There are loads of articles about how to prepare for your MBA interview (and you should definitely read up on that info), but here we’re going to focus on 5 things to do DURING your interview to help you make an impactful first impression.
- Dress to impress. If this first tip seems obvious to you, then congratulations on having more sense than some of the MBA applicants I’ve worked with in the past. The standard for MBA interview fashion is business casual. Don’t try and “dress up” a pair of jeans; don’t wear sneakers; and style your hair conservatively (dye back the blue streaks and go easy on the spiky Mohawk). Dressing well won’t just help show your interviewer that you are a professional person who’s taking this interview seriously, but will also help boost your confidence – those who dress well tend to carry themselves well too…which leads to our second tip…
- Exude confidence. To succeed in business school (and certainly in the business world at large) you need to throw meekness and timidity out the window and embrace your strong and confident self. Prove to your interviewer that you’re cut out for a future of success by presenting that winning smile, firm handshake, and clear, confident answers. That being said, nobody likes cockiness. Avoid it at all costs. (See tip #5 for more on the importance of politeness.)
- Don’t rush. Stumped by a toughie? That’s bound to happen during your interview at some point, no matter how prepared you are. There’s nothing wrong with pausing before answering, or even saying something like, “That’s a great question. Let me think about that for a minute.” You want your answers to be thoughtful, accurate, and as specific as possible. If pausing for a few moments will help you come up with an answer that fits that bill, then taking your time is the right thing to do. There’s no need to feel like you need to rush into an explosive answer the very second your interviews stops to breathe.
- Be succinct and to the point. You’re going to need to find a balance here between offering complete and detailed answers and being brief. You don’t want to talk your interviewer’s ear off; not only does that make for boring conversation, but it may also prevent your interviewer from asking all of her questions. Limit your answers to just a few minutes each. If more information is needed, your interviewer will ask for it.
- Be polite. Another obvious one for some people, but not (unfortunately) for all. You should be friendly and courteous at all times during the interview. Start and end with a handshake; never interrupt your interviewer when she’s speaking; don’t criticize the quality or quantity of questions; don’t challenge her when she says the interview is over.
Explore the MBA Interview Feedback Database to help you prepare for your interview. By reading about other people’s experiences, you’ll know what to expect for your interview, and then when you’re done interviewing, you can pay it forward by sharing your interview experiences and insights with others.