The interview is a crucial part of the selection process in MBA admission. About ten to fifteen percent of students secure seats in B-schools from over four lakh candidates who appear for interviews.
When you are all set to claim the B-school seat of your choice, what can go upset the apple cart? The last thing you want is to rattle an interview.
Candidates who have good academic scores and performed well in entrance tests have foiled their chances of a B-school seat by failing to pass the interview round. How do you ensure you do not fall in the above category?
You shoot yourself in the foot when you either commit blunders or forget some points of etiquette.
You may avoid errors of omission such as:
- dressing up inappropriately
- keeping your cell phone on full volume during the interview
- sitting down before the panelists offer you a seat
- fumbling when responding to a direct question
- not knowing specifics of your under-graduation subjects
You may avoid errors of commission such as:
- projecting yourself as overconfident or under-confident
- talking unenthusiastically and turning the interview into a humdrum session
- talking longer than the panelists want you to
- answering dishonestly about anything
What can you do to eliminate the blunders?
Do not compromise on preparation
There is no such thing as too much preparation. You can not be caught on the backfoot when you respond to questions. Prepare responses to standard and non-standard questions at least a week before the interview.
- Do you know what type of interview you will be facing?
- Does the institute conduct personal or group interviews?
- Have you visited the website of the college/university/institute?
- Do you have details of the program and institute you have applied to?
- Are you thorough with your under-graduation subjects?
- Have you brushed up on general knowledge and current affairs?
- Have you interacted with any of the alumni or seniors for pointers?
- Have you faced a simulated interview?
- If you are preparing for a virtual interview, have you ensured an uninterrupted internet connection and a backup device?
Assemble standard interview questions and equip yourself with the right responses. Instead of providing textbook answers, you can work on a few innovative ways to respond. When asked to describe yourself, think of narrating it differently. To a question like asked why MBA, respond by speaking out of the box. Peruse your resume and SOP for points that spring from them. Questions on your career goals are specific to you. You might state short-term and long-term goals from different perspectives. Do not give scripted responses to these questions as they seem tedious.
Reading about the B-school will give you the school’s plus points and its USP. While responding to questions on why our B-school, you must state what specifically inspired you about the school.
Never take the location for granted
You can ensure you do not fall prey to lethargy or sloppiness. Some people assume they have the right address but end up at the wrong place. Some mistakes are genuine, but you do not take chances with interview locations. To ensure you have the correct address, make a trip to the interview location a day or two before the date of the interview.
Calculate the commute time from your place to the interview and arrive fifteen to twenty minutes before the allotted time. You get sufficient time to freshen up and relax before your interview begins.
First impressions last
- Do you have interview-appropriate attire?
- Do you have accessories like ties?
- Do you have the right footwear?
If you do not have the right clothes for the interview, you must shop for them.
Once you are in the interview room, remember to smile and greet the panel. When you exude a pleasant aura, you convey a message that you are ready for them. Do not show any signs of anxiety. Nervous candidates crumble under a host of questions, even if they know the right responses.
Do not forget to:
- Make eye contact with all the panelists.
- Speak in a controlled tone.
- Resist dominating the conversation.
- Ask relevant questions and keep the session interactive
- Lead the panel into topics of your area of expertise/interest
Mind your manners
Sometimes a panelist may come across as friendly, but you can ill-afford to cross boundaries. You neither address panelists by first names nor ask them personal questions.
Do not sit in a too relaxed or reclined position.
A grilling interview is usually a sign that the panelists think in favor of your candidature and require more data. If a question intimidates you, do not overreact. Respond as coolly as possible. Do not lose your composure during the interview. Accept feedback from the panelists gracefully.
Listen carefully to the questions before you respond. Do not interrupt when the panelist speaks. Overenthusiastic candidates may begin speaking before the panelist can complete his/her question. Speak as much as the response demands. Do not dominate the session by talking more than necessary. Do not leave statements incomplete either. You cannot relax after providing insufficient information.
Lying is foreordained for perdition
Answer all questions honestly. Do not mislead the panel on anything. You must explain academic or career gaps truthfully. When you provide the right context, panelists overlook gaps or terminations.
Ranting is a sign of weakness
Do not speak ill of any former teachers, colleagues, bosses, or anyone. When you condemn someone, you appear vindictive. Panelists see you as a loser if you paint a poor picture of the boss, even if she had fired you for no fault of yours.
Let the panel see that you are the right one
Show the panel your interest in the institute. Ask questions about the institute, the program, the faculty, the projects, the placements, or the alumni. Even if you have read most of it on the website, you can ask for more details on any of them.
If you have done your research and prepared well, you secure that coveted seat.
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