The latest post on the Texas MBA Insider blog has five important tips for conquering the MBA admissions interview. Julia Campbell, associate director of admissions at UT McCombs School of Business, understands why some applicants may feel nervous about this step of the admissions process, but stresses that this is basically one of your only opportunities for face-to-face interaction with someone from the AdCom team—so make it count!
Campbell says you should pay attention to these five things if you want to “totally crush” the admissions interview:
1. Don’t be on time – be early. Arriving early is interviewing 101, yet it still manages to falter even the most prepared candidates. Arriving early is even more critical if you’ve never been to campus before.
2. “What was the question again?” You’d be surprised how many times at the end of an applicant’s long-winded answer we are asked to repeat the original question. Most often this happens to people who try to cram too much into the first answer for fear of not being given an opportunity later on to address that well-rehearsed example. Don’t worry, we’ll get to it! Plus, sometimes there is an opportunity at the end of an interview to mention anything we didn’t address in the formal line of questioning.
3. Loosen up. Given our program’s famously friendly culture, our interviews are relatively informal. If you still find yourself nervous, practice your answers in front of a mirror, a friend or a willing stranger, and ask them how you did; did you answer the question or did you rush through it? Take a moment to outline your answer in your mind first, and then address it calmly and confidently. Don’t get too comfortable, though. While we’re an easy-going bunch, maintaining an appropriate level of professionalism is always a good idea.
4. Know what we’re looking for. We listen for confidence, clear and concise communication of career goals, concrete examples of teamwork and leadership, in-depth knowledge of our MBA program, and overall genuine enthusiasm. Also, the interview can be a place to showcase secondary skills that are difficult for us to determine solely based on your application: interview skills, self-awareness, communication style, and “hire-ability”.
5. Come with questions. A good list of questions can illustrate a few key things about a candidate: you’ve done your research, you care about our program, you have envisioned yourself as an MBA and you can formulate thoughts under pressure. Don’t overdo it, though. We usually leave anywhere from 10-15 minutes for questions, so limit your list to 2-3 good ones maximum and have a few backups.
Additionally, we here at Stacy Blackman Consulting suggest applicants be sensitive to any non-verbal cues that would let you know if your interviewer feels you’re droning on about a topic and is ready to shift gears. It’s a conversation, not a monologue, so be sure to allow for the appropriate give and take.
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.