Do’s and Don’ts In A Business School (B-School) Interview

Different B Schools follow different interview policies; a few Business Schools grant interviews only by invitation, a few B Schools don’t conduct interviews at all, and a few B Schools leave the decision on applicants whether applicants want to be interviewed or not. No matter what the policies are, B School interviews may become a strong tool for both MBA applicants and admission committee representatives to take the final decision. From a college’s point of view, it would be able to gauge through applicant’s interpersonal skills and pick candidates who not only look great managers on paper but also in real life. From applicant’s point of view, interviews can become a great way to gather first hand information and help him/her to make an informed decision, in case offers from more than one MBA programme have been made.

An admission interview should always be treated as a healthy conversation and with the understanding that the people sitting on the other side of table are interested in knowing you. The questions in B School interviews can range from academics to work experience to broad discussion on life. Personal Interviews(PIs) are usually conducted either by members of admission committee or an alumnus. Generally MBA admission interviews are conducted in person but in a few cases telephonic / web conference interviews are also arranged. Some B schools will grant interviews on candidate’s request, in such cases candidates should take an opportunity to meet B School representatives to make a strong candidature.

Like any important task, B School Interviews or PIs are no different; it takes right amount of knowledge, commitment, and hard work to come out on top. Every B School interviewer would like you to answer at least three questions : Why us? Why MBA? And why you?

Keep the following B-School Interview tips in mind and prepare well.

9. Body language: As soon as a candidate walks into a room, he exudes certain qualities such as positivity/ negativity, charm/ dullness etc. Interviewers are definitely looking forward to meet pleasant candidates who know how to conduct themselves. Good Morning, sir/ma’m should be the first thing that candidate must do as he enters the room. One should sit in a straight posture and should NEVER fold his hands. Don’t frown but don’t grin as well. Keep a pleasant smile on your face, even when you think that the interviewer is trying to stress you, and maintain your composure. Twitching feet, playing with hair or finger rings, unnecessarily settling tie, etc are not a very pleasant things to do. Many a time people are not aware of their habitual expressions; it is best to take feedback from your friends or colleagues; practising in front of the mirror is one of the best options that a candidate can opt for.

* Eye contact: By maintaining a proper eye contact, you are essentially giving respect to the person whom you are interacting with. You shouldn’t be looking like talking to a wall or a ceiling, rather a constant eye contact should be maintained throughout the interview.
* Handshakes: A limp, bone cracking, sweaty palms, or clawed handshakes should be strictly avoided. Never underestimate the effect of firm and confident handshake whilst maintaining a proper eye contact.

8. Don’t beat around the bush: Maintain a soft tone while answering the questions and , focus on fostering a friendly conversation with the interviewer. Avoid making remarks against your past employers or the B School itself; interviewers want to know how interested you are in their B school and not otherwise. A thorough research on B School ( programmes, alumni, Student Clubs, specialization etc.), clarity about goals, vision, and work experience would always help candidates to give concrete and concise answers. During the conversation, it is better not to bring up extraneous topics until one has thorough knowledge on the subject and can strike a relevant conversation on the same. Sound realistic and back up your claims with examples.

7. Prepare, prepare, and prepare! MBA Admission Interview, like any other part of admission process, is important. Well prepared candidate will always stand out from the crowd. The following points should be kept in mind while preparing:

* Be thorough with what has gone in your admission essays, resume, SOPs etc. It is always advisable to write your admission essays on your own because no one knows you better than your own self. There should be no mismatch between what you would be speaking and what you have written in your Business School application.
* Practise mock interviews with your friends, parents, colleagues, teachers etc. and a mock interview with a mirror can never deceive you. Work on the feedback.
* Answers to questions on programme that you have applied for, career goals/ vision, strength and weakness, why XYZ B School, work experience, extra curricular experience, and why MBA kind of questions should be at your fingertips.
* If possible, find out about the interviewer/ interview panel through school’s website.
* Confirm your admission interview via phone or email and make sure that you have proper directions about the venue. Send a copy of your resume to each person with whom you are scheduled to meet and carry a copy with you on the day of interview.

6. Be Yourself: Be honest and sound honest. If someone asks you questions on weakness don’t come up with silly answers that ‘I am a perfectionist’, ‘weaknesses are for mediocre’ or ‘my biggest weaknesses are my biggest strengths’; sob stories are a strict no-no. Also, don’t come up with weaknesses that could not be rectified or those you have not worked upon to improve. Tell about your weaknesses and what you have done so far to overcome them. There is much more to life than great resumes or essays that admission interviewers look for in candidates before giving the final offer. Enthusiasm, willingness to learn, positive approach, contributions in different areas, and way of carrying oneself makes one candidate different from another.

5. Basic Manners: Learn to say thank you and sorry. Switch off your cell phone and if you can’t switch it off then keep it on silent non-vibration mode. Strictly do not take calls during the interview. Do not make excuses, sound superior or aggressive during the interview. Avoid monosyllabic or yes-no kind of answers.

4. Listen and don’t SOUND stressed: Listen carefully to the interviewer before jumping on to the conclusions and answering. Out of nervousness or stress many a time candidates start answering the questions even before listening to the complete question. It is also important that you maintain a calm tone even when interviewer is trying to stress you. Don’t sound defensive or raise your tone; your choice of words and voice will speak for yourself.

3. Dress to impress: “Wear business attire” sounds obvious to everyone who is going for an interview but still a lot of people turn up in dresses that are more suited for a party than a corporate setting. You’d rather be recalled for your qualities than for the lousy clothes that you must have worn. Well cut, clean, and neatly ironed conservative business suits are appreciated. Men should avoid wearing loud jewellery, excessive hair gels, flashy ties, and boots; go minimal with a watch, a wedding ring, neatly combed hair and shaven/ well trimmed looks. For women, well fitted skirt or pant suits both work but go light on jewellery, heels and make up; nothing works better than a light lip gloss and kohl as far as make up goes . It is good to smell pleasant but excessive use of perfumes can be choking. Blues, greys, and blacks are ideal as far as suits are concerned and pastel colour shirts teamed with them work best. Do not wear dirty unpolished shoes.

2. Do you have any question for us? There will be a point in an interview where the tables will turn and the interviewer will ask you so do you have anything to ask me? This is the opportunity given to students where they can utilize the unique knowledge of an interviewer. The only way to prepare for this question is to browse school’s website thoroughly. This will not only help you form intelligent question but also help you avoid the obvious questions. It is very likely that you may end up irritating the interviewer by asking questions such as ‘what is the class size?’ or ‘what is an average age?’ All such information is readily available on school’s website and your unawareness to such questions will only portray your lack of interest in school. You should have separate questions prepared for alumni and deans/ members of admission committee. It is obvious that you cannot ask questions such as ‘ how have you most benefited from the school’ from the Dean but the same question can be put across an alumni. Like any other question, this part of interview will become conversational only if your research is thorough and dedicated.

1. Follow Up: Never forget to say a verbal thank you to the admission interviewers for their time and consideration. It is best to send a formal ‘thank you’ email within 24 hours of your interview. In an email apart from saying thanks for time that interviewer has allotted to you, you should thank for the information that the interviewer must have shared with you about the school. You can politely ask for a business card or email address from the interviewer.

Keep visiting the Blog for more updates!!! All the Best!!!



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