The 5 Worst Interview Mistakes

So, you’re getting interview invitations… but no acceptance letters. What’s the deal?

We can’t say for sure (after all, we weren’t sitting in the interview with you…) but we do know of some pretty common interview faux pas that can keep you from getting that coveted acceptance letter. And now that Round 2 deadlines are coming up – and with them, even more opportunities to interview – you may want to check yourself before you wreck yourself.

Are you committing one of the 5 sins of MBA interviews?

Not Practicing Your English

If you’re an international applicant and get invited for an interview (over the phone or in-person), you need to polish up those English skills, friend. What you may not realize is the interview is the adcom’s chance to test your English… and you don’t want to fail that test. Take some extra time conversing with other English speakers and perfecting everything – accents, speech, pronunciations…everything. Practice, practice, practice until you’re absolutely sure you’re putting your best, most polished English in motion in your interviews.

Telling NEW Stories Instead of your BEST Stories

After writing about your biggest accomplishment for three different applications, you’re probably sick of telling the same story about that time you led a team of 100 people on a $2 billion project. Although it may be tempting to come up with a new story to try to stand out from other applicants, your best bet is to use the story you’ve been writing about. Most interviews are done blind, meaning the interviewer hasn’t seen your application. And even if they have, your best story will always be the most impressive.

Poor Questions for your Interviewer

Even if it doesn’t feel like it, when the interviewer asks if you have any questions for him, it is still part of the interview. And you’re still being judged. And you must have some questions. But not just any questions, folks. They need to prove you’re putting some thought into this, you’ve done your homework about the school, and that you’re genuinely interested in finding out more information. Do not ask any questions that can easily be answered by hopping on Google. (“So…what is this ‘case method’ HBS is so famous for??!”) Do ask detailed questions about specific programs, classes, student groups, the job recruitment process, etc. Ask things that show your interest in that specific program while proving you’re a good fit for that program.

Talking Too Much (or Too Little)

In terms of how long your answers should be, shoot for 2-4 minutes per answer. If you shorten your answer to 30 seconds, the interviewee will think you have nothing else to offer…. but if you talk and talk for more than 5 minutes, the interviewer will lose focus, get bored and zone out.  If you’re worried that 2-4 minutes isn’t enough, let the interviewer ask for more information. This shouldn’t be a monologue, you know.

Sabotaging Yourself After The Fact

The only communication you should be sending to the admissions department after your interview is a thank-you note. Do NOT send more than one thank-you note, and do NOT send them some mean letter about how “all your friends are getting acceptance letters, but not you.” Be patient and find something else to focus your energy on. Another application? A new hobby? Your… job?

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