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