Many top business schools now require or encourage applicants to interview on-campus or with an alum or program representative in your area. No matter what the school's policy is, if you have the option between interviewing on-campus or in your area, we recommend making the trip. In addition to demonstrating your strong interest in the program by taking the time to visit, you will also have time to tour the school and speak with students - hopefully, before your interview.
Treat your business school interview the same way you would a job interview. Prepare well and dress appropriately. If you would like help preparing, the experts at Go4Bschool provide one-on-one mock interviews [link to interview service page] with preparation and feedback.
provide the best opportunity for you to present the aspects of yourself and your experiences on which you want the admissions committee to focus. Keep in mind that you should not provide your life's story. Instead, you should use specific stories/examples to portray particular points about who you are. Before you start writing you essays
, you should think about the picture of yourself that you want to paint and make sure that your essays
and the rest of your application fit this persona. Think of yourself as a product that needs to marketed. What attributes do you have? What makes you unique? Why did you switch jobs? What are your goals? Why should the admissions staff offer you a place in next year's class? You must define an image of yourself in order to present yourself and your goals in a clear, consistent way. Even if you are not planning to apply until the second or third application round, it is wise to obtain a list of each school's essay questions when they are made available in the late summer/early fall. This will allow you to start thinking about your self-marketing approach.
It is important to find out the interviewing policy of each MBA program that you are considering. Typically, there are four interviewing policies that fit all business schools:
- Interviews are requiredIt is particularly common for MBA programs that boast smaller enrollments, a strong community, and/or a team-oriented environment to require their applicants to interview. Usually, they want to make sure that each applicant is a good fit for the school. In addition, admissions officers want to make sure that a person with a strong application also has the social skills to get along with his fellow classmates and the interview skills to land an internship and, ultimately, a job.
- Interviews are by invitation only
Business schools that invite certain candidates to interview usually have one of two motivations: they interview all applicants they are seriously considering or they interview applicants who are on the borderline of admission. Either way, it is important to make a great impression, show why you are a perfect candidate for admission, and explain why the school is a good fit.
- Interviews are recommended
If a school recommends that applicants interview, then you better interview! Unless you have an extremely good reason why you cannot or should not interview, then it is certainly in your best interest to do so.
- No interviews are conducted
Even if the school does not interview its candidates, you may want to visit the campus [link to: http://plexcomols.com/test/cas/business/decide1.shtml] and attend a class and/or information session before you submit your application. Contact the admissions office to find out what is offered to visitors.
Making a Good First Impression
As you are aware, first impressions are important. In addition to preparing what you plan to say, it is important that you look tidy and professional. You should dress in business formal attire (men: suit and tie; women: suit with stockings and closed-toed shoes) and carry either a nice, leather briefcase or portfolio.
When the interviewer approaches you, be sure to smile and extend your hand for a firm shake. Do not sit down until you are invited to do so.
Throughout the interview, be aware of your body language - sit up straight, lean towards the interviewer, make regular but not excessive eye contact, use appropriate hand gestures, etc.
Questions to Expect
Most interviews typically ask some or all of the following questions, so it is important to be prepared for them. Even if the interviewer does not explicitly ask these questions, it may be in your best interest to work the answers to these questions into your interview.
- "Walk me through your resume" - Be sure that you can do this in a concise way that highlights your strengths.
- "Why do you like our program?" - You should have specific, unique reasons why you are applying to the program. You will probably be asked a similar question in your application essays. If possible, try to avoid using language from the website and brochure. You may be asked what other business schools you are applying to. Be ready to answer this question and make sure that there is some logical and consistent reason why you are applying to each school.
- "What do you like to do in your free time?" - You may be intelligent, but admissions officers want to know that you are also well-rounded and will get along with your classmates and participate in/lead school activities.
- "Why do you want/need an MBA now?" - Another question that is likely to be one of the application essay questions.
- "What can you contribute to your class?" - With this question, admissions officers are asking you why you are unique. Make sure your answer is consistent with your overall self-marketing strategy.
- "Tell me about a time that you experienced a conflict with a co-worker and how you resolved it." - You are likely to be asked a question about your relationship with your co-workers and/or how you work in a team environment. This question can come in many forms. In the case of a negative example, always spin the story into a positive experience and show that you learned a lesson, dealt with the situation professionally, and took initiative.
- "Is there anything you would like to ask me?" -- You should ask at least one question and the answer to it should not be found on the school's website or in its brochures. Ask something thoughtful that reflects your interest in the school and its students, professors, atmosphere, etc.
These sample questions are only the tip of the iceberg. Prepare yourself the best that you can and walk in the room with confidence. Even if a question throws you for a loop, remain confident. If you are stuck, take a moment to say something like, "That's a great question" and take a little time to think about your answer instead of nervously blurting something out.