Congratulations on getting that much awaited interview call! This call signifies that shining through thousands of applicants, by way of meaningful essays and other aspects of your applications you have been able to create an impression, but, remember, there’s still a long way to go!
Interview is a great opportunity to make the admissions committee understand how well you fit with the school’s values, approach, and atmosphere.
The interview is a means for the admissions committee to judge your personality and communication skills and to ensure that you are well versed with what the program has to offer and why it is the right MBA program for you.
For international candidates, the interviews are usually Skype based.
PREPARING FOR THE INTERVIEW
What to Wear
A business attire is appropriate for all type of interviews; face to face or Skype. You should avoid wearing strong-smelling perfume or cologne in case of face to face interviews.
The interview questions are likely to revolve around your personal, professional and academic experiences. It would also include a few questions to discover your knowledge about the school and the program.
The interviewer is likely to begin with the usual, “Tell me about yourself” question. This question is your opportunity to provide a glimpse of your profile, briefly talking about your major accomplishments, both professional and personal.
This conversation is likely to be followed by a few career goals questions such as “Why do you need an MBA?”, “Why now?” etc. Be well versed with the reasons and goals you have mentioned in your essays to answer these questions aptly.
Next on list would be school-specific questions such as “Why Chicago Booth?” and “Why this program?”
Before appearing for the interview, you must undertake thorough research to know about the school and the program. Identify the programs, centers, clubs, classes, professors, extracurricular opportunities, and other resources the school offers and be ready to talk about the ones that match with your aptitude, interests and goals.
MBA applicants are strongly judged on their leadership potential. So, be prepared to answer questions like, “Tell me about a success” or “Tell me about a failure.” Be prepared to provide information in these areas beyond what is presented in your resume. Be prepared with relevant stories. You may have already mentioned such stories in your admission essays. Read them thoroughly before appearing for the interview. The facts should match!
While pursuing their MBA abroad, candidates are expected to perform in a team-based environment. So, interviewers often ask personal questions like, ‘How would your friends describe you?’ Your answers to these questions help them understand whether you are good match for their environment or not.
DURING THE INTERVIEW
They Are Expecting a Conversation with a Human NOT a Robot
It’s good to be prepared, but bad to be over-prepared. Memorizing answers to specific questions and conveying them as a robot when asked is a put-off to the interviewer. It sounds fake. It’s best to be at ease and present your true self to the interviewer. Keep your stories ready in your head, but memorizing them word by word would make you lose on spontaneity.
Practicing for the interview through mock interviews with friends, mentor, family members or colleagues is a great idea. This will make you more comfortable with the process.
Few Challenging Questions to Tackle
- Why should we take you?
This is where you need to impress them with your strengths and fitment with the program & the school. Be ready with one or two of your strengths as well as a few stories which can validate the strengths. For instance, if you choose to say ‘because as a deft team-player, I will be able make significant contribution to the team-based environment of the school, be prepared with some real-life incidents where you showcased team skills.
Research on the school beforehand and find out what aspects of the program as well the school you are able to relate with the most. When faced with this question, you can showcase your research through intelligent answers.
- To which other schools are you applying?
It’s best to mention only peer schools, i.e. schools with more or less similar ranking, else the interviewing school may appear to be a ‘safe’ choice, and not a desired one.
- If you are not accepted to any business school this year, what will you do?
Confidence is the key here. An intelligent individual always has a back-up plan and this is what they are testing you here on. You can answer by detailing your plans for upscaling your skills, if the plan for MBA fails this year. You can even talk about your next career move. And, don’t forget to mention your intent to re-apply.
- What are your weaknesses? or What have you learned from a failure?
No one is perfect. It’s definitely a sign of maturity to be aware of your weaknesses. Be honest with the interviewer. As you share your weaknesses also indicate how you plan to work upon them. This indicates a positive approach and tenacity to grow.
- What have we not covered that you wish I had asked about?
Whoa! Wasn’t this the moment you have been waiting for? This is your chance to share your best accomplishments, greatest strengths and most desirable attributes. Keep your strongest stories ready.
- What other questions do you have for me?
Always have a few thoughtful questions prepared about your target program. This would indicate your genuine interest in the program & the school.
Things to Do to Give a Better Performance
- Avoid hurling into a story: Don’t be over enthusiastic to share your stories. Give the question a thought and then begin with the story you find the most appropriate.
- Sipping water: You will have a glass of water at your disposal. Taking small sips of the water in between the questions can help you get buffer time to think about the answers. It can also help you to slow down at the right pace.
- Avoid apologizing or rambling: If you are stumped with a question, instead of rambling or apologizing, inform the interviewer that you are having trouble with the question and request if you can answer it later. Better to accept than lament.
- Forget what you couldn’t answer: You may have stumped on a question, but don’t let that spoil the rest of the interview. Move on and give your best to the rest of the questions.
AFTER THE INTERVIEW
It is a good practice to send a brief thank you email after your interview. Don’t delay! It is ideal to send the note the same day or the next.