MBA Interview Tips, Notably for Interviews via Skype

At JHU Carey we’ve just completed a busy few weeks of Round 2 interviews and we’re getting ready to start on Round 3 (though the deadline is May 1.) Here are some things I’ve noticed while interviewing. This should really be common sense, but we’re often surprised.

– Think of every interaction with the school (faculty, staff, the alumni, and current students) as an interview. If you are rude or unprofessional to anyone, for whatever reason, it will probably be held against you.

– Think of any kind of interaction as a professional job interview.

– “Cold” interviews happen. A cold interview is where the interviewer does not read your application before the interview. Don’t be surprised if we ask questions that were covered in your essays or other parts of your application. Personally, I prefer to do cold interviews so that my perceptions are not colored either way by a GMAT score or GPA, for example.

With a large number of applicants from outside the east coast of the U.S., most of our interviews are done via Skype…

– Dress as you would for a professional job interview, even for a Skype interview. Of course your interviewer will have no idea if you are wearing pajamas below camera…

This could work…

– Speaking of Skype, your Skype ID and user icon should not be something you’d be embarrassed for the president of a company you’d like to work for to see. That goes the same for email addresses you use at any time during your application process. No obscene or humorous email addresses or IDs, please.

– For Skype interviews, be sure to check your connections, settings, microphone and speakers ahead of time. Be sure to set Skype to allow incoming calls from callers not in your list of contacts.

– Don’t memorize scripted answers to questions you think we might ask. Resist the urge to have scripts or notes on your desk or your computer screen while you talk with us. It’s obvious when people do that. You should be prepared, but not over-prepared. There is a great difference between memorizing something and knowing it.

– While we’re on the subject: Don’t just memorize and feed us back words and phrases from our website or brochures. We want to know what they mean to you, your career aspirations, and your personality. We want to see that you understand us and have synthesized what our school and our program are about and the implications to you and your career path.

– For any interview, we are looking to have a conversation with you about you, your background and career aspirations, and how you think we can help you with that.

– Don’t be too brief in your answers, but don’t dominate the conversation by talking for a long time. 2 to 3 minutes for in-depth questions is a good target.

– Be prepared with good questions for us. It shows you’ve done research about the program through the website, brochures, and online information sessions and want to know more. The time for general questions about the program is when you meet representatives of the school at events or during informational interviews (which are very different from an admission interviews.)

– Don’t ask questions that can be easily answered by looking through the website or brochures.

– For in person interviews, be on time; not too early or at all late. Late is obvious, but being too early is bad as well. I’ve had interviewees show up 30 and 40 minutes early. It’s best to get to your location sufficiently early and then find a place to grab some coffee while waiting to go to the front desk and announce yourself. About five minutes early is ideal.

What does everyone think? Anything to add or disagree with? I’m curious to know the perspective of applicants.