An MBA phone interview is the next best option when paying a visit to the school’s campus is difficult and when there are no alumni or school representatives in your area. And while officially b-schools weigh in-person and phone interviews equally, phone interviewees may need to work a little harder to connect with their interviewers and leave a lasting impression.
I recommend that you follow these 4 tips to help you make the most of your phone interview and optimize your chances of getting into your top-choice MBA program.
- Dress to impress. It’s true that your interviewer won’t know whether you’re wearing a suit and tie or your polar bear pajamas and fuzzy slippers, but YOU will know. People tend to act a certain way based on the way that they’re dressed. If you wear your old PJs during your phone interview, you may reveal, through your language and tone, a lack of seriousness. Taking the time to dress up for your phone interview will have an effect on the tone and manner in which you conduct yourself during the interview – that of seriousness and professionalism. (If your phone interview includes video, then I hope it is obvious that you dress to impress.)
- Schedule right. If you’re not a morning person, don’t choose the 8AM time slot as you may be groggy and incoherent. If you know your kids come home at 3PM and wreak havoc all over the house, don’t schedule your interview at that time either. Make sure you choose a time that makes sense, and pay attention to time zones to make sure that you are ready at the right time.
- Practice, practice, practice. Just because you’re not meeting in person doesn’t mean that you get to slack off during the pre-interview practice phase. Maybe you don’t need to work on your firm handshake or winning smile, but the rest of your interview prep will be the same.
- Make sure you’re ready logistically. You don’t want to be apologizing for dropped calls because of poor reception or lack of battery with your cell, nor do you want to worry about a bad internet connection during an online call. Use the right equipment – a hard-wired phone with a headset. Using a headset will help you focus on the interview rather than on shifting around so your neck, hand, and arm don’t get tired. While putting the phone on speaker may seem like a good solution to the body tension problem, I suggest avoiding that route altogether as you risk your interviewer hearing you as if through a tunnel or underwater, not to mention that it may let in unwanted background noises. Not a great way to make a great impression. If you live abroad and don’t have a local line, you and your interviewer may decide that a Skype or VOIP call is the best option – in such a case, make sure that your internet connectivity is strong, that you’re sitting in the best spot in your house to receive the signal, and again, that you have a good headset so that you don’t need to use the computer mic and speakers.
Finally, don’t worry. Adcoms understand that not everyone is in a situation that allows for in-person meetings. If you simply can’t manage the travel (time-wise or money-wise), then go ahead and take the school up on its phone interview offer. Prep for your MBA interview and you’ll do great!
Once you’ve completed your interview, be sure to come back to Accepted and share your interview experiences to help others prepare for their big day. And now through April 1, 2012, for every interview questionnaire you fill out, you’ll receive an entry in our MBA Interview Give & Get drawing — you could win one of twelve $30 gift cards to Amazon.com, Apple.com, and Starbucks. Submit your interview stories now!