Placement seasons are full of anxiety for MBA aspirants. Students find themselves in a dilemma to choose the right path for their career with an air of bewilderment lurking in the air, questioning every move.
A business school interview is a chance for you to present yourself in a manner that impresses the panelists that decide the fate of your application. From your appearance to the tone, accent, and speed of your voice and the confidence that you portray, everything is important in a personal, online or telephonic interview.
Today we focus on some of the tips that students can use to crack top business school interviews in the country in their first attempt. With acceptance rates varying broadly in some of the top business schools, it is important to have adequate information about the business school and the program that you want to enter. Business school interviews start with general questions that help you get comfortable and settle in during the interview and gradually shift to more specific questions.
Some of the key elements that help you crack business school interviews are personality traits, communication skills, knowledge, and goal clarity. Knowing yourself is also an important part that many students miss out on. It is important to be self-aware about your strengths, weaknesses, what you think about yourself, etc. This is what might differentiate you from the other candidates that have come for the interview.
One classic question that you must have heard in every interview is ‘Tell me about yourself’. However monotonous the question may sound; the fact is that this could either make or break your interview. You need to be brief about your family, career goals, hobbies, interests while touching up briefly about your education and future plans. Do not talk about the past.
Once you have laid the foundation for the interview, the panel asks you questions from your resume that they would like to deep dive into or know more about. This is also to check whether your work experience is genuine or not and if you have adequate knowledge about it. This is the chance to answer the questions based on your strengths and to drive the interview in your direction. It is also advisable to request someone with experience or a friend to review your resume which might help you identify the weaknesses that the panelists can objectively look at. This will help you strategize and prepare your answers positively.
Remember to get all queries related to your personal and professional interests answered by the expert panelists taking your interview. While you should refrain from asking questions that can be easily answered on the school website, not asking questions might send across a signal of being uninterested in their B-school.
One single biggest mistake that candidates make is thinking that they’ll be able to easily answer the common questions. But these are the questions that you have to prepare for since they can make or break the interview for you. Let us now look at some of the most common questions.
- Tell me about a time when you failed
- Do not start by highlighting your strengths and achievements. Discuss a failure that you were a part of and it wasn’t detrimental to the organization. They want to understand if you were able to understand the problem from different perspectives and angles. You need to remember these things while answering this question
- Avoid selecting a failure in which you had played a minor role
- Don’t talk about pseudo failures where the situation seems like a failure but the outcome is eventually a disguised success
- Mention what you learned from the failure and if you were able to apply these lessons
- Can you describe a personal or professional conflict and how you handled it?
- To respond to this question, you need to remain objective and not look at this as a chance to bad mouth your boss or colleagues. Do not tell them about an interview that you had started as you may be seen as argumentative. Talk about a conflict in which you were involved and explain it in detail. Explain how the conflict ended then explain how part along with your learning if applicable
- Which other business schools have you applied to?
- The interviewer here wants to understand what they are competing against. They like to see if your choice of schools has been the first 5 in the list of ranked schools or if you have you applied any thought behind it which reflects your thoughtfulness. You need to demonstrate that your selection of b-schools has been based on careful analysis and that their b-school is best for you and you should be considered
- What are your short term and long term career goals?
- Explain what is your goal, why is it important to you and how would you achieve them
- Tell us about a time when you demonstrated leadership skills
- Talk about instances where you overcame challenging situations or where you lead the team. This does not necessarily have to be from your professional experience. It can also be from your personal life. Highlight a situation if you lead a team and helped your group realize it
While you might be tempted to list all your prizes and accomplishments, listing your experiences and actions are more engaging. That is what the panelists are looking for in an aspirant. Remember to respond physically to your panelists like- maintaining eye contact, nodding, and observing their body language which will help you gauge whether the conversation is going in your favor or not. And always remember that if you can convert this Q&A session into an interactive and engaging session where people get to know each other, you have fulfilled your motive.