Interview Tips To Land Your Spot In B-School
Eye contact? You bet’cha!
Feet planted? Where else would they be?
All right, you’re ready to go. Go get ‘em!
Not so fast. Leaping before looking may work in the movies. When it comes to an interview – the audition – you need to take several steps before you come off as your best. As Stacy Blackman, a long-time MBA admissions consultant, shares in a new column, the interview is a time to show off your “personality, leadership qualities and motivation for pursuing an MBA.” At the same time, it is an opportunity to stretch your narrative beyond the confines of your application. To do this successfully, you need both finesse and preparation.
For one, advises, Aringo MBA Admissions Consultants, learn about who will be interviewing you. “Check LinkedIn. Talk to your friends and colleagues who have attended or are attending the program, as they may know the interviewer…Remember, with the exception of schools that conduct ‘blind’ interviews, often the interviewer knows your profile well. Shouldn’t you know hers or his?” To build further rapport, Blackman encourages applicants to ask interviewers, particularly alumni, about their experiences. “[They] will especially like any questions about clubs or activities they were part of, while current students can provide a great perspective on what they wish they had known, or the most interesting aspect of their MBA experience.”
In fact, asking questions is paramount in an interview – the right questions, that is. They reflect the depth of your interest – and your research, says Blackman. “Try coming up with a list of questions and see how many of them you can answer after a simple search of the school’s website. If you can’t easily find an answer, that’s probably a good topic to discuss in your interview.” Questions are also key to narrowing the discussion to an adcom’s priorities, along with building a dialogue in the process. “Many interviews will begin with some version of “Tell me about yourself” or “Walk me through your resume,” Blackman observes. “It can be hard to know where to begin with this. One approach is to simply ask, “Where would you like me to begin?” As an applicant, you shouldn’t be afraid to ask for further clarification, as this also makes the interview more of a conversation.”
Never forget, the questions that adcoms are asking themselves isn’t just whether your can handle the core quant courses or have ambitions aligned with the school’s mission. They are also wondering what you bring that’s different adds Blackman. “Schools are trying to create a well-rounded class of individuals. They want to know that you’re bringing personal interests to their campus that you’ll share with other classmates. So you should tell them about your recent scuba diving trip in Belize, your role as the food and wine connoisseur among friends, your love for historical fiction, your favorite college class in evolutionary biology, and your opinions on globalization.”
And such details don’t just supply color to your profile. If positioned correctly, they can suggest intangibles you possess that can fill potential gaps. “Interviewers should be able to imagine you as the classmate who will organize trips, plan dinners, start a book club, etc.,” Blackman adds. “They don’t want to think that you are just about business and academics all of the time.”
Above all, concludes Aringo, leave some room for improvisation. “Be prepared to answer the all-important questions of why you want to study an MBA and why you want to study at the school in question in a way that supports your application narrative, but avoid responding as if you’re reciting your essay. Doing so will give the impression that you do not know yourself, do not know the school, or both.”
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