Preparing for your b-school interviews

February 09, 2015 | by Matt Symonds

With many schools now extending interview invitations, now is a great time to get ready for your upcoming interviews. One of the most useful interview tips that we can provide is to prepare well in advance! As former admissions directors at top MBA programs, we interviewed thousands of applicants and it was always pretty clear who had done their homework on our programs and who arrived unprepared. The MBA interview is your chance to convey key information about yourself to admissions as well as an opportunity for the school to get to know you and to assess your fit with their program. While the interview can be a source of anxiety, we’d like to share some tips to make the interview less daunting.

In our video, Top Tips to Prepare for your Interview, former Assistant Director of Career Services at Harvard Business School (HBS) Malvina Miller Complainville shares a few of her favorite tips. Her first tip is to prepare in advance by knowing your subject matter. You want to be very clear about why you need an MBA and specifically, why would an MBA from a particular school be the right match. Just researching a school online for the basics is not enough. You want to really spend time digging deep into specific pages of interest on the schools’ websites and watch school videos, read blogs, and get to know some of the professors in your areas of interest. Reaching out to students and alumni is also important and you will gain key insights that you can speak about with your interviewer.  During your interaction with your interviewers, it should be obvious that you are serious about their school and that you have taken the time to get to know their MBA programs.

Another tip is to convey key messages about yourself by thinking about five key pieces of information that you want to get across during the interview. As your interviewer asks you questions, you can find ways to communicate each of these points so that you don’t leave the interview feeling like you missed out on sharing something important. You should also practice how to deliver these key messages so that you are concise and get to the point without spending too much time on unnecessary details.

Malvina’s third point is to prepare for unexpected and difficult interview questions. Be honest about your weaknesses and be prepared to answer questions that might arise around these. For example, if your undergraduate GPA was on the lower end, think about how you would explain this without excuses. You want to also think about how you have been proactive in addressing any weaknesses and be ready to speak about these.

You should also be prepared to ask intelligent questions since most interviewers will allot time at the end to answer a few questions. Be smart about what you ask and don’t ask very basic questions that can be answered easily with information available online or in the program brochure. Asking a well-thought out question is another way to develop positive rapport with your interviewer and can convey your level of interest in the program.

Last, be sure to practice. This can help you hone your messages and will give you more confidence in responding to potential questions that will come up. Don’t forget about non-verbal cues like eye contact, body language, and posture as these can also influence the impression you make.

To hear more on Malvina’s interviewing tips, click here to watch her video.

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