Three Tips for Your Best MBA Interview
Find out what makes a candidate stand out at an MBA interview.
This is my sixth year in MBA admissions and over that time I have interviewed close to 1,000 MBA candidates. I always enjoy the interview stage of the admissions process as it gives me the opportunity to engage with applicants, to meet the people whose essays and applications I’ve read, and find those students who will add value to our new MBA class. I'm often asked, “What makes a candidate stand out at an interview?” The answer is simple: “Good preparation.” So let me outline three ways you can prepare for your MBA interview.
1. Do Your Research: Before going anywhere near an MBA interview spend some time actively researching the program and school that you want to be a part of. Obviously you'll have already read the schools website, read about the program, and probably understand why you think it’s right for you. But make sure you go beyond this. Read social media pages on the school and on the program, find out what the school or program is posting about, and people are saying day to day on Twitter and Facebook. Read student blogs, understand what life in the program is really like and how you see yourself fitting into this. Look in the media. What research has the school published recently, what stories can be seen through news and academic websites? Speak to current students and alumni. What are their views on the program, and how do their experiences fit with your expectations? By doing your research you'll be able to better articulate what the school and program are really about and talk about how you fit. The best MBA candidates can talk in detail about the school and program they want to be a part of and why they’ll add value to the class.
2. Make Time to Practice: Take a friend out for coffee and talk to him or her about why you want to do an MBA and why you want to do an MBA at the school at which you are interviewing. Talk about your experiences and talk through a few practice questions. Don’t let the interview be the first time that you talk through an example of your leadership skills or the first time you explain why you want to be part of the program. By practicing in a relaxed atmosphere you’ll be used to talking about the topics you need to cover at interview and won’t be left cold when the pressure is on. I’m always surprised by how many candidates stumble at relatively easy MBA questions. They know the answers; they just haven’t said them out loud before.
3. Check your tech: At the Beedie School of Business almost 60% of our MBA class is from outside of Canada, and we have students from over 25 different countries in the program. This means we have to interview a lot of applicants using Skype and FaceTime. If you are applying to schools outside of your local area, it’s likely you’ll have an online interview rather than in person. If this is the case, be sure to check your technology to ensure that it works well on the big day. Also check how you look on camera. Make sure the camera is well positioned so the interviewer can see and read your body language. We all know what an important part of communication body language is, so make sure it can be seen. Make sure there is nothing distracting in the background of the shot, and that you won’t be disturbed during the interview. Believe it or not, one time a candidate I was interviewing was interrupted by his roommate during the interview. This didn’t look good for the candidate and not surprising they didn’t make it into our MBA program.
Finally, remember that schools only invite strong candidates to interview, so getting to the interview stage is a great achievement. Now it’s time to focus on your preparations. Good luck!