like to ask the interviewer. If you can work them into the interview, great. If not, then the interviewer will likely ask you at the end of the interview if theres anything else youd like to know about the program. You can ask your questions then.
The anecdotes that you choose to prepare for the interview might sound great in your head or look good on paper, but you wont know how theyre going to perform during the interview until you practice saying them aloud. You shouldnt memorize your anecdotes or your responses to likely questions in the interview processyoull sound stilted and a little fake. However, you should have the basic storyline down pat and be able to recite the anecdotes fluently.
During the interview, you should be confident, calm and personable. One of the biggest mistakes that applicants make in their MBA interviews is getting too conversational: using body language that is too casual and going off on tangents in an attempt to connect with the interviewer. Theres a difference between personal and personable, and you want to err on the side of caution in an interview. If youre not sure if you should say something, dont. Better to be a little too formal than a little too casual. Additionally, if the interviewer seems to be returning to the same issue repeatedly, stay calm, answer the question honestly and concisely, and then take the opportunity to begin moving the interview in another direction.
As stated above, have some questions ready yourself. Also, you have the power to guide the interview in the direction you choose so you can make sure to cover the aspects of your background that you most want to convey to the interviewer. The transitions you use dont need to be clever, they just need to flow with the conversation. If theres something you cant work into the body of the interview, be sure to bring it up at the end.
Above all else, the things you talk about in the interview should be meaningful. Leadership, management and contribution should all be themes that are covered in your responses to the interviewers questions. Depending on your background, you may want to make sure to discuss things like working in cross-national or cross-functional teams or entrepreneurship. What do you think is essential for the interviewer to know about you?
Although the real things you need in order to ace the MBA interview might be much less glamorous than you have heard, going into the interview room ready to deliver can give you a calm confidence that will be obvious to those around you. Youll transform something that is a nerve wracking experience for others into an intense but enjoyable experience where you learned more about the program and the school saw how you will be an asset to their program.
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