Tis the season for interviews! This edition of Tuesday Tips is for the lucky round one applicants who have been selected to interview for their target schools.
The role of the interview varies by program, and it will certainly be helpful to reach out to your network of any current or former students at the school you will be interviewing for to seek some guidance on what to expect.
Most programs will offer you the option to interview on campus or with a local alumni volunteer. Whichever option you choose, the interview will be evaluated on the same basis and the interviewer will be required to submit the same information about you. Your decision about whether to interview on campus or with an alumni interviewer should be made on the basis of your own personal needs, not any concern about how it will look to the admissions committee. Certainly, if you have the time and resources to visit the school it will be a great opportunity to meet current students and attend classes. However, if you are stressed out about your big quarterly meeting the whole time, it will be far less beneficial.
To prepare for your interview you may want to start by reviewing your applications. It’s been a few weeks since you submitted, and you will want to return to the MBA applicant mindset by reviewing your overall application strategy. If the interview is “blind” (meaning that the interviewer has seen none of your application materials) it will help you remember what aspects of your background you will want to highlight. If the interview is not blind (HBS in particular) you will need to know your own story in detail to answer some of the specific questions the interviewer will pose.
The second step in your interview process is to review some typical questions. Many candidates post their experiences online, like this post on mbarunnergirl’s Columbia interview. Once you have a list of questions you can use them to practice. Being concise, focused and enthusiastic is your goal, and knowing what you want and need to say will help. Write out short bullet points to outline what you would say in response to your practice questions.
Once you know what you need to say, the only thing left to do is practice! Enlist the help of family and friends, and ask them to provide constructive feedback. Once you have “experienced” the interview a few times you will be more relaxed and able to focus on connecting with your interviewer and demonstrating your enthusiasm for the school.
Remember that you can also use the interview to learn more about the program. Think of a few interesting questions to ask at the end of the interview if there is time for questions. Alumni interviewers will enjoy reminiscing about their experiences, and will especially like any questions about clubs or activities they were part of. Current students can provide a great perspective on what they wish they had known, or the most interesting aspect of their MBA experience.
Now that you have done your interview homework, relax and enjoy the process!