Are you ready for your b-school interviews?

November 02, 2016 | by Matt Symonds

In the coming weeks, round 1 admission interview invitations will begin winging their way to a select group of lucky recipients. Are you ready?

As former admissions directors at top MBA programs, we interviewed thousands of applicants and it was always pretty clear who had done their homework 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. So how can you maximize your chances of securing a class seat?

Tip #1: Prepare in advance by knowing your subject matter AND your interviewer. You want to be very clear about why you need an MBA and specifically, why an MBA from that particular school would be the right match. Just researching a school online for the basics is not enough. You want to really spend time digging deep into the school and watch school videos, read school blogs, and get to know some of the professors in your areas of interest. Reaching out to students and alumni is also important and will help you gain key insights you can share with your interviewer.  It should be obvious that you are serious and enthusiastic about the school and that you have taken the time to get to know the MBA program and the school’s community. In addition, make sure you do your due diligence and conduct some research on your interviewer – especially with alumni interviews – before you meet e.g. check out their profile on LinkedIn, do a Google search, etc.

Tip #2: 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 key points so that you don’t leave 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. Otherwise you might find yourself rambling off topic. We suggest using the STAR (Situation, Task, Actions, Results) approach for many behavioral interview questions. If you are in a situation where you do find yourself rambling, take a deep breath and try to re-focus on wrapping up your point.

Tip #3: 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 share this with your interviewer.

Tip #4:  Practice and do a mock interview with a colleague, friend, or your Fortuna Coach. Speaking and rehearsing out loud is completely different than practicing in your head. This can help you hone your message, without stumbling, and will give you more confidence.

Tip #5: Dress smart, be on time, and be mindful of non-verbals. Make sure you look the part by wearing suitable business attire and plan to arrive early. Don’t forget about non-verbal cues: make good eye contact, use positive body language and confident posture – these can all greatly influence the impression you make. Try to avoid fillers like ‘ums’ and ‘ahs’.  And don’t forget to send a personal thank you note within 24 hours of the interview.

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