Posted May 15, 2014 by

How to Be the ‘Total’ MBA Applicant – Including Excelling in the Interview

Ryan Hickey

Ryan Hickey, Managing Editor of Peterson’s & EssayEdge

As MBA programs become increasingly competitive, it’s more important than ever to be exceptional in every aspect of the application process: essays, resume and the interview. Because of this, each part deserves an equal amount of your time and attention.

The essays and resume are the parts of the application over which you have the most control, which is why most people focus on these two areas. However, you can do more to prepare for the interview than you might initially think. Follow this guide to become a triple threat in the MBA application process.

Essays that Tell a Complete Story

In all likelihood, your MBA program will ask you to submit more than one essay. The group of essays is one of the main ways that MBA applications are different from those of most other graduate programs. Programs typically provide very specific prompts and want both honest and meaningful responses.

This means that admissions officers want each essay to be distinctive. Don’t wait for the interview to show that you are a three-dimensional person. Let them see you demonstrating your value to the organization, but also let them see you working as an effective part of a team, accepting difficult feedback or a major setback, and managing personality differences.

Customizing Your Resume

One of the biggest mistakes that MBA applicants make is submitting the exact same resume to different programs. While you don’t need to start from scratch every time, it is important to tailor your resume to each program. Depending on the focus of the MBA program, you might need to alter your statement at the beginning of the resume.

Also, go through each entry. Should you move certain bullet points up or down to shape your resume to the style of the school? Considering all the time that you will spend on your essays, taking one hour to work on your resume can pay off significantly in your applications.

Easy as 1-2-3: Making a Major Impression in the Interview

Whether it is out of fear or overconfidence, the interview is often the aspect of the MBA process that gets the least amount of attention from applicants. Although preparation does require a time commitment, the genuine sense of self-confidence that you will have during the interview will resonate with the admissions officers.

1. Do some reconnaissance work.
Somewhere in your network is someone who has recently gone through the application process at your chosen school. This could be a friend, fellow employee or an alumnus that you met during an information session. While the specific questions will be different, you can get a good idea of the type of questions asked and other basic information such as whether the interviews tend to be more formal or more relaxed.

2. Use that information to create a mock set of questions.
If your network can provide you with the exact questions that they were asked, prepare answers for those. You never know: the question might get recycled, and you’ll have a quick response ready. However, also think in more general terms about the topics of the questions. Choose one or two anecdotes that demonstrate leadership, overcoming obstacles and teamwork that you could use for a broad variety of questions.

3. Enlist your friends for a practice run (or two!)
You’re going to have to complete the interview in order to get accepted to an MBA program, so this is not the time to be shy. Also, having your friends around can help you get rid of some nervous jitters so that you can be calm and collected for your actual interview.

Becoming the total package MBA applicant is probably going to take more of your time than you originally imagined. However, the extra effort can pay off in the form of acceptance to your top choice MBA program.

Ryan Hickey is the Managing Editor of Peterson’s & EssayEdge and is an expert in many aspects of college, graduate, and professional admissions. A graduate of Yale University, Ryan has worked in various admissions capacities for nearly a decade, including writing test-prep material for the SAT, AP exams, and TOEFL, editing essays and personal statements, and consulting directly with applicants.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Posted in Advice for Candidates, Applying, Grad School, Interviewing, Resumes | Tagged Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,