Do you have it in you to convert an MBA admission at top B-schools?

You have aced entrance tests like the CAT, XAT, NMAT, SNAP, etc. Your dream school is just that one step away from the final admission. Most B-schools have conducted interviews online this year.

It is crucial for you to prepare well to face the interviewer who decides your admission into the B-school. How do you plan to convince the interviewer that your seat is better deserved than the rest?

Five ways to crack an MBA Interview in 2021.

Whether you face a panel or one person at the interview, do you:

  • come across as confident and prudent?
  • give scripted responses or spontaneous ones?
  • lead the panel into questions you want them to ask you?
  • ensure the interview is more a discussion than a question-answer session?
  • dress appropriately?

How do you present yourself as confident and prudent?

Interviewers tend to assess you in the first few moments to decide whether you are the right fit. Hence it is pivotal to make the right first impression.

You must:

  • Greet the panelists as you enter the room.
  • Shake hands with all the members of the panel.
  • Make eye contact with each of the panelists throughout the session. Making eye-contact is easy when you face just one person.
  • Once the panelist asks you to take a seat, sit comfortably but not casually.
  • Address the person who asked you the question when you respond. If the answer is longer than a sentence or two, start with the person who addressed you and continue talking with the other members. Try not to make it a dialogue between two when you are amidst a panel.

What are some of the standard interview questions?

If you have attended interviews from some B-schools, you have noticed a few common questions:

  • Tell me something about yourself / describe yourself.
  • Describe your under-graduation project.
  • Tell us about your hobbies.
  • What are your strengths/weaknesses?
  • Why do you want to do an MBA?
  • Why do you want to enroll in our institute?
  • What is your experience at the current/past jobs?

Prepare your responses so that you do not sound monotonous. Interviewers can spot ennui and would terminate the session before you know it. Use inflections in your voice to break thetedium.

Narrate incidents where your contribution to a project made a significant difference. Include anything that shows your leadership/managerial skills. Ensure you talk about projects/hobbies that excite you so that you sound enthused.

Read everything you can about the B-school. Visit the website and look for points about the school that inspired you to apply. These points come in handy in answering: Why do you want to enroll in our institute?

Comb through your resume/application/SOP for any points that arouse questions. For example, you must prepare to explain academic or career gaps, if any.

Know what type of interview you would be facing. Find out whether you will be facing one person or a panel. Is it a group interview or a personal interview? Does the institute have the reputation to grill interviewees? What type of questions fluster you?

How do you lead the panel into questions you want them to ask you?

Have you watched the series Suits? The suave lawyers keep quoting dialogues from films to make their points. Citing movies and books not only presents you as an intelligent person but also keeps the session interesting. But ensure you use relevant dialogues. Use the lines from books or films as examples to steer the interview in a manner you want. Do not venture into unknown territories. You only quote lines from a book you have read or dialogues from films or series you have watched. You must be confident while discussing the book or film, or it might backfire.

How do you ensure the interview is interactive?

Any talk show you like might feature the host asking a celebrity questions wherein the celebrity responds with witty repartees. Your responses should not be perfunctory at any stage, but they must sound spontaneous and pert without making them seem facetious.

You may also ask the panel a few questions. When you ask them details of the institute or the program, you come across as a person who takes the degree seriously. When the panelists respond, the session becomes more of a discussion than a question-answer session.

You neither sound brash nor timid. Do not try to cover up any questions with text-book answers that you do not believe. Panelists can see through pretenses. Be authentic in your responses. 

Wear the right clothes

There is no arguing the case of dressing appropriately for any occasion. You do not turn up wearing flashy colors or loud accessories to attend a formal meeting. Interviews are as formal as they come. 

  • Wear formal, yet comfortable attire.
  • Use minimal accessories.
  • Your clothes should speak professionalism.
  • Men ought to wear a suit with a tie. If the weather is too warm for a jacket, you may skip it, but do not compromise on formal trousers, shirt, and tie.
  • Women in India can choose between western formals – pant-blouse-jacket/skirt-blouse-jacket, and Indian formals – churidar/salwar-kurta/sari.
  • Wear formal clothes – pants or skirts must be black/nay blue, or a dark shade of brown, and shirts/blouses must be white or pastel-colored.
  • Avoid bold prints. Plain shirts/ blouses score over the rest. You might pull off light stripes or checks, provided they are not flamboyant.
  • Use minimal accessories. Men may wear belts and watches that are not prominent. Women should avoid flashy jewelry, and stick to plain watches/bracelets/chains/ earrings.
  • Wear dark-colored and formal shoes that are comfortable.
  • If you wear perfumes, avoid strong ones.
  • Keep your hair neat.

Preparation is the key. Ensure you have the logistics in check. Make a trip to the interview spot a day or two before the interview and familiarize yourself with the route to the place. Assess the travel time required to reach the location beforehand. You can ill-afford to present yourself late for an interview.

If you are going to face a virtual interview, plan for uninterrupted internet and power supply. Keep your laptop charged and another one for a backup if possible.  Select a room that is well-lit and noise-free. Warn family members (or colleagues in the office) against disturbing you during the interview.

If you believe you will be facing a panel of people who might be judging you, you are right. Their job is to ensure they scan candidates and shortlist those who can enroll in their program and graduate successfully. You must get used to the idea of answering questions that can be intimidating. Think positive thoughts, recall some of your achievements, or happy occasions in your life.

Do mock interviews with alumni you know from the institute. If you do not know any alumni, ask your seniors at the office or college to fill in as panelists.

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All the best!