Once you have submitted your applications to your preferred schools, you are anxiously awaiting an interview call. And once you have the interview call, the anxiety levels are higher. A piece of advice that we always give our students is that they should not wait until the interview call for the preparation of the interview. Often schools do not give a lot of time to prepare. Trying to reschedule also does not help as it might clash with your interviews with other schools.
The interview is a critical part of the evaluation process, more because it gives the school an opportunity to validate your application and get the truth from the ‘horse’s mouth’. Schools are also now emphasizing on video interviews. This also gives an opportunity to judge your application based on discussion rather than reading texts in the application essays.
Research and Prepare
Interview preparation cannot be done in a day or two. It should be continuous process right from the day you start your application. Your preparation should focus on marrying your qualities, credentials and applications to the school’s requirements. The schools do not want perfect candidates – if you are perfect do you need an MBA anyway? What they look for is someone who is fit for purpose.
- Do the school’s values, culture and beliefs align with yours?
- Do you believe you can add value to the community and class of students. If so, how?
- Have you met the alumni? Attended school information events? Engaged in the school forums?
- Have you been following the schools website for regular updates?
- Have you researched the faculty and understood who are all the professors in your area of interest?
- Have you subscribed to the newsletters and are following the school on social media?
If you have checked all the boxes above then you are set for preparation for your interviews. One should also keep yourselves up to date by reading the latest publications and stay abreast of the latest trends and technologies. This will give the interviewer confidence that you are progress oriented.
Tell your story
Once you have prepared and researched the information, you will need to stitch this information into a story that can be narrated. Written and verbal communication is different. If you just happen to read your application essays, this will add no value to your interview.
Some people struggle to express themselves and end up stuttering or blank out. One should practice in front of the mirror and speak aloud the answers to these typical questions. If you make a mistake or blank out make note of the occasion and make notes for reference. This way you can plug the holes and smoothen the process.
Some of the questions to rehearse include:
- Tell us about yourself
- Walk us through your CV
- Why have you chosen this course?
- What are your short term and long term career goals?
- Why have you chosen this school or university?
- How will you contribute to the community after course completion?
- Do you have any leadership experience?
Know your application
It is very important to know your CV and application like the back of your hand. The admission committee is usually thorough with your application. Know your resume and application inside out. Sometimes the interviewer will ask questions right out of your applications. Some schools prefer providing an interview essay and discuss that essay during the interview – even in this case it is better to be in sync with your application and highlight how you will present your arguments.
Decide your selling points and exhibit specific examples to highlight the same. Speak about the big picture and then delve into the details. Follow the SCQA technique (i.e. Situation, Complication, Question, and Answer) to answer the questions.
Remember, it’s an opportunity for you to speak the most. The interviewer will expect you to speak the most, give examples and have an engaging conversation.
Practice and more practice
A school’s interview process could be an in-person, or video or telephonic. It can be a formal as well as informal. Depending on the style, you can keep practicing. Use a mirror, sit in front of your friends or parents, capture your own video. The key is to speak aloud your thoughts. You may know your application well but it needs a voice.