- Engage with stories and specifics. When possible (and it’s really almost always possible) you should tell short stories that illustrate the points you are trying to make. Instead of “I played an active role in my college sorority,” you can say, “As an active member of Pi Beta Phi, I organized a local literacy club that matched sorority members with 6-8-year-old girls from underprivileged backgrounds.” Similarly, if you’re discussing an accomplishment or achievement from work, remember the engaging power of details when it comes to numbers. Instead of, “I was team leader for Project X,” say, “I led 9 interns in a 6-month-long project that generated 4.5% more revenue than the previous year’s team of 16 people.”
- Don’t rush your answers. Pausing for a few moments after a question is asked to collect your thought is perfectly fine – in fact, better than fine if it’ll help you come up with a more thoughtful, specific, and accurate answer than were you to just explode with a rambling answer the second the interviewer stops to take a breath. It’s even okay to say something like, “That’s a good question. Let me think for a second.” Of course, you don’t want to do this for every question!
- Be brief. You want your interviewer to get to the end of her list of questions before midnight, so while your answers should be complete and detailed, you should always make sure you’re not rambling. Try and limit your answers to a few minutes each. If your interviewer wants more information, she’ll ask for it.
- Be polite. You’re trying to impress your interviewer, so please be polite and courteous at all times. Begin and end with a friendly handshake, smile at all times, and try and match the demeanor/mood of your interviewer with your own demeanor/mood. For this last tip, I don’t mean that you should act like someone whom you are not, but if your interviewer is friendly and chatty, then you should try and turn on the charm and wittiness; if she’s serious and to the point, then you should attempt to bring those traits to the interview.
Want more MBA interview tips? Next week I’ll share some thoughts on post-interview do’s and don’ts.
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!