Unlock the Door to a Successful Admissions Interview

Jun 6, 2013
Tags: Admissions Requirements, Applications, B-School, School Selection

Jaqueline BritoSubmitted by Jacqueline Brito, SPHR, Assistant Dean, Rollins College Crummer Graduate School of Business

All too often I’ve seen applicants approach their graduate business admissions interview as if they had nothing to lose – walking in with the misguided perception that the interview is merely a formality rather than a critical part of the admissions process.

How you perform in your admissions interview will often determine whether you are admitted. The reason business schools place special emphasis on the interview is because so much of the MBA experience depends on the composition of the classroom. Projects are usually team-based, and professors lead discussions rather than just lecture. Admissions professionals are tasked with finding the right candidates who will work well together and add value in both the classroom and the workplace. Interviews are therefore every bit as important as GMAT scores, grades, or letters of recommendation.

If you want to unlock the door to a successful admissions interview, then preparation is key. Here are four solid tips that can help you position yourself to stand out against the competition and earn a place in your dream school:

  1. Sincere Eloquence: Be able to clearly articulate your reasons for wanting to pursue a graduate business degree. Admissions professionals will expect you to describe your motivation for applying to graduate school and more specifically, your interest in their program. Be sure to explain your reasons using your own words — it’s obvious when candidates are just regurgitating what they found on the school’s website.
  2. Find the Right Fit: Make sure that the school and its program are the right fit for you. If your learning style is more conducive to a small classroom with personalized attention, for example, then you cannot make a case for wanting to be at a school that provides just the opposite. If you prefer to work independently, then don’t apply to a team-based program.
  3. Be the Right Fit: The converse to number two above is also important. Make sure you are the right fit and that you can explain why you are the right fit for the school and program. Your due diligence can be accomplished in these simple steps:
    • Review the class profile of your program of interest
    • Ask to sit in on a class
    • Follow up with an admissions representative and use that as your time to “interview them” with questions that are important to help ensure you have tangible information to make a well-informed decision
    • Ask to speak with an alumnus for validation of what you have seen and heard
  4. Highlight Yourself: Know your unique value proposition. A good place to start is by creating a well-written resume that highlights areas most important to the school. Be able to talk about those specifics if asked.

Remember: Your interview starts before the first words are even spoken. Following these tips will increase your probability of getting an admittance letter to the graduate program that’s the right fit for you and your career aspirations.