It’s your job to demonstrate to the adcom that you stand out from the applicant pool and are exactly the person they want in their next MBA class. In this series, you’ll learn how to dig deep to unearth your unique character traits, experiences, skills, and talents and bring them to the forefront of your application, so that when the adcom pick up your file, they’re hooked from the very first moment.
So many articles focus on how to prepare for your business school interview (and you should read those articles!), but here I’m going to talk about things you should do DURING the actual interview. Not what you should say, but how you should say it. How should you answer the interview questions? How should you act towards the interviewer? How can you make the best impression?
And most importantly, what can you do to highlight your competitive advantage and show the adcom that you are an incredibly unique individual that will contribute to their next class in terms of talent, career potential, and diversity?
Use these 3 tips to help you showcase your competitive value:
1. Visualize an outline when structuring your answers.
You want to answer the questions as clearly as possible, providing all necessary information in an engaging fashion without rambling or boring the interviewer. Being prepared with key stories and experiences will certainly help reduce your “ers” and “ums,” but staying focused and organized during the interview itself will really help you answer the interview questions in full without veering off topic. Visualize an outline as you formulate your answer to ensure that you go from point to point. If asked “What are your post-MBA goals?” don’t begin your answer with “I was born on an army base in Guatemala,” but with “I have three short-term goals and one long-term goal.” Then proceed to elaborate on each of those goals.
This is particularly important if English is not your first language or if you have key distinguishing stories or ideas you want to share – you don’t want to miss an opportunity to highlight your uniqueness simply because you got lost in your answer.
2. Be confident.
Confidence is essential for b-school and real-world business success, and your interviewer will want to know that you possess the confidence necessary to excel in both. Plus, if you’re confident, you’ll most likely do a better job saying what needs to be said in the most effective manner possible.
Nerves are often responsible for tripping you up or causing temporary interview answer amnesia. It’s hard to fake confidence – note how I said “Be Confident” rather than “Act Confidently.” Easier said than done? Yes. But it’s not impossible to convince yourself that you’re confident.
A few tricks:
• Breathe. Take some deep breaths while waiting for your interview and remember to continue breathing once your interview begins.
• Begin and end your interview with a firm handshake.
• Dress the part of a professional business person, and you’ll have an easier time stepping into that role.
• Use positive imagery. Thinking happy, confident thoughts and visualizing yourself in a comfortable place or accomplishing or experiencing impressive achievements will help your body relax, enabling you to convey a true confidence.
Remember, if you believe you’re confident, so will your interviewer.
3. Follow your interviewer’s cues.
If your interviewer is talkative and bubbly, then he or she will probably appreciate if you work up your chattiness and humor. If, on the other hand, you end up with a slow-talking, no-nonsense interviewer, then you may want to skip the small talk and jump right into a focused no-frills interview.
Being organized, intuitive, and confident are skills that some people are born with and that others work a lifetime to achieve – but no matter who you are, these essential interview skills require practice. Accepted’s experienced advisors can guide you through the interview process with our Mock Interview Packages. Prep with the best and ace those interviews!
Read the complete 9 Secrets to Standing Out in Your MBA Application series for more tips on how to create a compelling application that highlights your unique strengths, character traits, and talents.