How To Crack The B-School Interview

Posted March 28, 2014 by
Smiling female MBA student holding something

Smiling female MBA student holding something. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

Are you currently a aspiring B-school student? Then you must have decided to do an MBA instead of a pgdm. If you have already crossed the first hurdle by sending in your essays, cracked the GMAT scores and created a stellar resume, then now it is time to ace the next important hurdle of the B-school race: the interview. This is crucial part of the admission process and you should pat yourself on the back for having made it this far. However, don’t break out the bubbly just yet. Out of the thousands of interview calls, only a few make it to the actual course; about half.

If you are wondering how to put out your best for the interview, then this is what you should pay attention to.

Preparation is key

While many might tell you to be your natural self and go in without too much preparation, remember it is essential. Have a basic outline for the standard questions which include your career path, goals for the future, the reason for doing an MBA, the reason for choosing this school, etc.

However, you should also prepare to give informative and concise answers. Before the interview, think about 5 vital facts that you want to convey during the interview. While the interview is on, keep a mental checklist. This will ensure that you don’t have regrets later about not having said something you felt was essential. This is being pro-active.

Practice and more practice

If you are doing mock interviews, make sure you keep at it till you don’t sound rehearsed but natural and confident. Make sure that you are no longer grappling to find the right words for your answers. Your answers should stimulate a lively discussion and conversation. It shouldn’t be just a one-way question-answer process.  Remember that an MBA interview is way more challenging and rigorous than a pgdm interview.

Listen actively

An interview is just not about you jumping in with the right answers. Focus first on what you are being asked and then go in for the answer. Don’t keep thinking about your pre-prepared answer that you lose out on an important aspect of the question. Also, it is fine to stop for a beat after the question and then start responding. You wont be marked negatively if you take a pause. That also prevents a rushed and incoherent response.

The tone should be right

It is important that you strike a suitable tone. At all costs avoid sounding flippant, arrogant or sarcastic. Just because your interviewer is friendly doesn’t mean you lower your guard and say inappropriate things. Don’t try for humour if it isn’t your natural thing. Remember to be humble and honest at all times.

Give examples of your character which are relevant to the school. This could include team building, leadership, candour, etc.

Keep calm and prepare for a surprise

Be prepared to think on your feet. The interviewers will want to see whether you can handle unexpected situations and surprises and how you react/respond to them. In such moments, it’s vital that you don’t lose your cool at any cost.

Don’t ramble

They have already read your lengthy essays. Now keep your responses relevant and focused. Don’t go off the rails and keep rambling about irrelevant things. Use examples and remember that this isn’t a place to vent.

Don’t forget the basics of turning up on time, looking neat and most importantly, switching off that cell phone while you are inside.

About the author

Sheena James worked as a professor in a business and pgdm school before she joined a MNC as a graduate scheme selector. She has worked and interacted with many students and graduates. Sheena likes to spend her free time with her two dogs.

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