Interview tips – be yourself

Interviews for round 2 are coming to a close. Wharton will post its Round 2 decisions later this week. HBS and Stanford will follow on March 28 and April 5 respectively. But a few applicants are still wrapping up interviews. For example, Chris Kerns reports that he just had an interview at Cornell. Often applicants who receive interview invitations later in the game are extremely nervous. Even though a late interview invitation does not signify anything about your chances, applicants tend to feel heightened anxiety around proving their candidacy to interviewers. However being aggressive about showing that you are perfect for business school can sometimes hurt you when it comes at the expense of showing that you are a well-rounded person.

In addition to the common questions around your past achievements, future career goals, and reasons for wanting an MBA (all covered in previous posts), interviewers will usually ask questions about your hobbies, recent experiences, books of interest, and even current events. HBS in particular is known for asking about a candidate’s opinion on world news. Because applicants are anxious to show their fit in the business world, they tend to offer up “business” types of answers to these questions — discussing their involvement with a networking group or their enjoyment of reading Good to Great. Unfortunately, this is not what interviewers want to hear about.

Schools are trying to create a well-rounded class of individuals. They want to know that you are bringing personal interests to their campus that you will share with other classmates. So you should tell them about your recent trip to go scuba diving 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.  Plus let them know how you intend to bring these interests to your new friends at school and pick up new hobbies from them. 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.  Remember fun is an important part of business school and interviewers want to know what you have to contribute to this aspect of life at school.

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