More Interview Tips

As we discussed last Monday, we will be sharing more interview tips in today’s entry.

As Having fun and chilling through life notes, many people are still waiting to hear about interviews. In particular, Asiangal wonders who has heard from HBS and Stanford. Remember there is still time to hear from these schools. HBS will continue to offer interviews up until the round 2 notification date of March 28. Stanford will invite applicants to interview into early April.

Of course once you receive an interview invitation, your focus should be on preparation. As AgirlsMBA writes, the HBS interviewer kept it to 30 mintues exactly and her Duke interview ran 35 minutes. She felt fine until the Duke interviewer commented that the 35 minute interview was the shortest he’d had, but he then complimented her on being articulate and prepared.

The main lesson in her experience is that you do not have a lot of time to show the interviewer why you belong at that school. Questions that get to the heart of that are “Why do you want your MBA?”, “Why this school?”, and “Where else are you applying?”

You must show the interviewer how an MBA will be the crucial bridge between your past endeavors and your future goals. To that end, you need to have a clear storyline in place that addresses your past and future without being exhaustive and repeating your entire resume or your entire response to their question on your short/long term goals. Further, there are several different components of the MBA experience to address:

1. Building your skill set — Where are there gaps in your academic understanding of business and management? Maybe you learned marketing on the job, but you have never had a formal marketing course. Maybe you have management experience, but you don’t know finance. Remember you are applying to school to emerge as a well-rounded leader, so you need to have a broad academic toolkit. Along those lines, you want to emphasize the importance of becoming a strong manager and leader and how specific courses and experiences running clubs and conferences will help you develop managerial savy and leadership instincts.

2. Developing a network — At business school you will be learning in group settings. Building connections and furthering your network should be part of your goals. Maybe you have been working exclusively in a tech environment and want to learn how people from the consulting world approach problem solving? Maybe you are looking for future business partners?

3. Clarifying and expanding your goals — Business school is an extraordinary opportunity to gain exposure to different industries and job functions. While you should have clear goals, you can express that you expect to refine those ideas after learning more about your options and how you can impact the world with an MBA.

The response to this question should build directly off of Why MBA. You have to do your homework in advance. A good place to start is your essays. You probably already articulated “why this school” for your essays. You must be able to say not only why you want to go there but also why they need you there. Similar to the why MBA question, you need to hit a few different areas.

1. Academics — 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. Do they have the best health care program? Is there a professor with expertise in retail management?

2. Leadership opportunities/professional organizations — What conferences, clubs, speakers series, etc. does the school currently offer that are connected to your interests? Which do you hope to run? How would you like to build on them? Are there any you want to start? These opportunities outside of the classroom are essential to your learning experience as well.

3. Size, teaching method, community — Rather than just stating you want a smaller school with a mixture of case and lecture, cite examples from your past of how you learn best in that environment. Or maybe you went to a small college and now you want a larger business school. Provide a reason why you prefer their academic setting.

4. Geography, social life, extra-curriculars — As we noted before, fun is an important part of business school. Tell the interviewer how you hope to build on specific interests and develop new ones. Again, know what clubs they have and which you want to join or start. The interviewer wants to see that you will be a dynamic member of your class.

Many applicants dread this question. You have spent an entire interview expressing your devotion tor their school only to have to admit you cheated on them in the application process. Don’t worry, interviewers know that you applied to more than one school. Actually they are hoping that you did because that shows a realistic perspective on this competitive process. So if they ask where else you are applying, they are trying to get a sense of how well you know yourself and your needs.

Go ahead and tell them that you have applied to a few schools because the process is so competitive. However, follow that up with restating why their school is the best fit for you. You can reemphasize a few of the points you made when answering “Why this school” especially any points relating to unique academic offerings that would further your career goals.

If you are looking for help with the interviewing process, we offer an interview preparation package and one of our consultants would be happy to discuss the details with you.

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