UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School recently wrapped up its three-part series of admissions tips with a post focusing on how to ready yourself before, during, and after the interview.
Below, we’ll summarize the main points laid out by admissions team member Kelly Lynch. While her advice is targeted toward Kenan-Flagler applicants, MBA candidates awaiting interviews with any program can find useful information here.
Before the Interview:
Research your target program thoroughly, which means tapping into all resources available to you, such as networking with alumni at admissions events or reaching out to current students. A great tip Lynch offers is to compile a list of questions, and then see how many of them you can answer via a simple search of the school website. Any questions you can’t find an answer to are probably excellent ones to ask during your interview, Lynch says.
While it should go without saying, applicants should take care to present themselves professionally—that means well-groomed and in appropriate business attire. (If you think this advice is unnecessary, see this memo circulated among first-years at Columbia Business School a few years back.)
During the Interview:
Make eye contact and offer a firm handshake when greeting your interviewer. Speaking articulately, and without fillers such as um, well, uh, and like, is particularly important for applicants interviewing over the phone or Skype, and goes a long way in conveying professionalism.
In addition to asking those insightful questions, make sure you explain why the school you’re interviewing with is the best fit for you. Be specific about what elements of the program will help you further your professional goals, says Lynch, and demonstrate how you’d give back to the community as well.
Stacy’s insider tip: Alumni interviewers will enjoy reminiscing about their experiences, and will especially like any questions about clubs or activities they were part of, while current students can provide a great perspective on what they wish they had known, or the most interesting aspect of their MBA experience.
Lynch stresses that it’s important to relax and be yourself, but that’s not a free pass to come in flip-flops or behave in an overly familiar way. Major faux pas such as answering a phone call or text during the interview, or even minor ones such as fidgeting too much, can leave a lasting negative impression. Make sure you’re on your best, most composed behavior for the duration of the conversation.
After the Interview:
Wrap up the interview with a sincere thank you for the interviewer’s time, and remember to ask for a business card if you haven’t already received one. You should send a thank-you note or email within a week of your interview date, and Lynch suggests mentioning something unique that may have been discussed during your interview to help the interviewer remember you, as well as to further convey your interest in attending the school.
Now that you have done your interview homework, the final step is simply to relax and try to enjoy the process. Good luck!