Tag Archives: MBA interview

Do’s and Don’ts of the MBA Group Interview

This post originally appeared on Stacy’s “Strictly Business” MBA Blog on U.S.News. Competition for a seat at a top business school has never been fiercer. With so many strong, polished applications coming across their desks, …

teamwork MBA group interviews

This post originally appeared on Stacy’s “Strictly Business” MBA Blog on U.S.News.

Competition for a seat at a top business school has never been fiercer. With so many strong, polished applications coming across their desks, admissions committees at various MBA programs have turned to group or team interviews to help make crucial admit decisions.

On paper, you can wow your evaluator with interesting work experience, stellar GMAT or GRE scores and compelling MBA essays, but none of these criterion can demonstrate how well you work with others – a crucial component of the business school experience.

Each school conducts the group interview somewhat differently – including some being optional exercises – though the task is usually to have applicants work together and solve real-world business scenarios.

The exercise demonstrates how candidates approach and analyze specific situations and their interpersonal skills, two critical components of business schools that have a team-focused learning style. Observing how you interact with peers prior to admission gives the school important clues as to what kind of student you would be if admitted.

Here are some do’s and don’ts for standing out in a group interview. While you can’t predict the group’s unique dynamic, you can prepare for the interview and increase your comfort level when the big day arrives.

Do prepare in advance: When possible, find ways to speak out more in groups or meetings at work. Applicants to the University of Michigan—Ann Arbor’s Ross School of Business receive no advance specifics on the team-based exercise, but if you’re applying to the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, you’ll receive your discussion prompt prior to the interview.

Spend an hour in advance prepping for the discussion. If possible, gather a group of three or four other people and conduct a mock discussion.

Spend time studying up on the topic so you’re ready to discuss the problem in detail during the interview but try not get too attached to your own ideas. Staying flexible is key.

Don’t dominate the conversation: During the group interview, remind yourself that this isn’t a competition against others in your group – there’s no need to try to prove you’re the most brilliant mind in the room.

Encourage fellow participants to advance the conversation and help reach a solution. That said, don’t get distressed if you find yourself in a group with weaker participants. This won’t affect your admissions outcome since the observers focus solely on how you handle yourself with diverse players.

Do show you’re an active listener: A huge part of being an active listener is being open and flexible to different points of view, especially opposing viewpoints.

Even if you think you know what another person is trying to say, don’t interrupt and try to finish the thought. This sends a subtle signal that you believe your ideas are better or more important than the speaker’s.

If a group member has a good idea, acknowledge it. Also practice the “Yes, and …” rule from improvisation and build on what the other person has shared. During the interview, seize any opportunities to do this or refer to someone else’s point.

Don’t let your body language trip you up: Effective listening also involves body language. If you roll your eyes, cross your arms or display any other kind of negative body language, you’ll come across as hostile – that’s not the type of person others want on their team.

Make eye contact with the other participants when they speak, face your body toward them and ask clarifying questions when helpful. If your preparation includes mock discussions with friends or colleagues, record the session and take note of your body language, how often you interrupt or any tendencies you have to try to control the discussion.

Often, we’re unaware of these traits until we see them for ourselves. Once you know, you can actively avoid them during the interview.

Do prioritize the group’s goal: Groups that work well together impress the admissions committee, and your group is competing against other groups of applicants.

Forgo attempts to grab extra airtime for yourself, and put the team’s goal front and center. Take notes, and help keep the group on track. You’ll only have a short amount of time – 30 to 45 minutes, depending on the school – for the task.

Since many MBA applicants are born leaders and are used to taking charge, you’ll need to be conscious of the fact that you might be surrounded by lots of Type A personalities and need to adjust your style accordingly. Encourage shy participants to speak up more, suggest different approaches if the group seems stuck in a dead end and offer to summarize if the conversation has reached a point where everyone would benefit from a quick recap.

Great leaders come in many forms, but they usually have one thing in common: the ability to listen and work well with others. Whether you are an introvert or the life of the party, you can succeed in a group interview. Remember these simple steps and embrace the uncertainties of the experience, keep a positive attitude and enjoy this opportunity to start building your MBA network before you’ve even been admitted.

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

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

Upcoming Video Interview? Add Lots of Practice to Your “To Do” List

If you have an upcoming video interview for schools including INSEAD, Yale SOM, Michigan Ross or Wharton, PRACTICE is essential to success. This awkward format requires you to think on your feet and record your …

video interview prep

If you have an upcoming video interview for schools including INSEAD, Yale SOM, Michigan Ross or Wharton, PRACTICE is essential to success. This awkward format requires you to think on your feet and record your answer to a question (or questions) while speaking into your computer screen. It’s a new format for many and one that requires some rehearsal in order to become comfortable conversing with a computer screen!

Stacy Blackman Consulting has an online video platform that grants you unlimited practice doing exactly this. You can answer from a wide menu of questions, record yourself, watch and assess, tweak and try again. Invest 30 minutes a night and reap the benefits of increased comfort level and more articulate answers when you have your live interview. You can even choose an interview to submit to the SBC team for review and professional written feedback.

Set yourself up for success with this small investment and rock your video interviews! Purchase your package here today.

Posted in General | Tagged , , , , , ,

Round 2 Updates from Michigan Ross

The Round 2 deadline at Michigan Ross School of Business came and went just over a week ago, and the busy MBA admissions team is already prepared to send out the first wave of interview invitations …

Michigan Ross MBA admissionsThe Round 2 deadline at Michigan Ross School of Business came and went just over a week ago, and the busy MBA admissions team is already prepared to send out the first wave of interview invitations at the end of this week.

Director of MBA Admissions Soojin Kwon updated the admissions blog today to inform R2 applicants of several key updates, and to explain that the second and final wave of invites will go out at the end of January. Whether you receive one early or later is not a reflection on how you “stack up” against other applicants, she assures.

Dates and locations for the team exercise outside of the United States are as follows:

  • Sao Paulo (February 4)
  • New Delhi (February 12)
  • Shanghai (February 16)
  • Tokyo (February 18)

Michigan Ross will invite waitlisted international applicants from Round 1 who have already had their one-on-one interviews to participate in  team exercise in Round 2, Kwon says.

Meanwhile, on-campus interviews will run every Monday and Saturday from February 4 through February 20, and off-campus interviews will take place between January 23 and February 20.

As far as preparing for the interview is concerned, in an October post the director advised applicants to know their resume backwards and forward, and to thoroughly research the school. “Interviewers are proud of their school,” she said, and “Doing your homework on Ross demonstrates interest.”

Prepare to answer common interview questions such as: “Why do you want to get an MBA? Why do you want to do that at Ross? What do you hope to pursue after getting your MBA? Why?”

Your answers should be succinct, enthusiastic, and show that you’re prepared without sounding memorized. “Be authentic,” Kwon advised, but don’t worry too much because, as she adds, “You don’t need to try to ‘impress’ us.”

You may also be interested in:

Michigan Ross Director Calms Common Applicant Concerns

Posted in School News | Tagged , , , , ,