Tag Archives: interview prep

6 Ways to Play the MBA Waiting Game

After months of planning, studying for the admissions exam, writing essays, and wrangling recommenders, once you hit the submit button for your business school applications you’ve probably been wondering what to do with yourself during the MBA waiting game. Here …

MBA wait listAfter months of planning, studying for the admissions exam, writing essays, and wrangling recommenders, once you hit the submit button for your business school applications you’ve probably been wondering what to do with yourself during the MBA waiting game. Here are six tips to make the most of this period.

1. Be happy: What did you enjoy before essays and GMAT scores became the focal point of your life? Take this opportunity to relax a bit, read a book, or go for a run.

It’s likely your social life has languished on the back burner for the past few months, so spend some time reconnecting with your family and friends before every waking minute is spent job hunting and networking with your fellow MBA classmates. While accomplishing a huge goal such as gaining admission to an MBA program will feel good, friends, exercise, and relationships are the path to longer-lasting happiness.

2. Fantasize about your plan B: It’s tempting to start planning out your first few weeks on campus—the clubs you plan to join and the apartment you will hunt for—but reminding yourself that you have alternatives is healthy. You’re young, intelligent, and accomplished. If you didn’t go to business school in the fall, what career shift or huge dream might you fulfill?

Maybe you would flee to Paris and take art lessons, learn Mandarin (in China), or hike the Appalachian Trail. Fantasizing about plan B is more practical than you think; when you start receiving those acceptance letters, you’ll have a head start on your summer plans!

3. Avoid discussion boards: While commiserating with strangers over the Internet may seem like an attractive outlet for your anxiety, focusing on an outcome you can no longer control will only add to stress in your life. While it’s certainly positive to network with your potential future classmates, make sure you approach any rumors or myths with a balanced perspective.

It is natural to search for certainty in an uncertain process. With admission rates hovering at 10 percent for the most competitive programs, many candidates feel anxiety about the final decisions. However, if you have put together the strongest possible application you can and worked to impact every factor under your control, it’s time to relax and wait for the results.

4. Prepare for interviews: If you absolutely must remain focused on your MBA plans, starting your interview prep is a good outlet for your energy. Working on your communication and presentation skills can be an ongoing challenge.

Practicing common interview questions with friends and family will both make you more prepared when the interview invitation arrives and minimize your anxiety.

5. Become a local, even if only for a few days: MBA candidates should remember that they will be choosing not just a school but a city or town as well. Therefore, now is an ideal time to plan that campus visit, and to explore the region you may soon call home for the next two years.

6. Stay connected: Demonstrating continued and genuine interest in your MBA program of choice is one of the best ways to show the admissions committee that you are strongly committed to attending their program. How to do this? Reach out to alumni for an insider view of the program, and perhaps some interview pointers as well.

If the school plans to hold an information session online or in a city nearby, sign up or show up. You can never have too much information about your target school. The more opportunities you create to connect with the program, the better you’ll be able to judge its culture and community to determine if it’s the right fit for you.

Posted in Application Tips | Tagged , , , , , , ,

MBA Interview Tips to Help You Knock It Out of the Park

As you may guess, the purpose of the MBA admissions interview is twofold: it gives the AdCom a chance to see a candidate’s personality, leadership qualities and motivation for pursuing an MBA, and it also …

Smile and Shake Hands

As you may guess, the purpose of the MBA admissions interview is twofold: it gives the AdCom a chance to see a candidate’s personality, leadership qualities and motivation for pursuing an MBA, and it also lets applicants tell their own story beyond the essays and other materials in the application. Once you receive an interview invitation, your focus should be on preparation.

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. Try coming up with a list of questions and see how many of them you can answer after a simple search of the school’s website. If you can’t easily find an answer, that’s probably a good topic to discuss in your interview.

Many interviews will begin with some version of “Tell me about yourself” or “Walk me through your resume.” It can be hard to know where to begin with this.  One approach is to simply ask, “Where would you like me to begin?”  As an applicant, you shouldn’t be afraid to ask for further clarification, as this also makes the interview more of a conversation.

Remember that the interview is a dialog, often with someone who could soon be your peer. Don’t feel like you need to read their mind and immediately know what they are looking for. In general, you will begin this question with college and provide a brief chronology regarding decisions from there.

