By the time you get to the interview in the MBA admissions process, you’re probably already miles ahead of where you were just a month or two earlier, when you first started preparing your business school applications. Still, while you’ve perhaps become an expert on yourself, your interview skills may be a little rusty (or, maybe you never fully developed them in the first place).
While no two interviews are the same, we’ve conducted enough of them (and have prepared enough clients for them) that we know how to spot one that’s helping your cause vs. one that’s going down the tubes. Here are some signs that your admissions interview is going well:
- You come off as confident without being arrogant. Many interview experts stress that you need to project confidence, while others tell their clients they absolutely cannot come off as arrogant. They’re both right, and you need to strike a balance between the two. You don’t want the interviewer to feel sorry for you as you sweat through every question and answer, but as little humility is always appealing.
- Your answers are succinct. Perhaps the surest sign that an interview is going badly is when you find yourself rambling through answers. This means that you weren’t prepared for the question, or you have an answer but can’t present it in a brief, coherent way. Your answers should be conversational, but should always have a clear beginning, middle, and end, and should take no more than a minute or two each.
- You manage to get all of your application themes on the table. If you go into the interview knowing that you need to really drive home your leadership ability and your analytical skills, for example, then you absolutely must do that by the end of the interview! Interviews often start off with “Walk me through your resume,” or “Tell me about yourself” — this is a great way for you to hit on your key themes right away.
- It’s a two-way conversation. Interviewers will vary greatly in their style, but you ideally won’t do all of the talking during your interview. Comments such as “That’s interesting, tell me more,” and “That’s pretty impressive,” are good signs that you’re getting through to your interviewer.
- … but it’s still an interview. Ideally, you will be able to strike a smart balance between having an enjoyable conversation but still maintaining the structure of the interview, making sure that your themes are covered and that your interviewer covers everything he needs to cover.. After all, when your interviewer is done he needs to answer some questions about you, and he can’t do that if you’ve just spent 45 minutes talking about politics and football. Make it enjoyable, but remember that it’s still an interview!
If you’re now preparing for your admissions interview and want some expert help, take a look at Veritas Prep’s MBA interview preparation services. Also, Your MBA Game Plan contains dozens of sample MBA interview questions to help you get ready. Good luck!