Sage advice for MBA Interview Prep from a successful applicant.
It’s MBA Interview Season! And to help you prepare, we thought we’d tap into our network of successful applicants and see what THEY might have to offer up in the way of advice.
And we hit the mother load.
Lisa [not her real name, of course] owned her MBA Interview Prep in Round 1 and KILLED IT in her interviews, scoring some amaaaazing offers. If anyone knows how to rock an MBA Interview, it’s Lisa. So read on for her sage advice for MBA Interview Prep.
What schools invited you to interview?
What were your biggest concerns about the MBA interview?
I really wanted to be at my best during the interviews. My profile had a few weaknesses so I knew that the interview was the opportunity to be the best candidate I could be, to show the schools who I am and hopefully overcome those obstacles.
Why did you decide to get some help to prepare for your interviews?
After my first interview I felt that while trying to give the best answer to some questions, I talked more than I should have. The reason was mostly that I was nervous but I knew I would have to be able to communicate my message in a clearer and more concise way if I wanted to excel in the other interviews. Another thing that made me search for help was that I felt I didn’t really maximize the opportunities I had during the first interview. I lost a few opportunities because I missed the real questions behind the questions (for example, how “tell me about yourself” is just another way of saying “walk me through your resumé”). Last but not least, I was extremely anxious so mock interviews sounded like great opportunities for me to validate the answers I had prepared and to have someone assess the anecdotes I had selected.
Talk to me about what you felt as you walked into your first MBA interview. Set the scene a bit. Were you scared? Confident?
I did a few breathing exercises before each MBA interview. Because of that, while I waited for each interview I focused a lot on my breath, which helped me stay calm and sharp. My first interview was with an alum who was a bit late. At first I didn’t know if I should approach her in our native language or in english, so there were a few awkward seconds but then she took the lead and I just followed: greetings and a little chat in our native language followed by “let’s switch to english now” and it all went smooth from there.
Did you get any questions that threw you for a loop? Scared you a bit? What were they, and how did you handle them?
Gladly, the answer is no. I really felt that I was prepared for the worst and I left all interviews feeling like I had just had a good chat with someone who was interested in my background and my thoughts. If I were to pick something that I found unexpected though, it would be the different interview settings. In one case there was even a television playing the local news right behind my interviewer!
How did the prep help you in the actual MBA interview?
I got everything I was hoping from the interview prep: the confidence to be more assertive, the preparation and interpretation for the types of questions that could be asked and the validation and help to prepare my answers. However, I think what helped me the most was to learn what to expect from each school. The incredibly helpful consultants managed to prepare me for the worst. I admit that I felt scared and unprepared at the end of each mock interview, but it was the best thing I could have hoped for. From the best to the worst case possible, the interview prep really helped me to be much more prepared, and going into the interviews after addressing the points that I got from the feedback on each mock interview I just felt much more confident.
What was the most surprising thing about the MBA interview process, overall?
How friendly everyone is. You would not believe but people really just want to get to know you! My overall feeling was that they just wanted me to be part of their community and their job was to see how I would fit there. I can’t believe I’m saying this but in the end I actually enjoyed the whole process, the opportunities of meeting new people, and reflecting about myself and my career.
If you had to give one piece of advice to applicants about the MBA interview, what would it be?
Well, I know you heard that you should just “be yourself” a million times, but guess what? It’s true!!! And practice, really, have your answers thought through. Remember the moments that made you shine, remember stories that make you smile when you tell them. Show passion!
And, finally, what was the ultimate result of your MBA interviews?
I am absolutely thrilled because I was accepted to all four schools that interviewed me. (In one case I got in the wait list and was only accepted afterwards – yes, it happens, so don’t lose hope!)
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