In addition to asking insightful questions, make sure you explain why the school you’re interviewing with is the best fit for you. What are the specific courses, programs, and professors that will help you reach your goals? It’s even better if you can highlight your need for academic offerings unique to this school.

Some applicants have reported being asked, “Tell me about yourself—not the resume stuff.” This is a different type of question, where you might start with where you grew up and provide more personal anecdotes about family and personal interests.

MBA info sessionsSchools are trying to create a well-rounded class of individuals. They want to know that you’re bringing personal interests to their campus that you’ll share with other classmates. So you should tell them about your recent scuba diving trip in Belize, your role as the food and wine connoisseur among friends, your love for historical fiction, your favorite college class in evolutionary biology, and your opinions on globalization.

Interviewers should be able to imagine you as the classmate who will organize trips, plan dinners, start a book club, etc.  They don’t want to think that you are just about business and academics all of the time.

Alumni interviewers 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.

As you prepare for your interview, one of the most important tips to remember is to sound natural—not scripted—during the exchange.  Instead of trying to remember and include every last one of your memorized bullet points, focus on succinctly answering only the question at hand.

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. Send a thank-you note or email within the week, and try to include a memorable detail from your conversation to help the interviewer remember you as well as to reiterate your interest in attending the school.

The interaction in an MBA interview speaks volumes about what kind of teammate you will be when you are in the program, so make sure the right message is coming across loud and clear.

Image credit: Flickr user thinkpanama (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Posted in General | Tagged , , , ,

6 Tips for Acing Your MBA Interview

There is no mute button in an admissions interview to get into a top business school, and since this is one of a handful of opportunities for face time you’ll have with someone from the …

There is no mute button in an admissions interview to get into a top business school, and since this is one of a handful of opportunities for face time you’ll have with someone from the AdCom team, you’ll need to do all that you can to make that time count.

Keep in mind, the interaction in an MBA interview speaks volumes about what kind of teammate you will be when you are in the program, so make sure the right message is coming across loud and clear.

Here are six interview tactics that will leave them wanting more of you.

1)    THERE’S NO PRIZE FOR ANSWERING THE FASTEST! Business school interviews are as much about getting to know you as they are about getting to know how you think.   The interviewer isn’t going to endorse you based on how fast you answer a question, but they are going to hold it against you if you answer a question without understanding it. So if you’re stumped by a question, ask for clarification. And don’t be afraid to take a moment to ponder your answer.  A well-thought answer is never a bad thing!

2)    BE A BROKEN RECORD.  What’s the best way to get to Carnegie Hall? Practice. The same can be said for your business school interview, PRACTICE!  Once you’ve thought of the stories and anecdotes you want to highlight in your interview, practice them out loud and for an audience. Sure, your roommate may roll her eyes when asked to hear the “Peace Corps” story again and your brother may plug his ears when you tell him the “What I Learned From Being Fired” story again, but all that practice will make sure your Interviewer isn’t the one plugging his ears and rolling his eyes.

3)    IT’S AN INTERVIEW, NOT A MONOLOGUE.  The point of the interview is to get to know you, but you don’t want to bore the interviewer in the process. Remember, they may interview dozens of candidates. That means a lot of eager future-moguls talking about the same thing: themselves. So whenever possible, make the interview a conversation, not a monologue. By including the interviewer in the conversation, you’ll keep them interested and engaged in the most important topic of all: YOU.

4)    DON’T MISS THE OPPORTUNITY TO GET TO KNOW AN ALUM.  If your interviewer just happens to be an alum, take the opportunity to get to know a bit more about their experiences with the school.  Not only will you learn more about your potential business school, but by asking thoughtful questions your interviewer will get another opportunity to see your savvy thought process and insightful way of thinking. Believe us – MBAs love to talk about themselves!

5)    PROFESSIONAL IS AS PROFESSIONAL DOES.  Be on time and be professional.  That means, be on time if not early. Dress professionally, turn your cell phone off and present yourself as you would at work.  Not sure what that means? Ask your friends who have gone to business school, or a trusted professional.  Still not sure? Just think of what your mother would say to do, don’t be late, sit up straight, spit out your gum and for goodness sake, turn off your cell phone!  Nothing screams unprofessional like the beeping of an iphone text because all your buddies and family members want to know how it’s going.

