“MBA Admissions: Preparing For The Interview” is the latest post in our series Navigate the MBA Maze.
Here are three key tips on how to present yourself during those crucial face-to-face minutes.
1. Structure Your Answers. Structure helps your interviewer see where you’re going with your answer and helps you remember where you’re going, too. So when they ask, “Why do you want to attend Harvard/Stanford/Kellogg?” don’t say, “Well, I was born in Florida in 1984, and . . .” Instead, lay out a clear structure: “There are three primary reasons why this school is my top choice: curriculum, culture, and community.” After providing the structure upfront, provide details for each reason you mention. Not every interview answer requires an upfront structure (some are more story-oriented), but use one for those that lend themselves to it. You’ll be glad you did.
2. Project Confidence. Regardless of your general confidence level, do your best to clear your mind of doubt and believe that you deserve an offer. As you prepare for the interview remind yourself of your past achievements in challenging circumstances. And make sure your confidence doesn’t spill over into arrogance (“Well of course you should accept me because…”).
3. Read Your Interviewer. Some are high-energy. Some aren’t. Some like humor. Some don’t. Some are by-the-book. Some won’t ask a single question you’ve practiced for. While you can’t prepare for every single type of interviewer, you can adjust your style a bit to match theirs. Though schools stress that they seek objective opinions from their interviewers, we all know the reality: a large factor in interview performance is likeability, and interviewers like candidates who remind them of themselves. An even simpler strategy is to pay attention to clear cues from your interviewer— if they’re yawning and looking at their watch, you’re probably being too long winded or need to use more compelling examples; if they’re asking probing questions for everything you say, try including more details in your initial answers.
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