Susan has an average GMAT score, but her leadership across college, community, and career are significant. She also has glowing recommendations that address her below-average academic numbers. In an interview, she is articulate, dynamic, and likable. She knows exactly why she wants an MBA and is able to convey precisely why the Kellogg School of Management fits her goals. During the 45-minute conversation, she is able to communicate what is distinctive about her and win over her interviewer. Suffice it to say, she is admitted to her dream school despite having a GMAT score that is below the median of the entering class.
Candidates like Susan understand that an admissions interview does matter. It doesn’t make sense to invest days of work on your application and then drop the ball when it comes to the interview. Top business schools place a high premium on the interview to assess interpersonal skills and to clear up any misgivings they may have after reviewing your application. Even when an interview is by invitation only, 40 percent to 60 percent of candidates who are interviewed receive an admission offer. So you should view the interview as a practical step that brings you closer to your goal of getting into a first-class school.
What are the most common interview mistakes you need to avoid?
1. Don’t be disrespectful to the receptionist or students. Every encounter you have with someone affiliated with the MBA program is a potential interview.
2. Don’t try to dominate the interview. This is guaranteed to backfire. Let the interviewer cover all his or her questions.
3. Don’t talk too much or ramble. Be concise and to the point.
4. Don’t be too forward, and don’t ask the interviewer personal questions.
5. Don’t be too informal. Address the interviewer as Ms. or Mr. unless she specifically invites you to refer to her differently. (Applicable when interview is with board member/seasoned alumni and not a student).
6. Don’t forget to bring water to drink. Your mouth may get dry as a result of nervousness so be prepared.
7. Don’t interrupt the interviewer. Even if you have an unreasonable interviewer, you’ll get no bonus points for antagonizing him or her. Calmly wait for an opportunity to assert your points and brand message.
8. Don’t use slang or informal communication, even if the interviewer does. (Remember, you are the one being interviewed.)
9. Don’t communicate insecurity or lack of confidence by giving a weak handshake or having unsteady eye contact.
10. Don’t come off as unfriendly. Smile when appropriate. No one likes a sour puss.
11. Don’t be late for the interview. Aim to be there at least 15 minutes early.
12. Don’t dress inappropriately. Ill-fitting and outlandish attire send the wrong message about you and your brand.
13. Don’t be negative, and never complain or criticize someone you worked with or your company. Ditto for other MBA programs. It can send the wrong message about you.
14. Don’t worry too much about the interview. Focus on being yourself.
15. Don’t fall apart in the interview. No matter how stressful the interview is, keep it together. Crying in the interview signals a lack of toughness/maturity.
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