6)    DON’T BE A ROBOT. Easier said than done, but RELAX and realize you are speaking to a real live human being.  If your interviewer wanted formulaic answers without the addition of your personality and charm, they’d read your resume and application package and that would be that.  They’re interviewing you because they want to get to know you. Your personality is as unique as your experiences. Share your story and share who you are, that’s why they’re there after all!

Basically, if you can get from point A to point B in a clear, logical way; maintain an open, friendly, and professional demeanor; dress appropriately; and have an inquisitive attitude about the school and all it has to offer students, you stand a very good chance of coming out of the interview with flying colors.

*     *     *
A version of this post by Stacy was originally published on the MBA website Poets & Quants.

Posted in General | Tagged , ,

Get Ready for MBA Application Videos

In an era where MBA applicants often come across as overly packaged and polished, the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management decided to shake things up last year by introducing a video component to …

In an era where MBA applicants often come across as overly packaged and polished, the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management decided to shake things up last year by introducing a video component to the application in an effort to see the unscripted side of candidates.

Until now, schools only had face time with the applicants they interviewed. Video technology allows every MBA hopeful a chance to add some color to the rest of his or her application and show the admissions committee the person behind the resume, recommendation letters and essays.

(continue reading this post on Stacy’s US News MBA Admissions: Strictly Business Blog)

Posted in Application Tips, School News | Tagged , , , , , , ,

No Mute Button In An MBA Interview

There is no mute button in an admissions interview to get into a top business school. Here are six interview tactics that will leave them wanting more of you. 1)    THERE’S NO PRIZE FOR ANSWERING …

There is no mute button in an admissions interview to get into a top business school. Here are six interview tactics that will leave them wanting more of you.

1)    THERE’S NO PRIZE FOR ANSWERING THE FASTEST! Business school interviews are as much about getting to know you as they are about getting to know how you think.   The interviewer isn’t going to endorse you based on how fast you answer a question, but they are going to hold it against you if you answer a question without understanding it. So if you’re stumped by a question, ask for clarification. And don’t be afraid to take a moment to ponder your answer.  A well-thought answer is never a bad thing!

2)    BE A BROKEN RECORD.  What’s the best way to get to Carnegie Hall? Practice. The same can be said for your business school interview, PRACTICE!  Once you’ve thought of the stories and anecdotes you want to highlight in your interview, practice them out loud and for an audience. Sure, your roommate may roll her eyes when asked to hear the “Peace Corps” story again and your brother may plug his ears when you tell him the “What I Learned From Being Fired” story again, but all that practice will make sure your Interviewer isn’t the one plugging his ears and rolling his eyes.

3)    IT’S AN INTERVIEW, NOT A MONOLOGUE.  The point of the interview is to get to know you, but you don’t want to bore the interviewer in the process. Remember, they may interview dozens of candidates. That means a lot of eager future-moguls talking about the same thing: themselves. So whenever possible, make the interview a conversation, not a monologue. By including the interviewer in the conversation, you’ll keep them interested and engaged in the most important topic of all: YOU.

4)    DON’T MISS THE OPPORTUNITY TO GET TO KNOW AN ALUM.  If your interviewer just happens to be an alum, take the opportunity to get to know a bit more about their experiences with the school.  Not only will you learn more about your potential business school, but by asking thoughtful questions your interviewer will get another opportunity to see your savvy thought process and insightful way of thinking. Believe us – MBAs love to talk about themselves!

5)    PROFESSIONAL IS AS PROFESSIONAL DOES.  Be on time and be professional.  That means, be on time if not early. Dress professionally, turn your cell phone off and present yourself as you would at work.  Not sure what that means? Ask your friends who have gone to business school, or a trusted professional.  Still not sure? Just think of what your mother would say to do, don’t be late, sit up straight, spit out your gum and for goodness sake, turn off your cell phone!  Nothing screams unprofessional like the beeping of an iphone text because all your buddies and family members want to know how it’s going.

6)    DON’T BE A ROBOT. Easier said than done, but RELAX and realize you are speaking to a real live human being.  If your interviewer wanted formulaic answers without the addition of your personality and charm, they’d read your resume and application package and that would be that.  They’re interviewing you because they want to get to know you. Your personality is as unique as your experiences. Share your story and share who you are, that’s why they’re there after all!

***

This post by Stacy is part of a new series, B-School Admissions Tips You Can’t Live Without, originally published on the MBA website Poets & Quants.

Posted in General | Tagged , ,