December is the season where a lot of MBA applicants are looking for that one special gift. A call from admissions committees telling them they’ve been admitted to their favorite MBA programs. As such, applicants begin to focus more on their applications and prepare intensely for interviews. Unfortunately, executing a good interview is a difficult task. Like just about every meeting you’ve ever had, an MBA interview can take an innumerable number of twists and turns, so it’s imperative that you go into your interview prepared.
In a recent post on MBA interviews (click here to read the post) I wrote a bit about what it means to be prepared, discussing “research” and “fit” This post is an extension of the first post. And here I not only emphasize how to prepare for questions that might come up, but also how to stay prepared for the twists and turns that the interview might take.
Below are two additional tips that will help you to successfully navigate the interview process.
1. Know Your Application. Part of proving fit in the application process is being consistent with what you wrote in your application – what you included on your resume, the information you wrote in the data form, the high level content of your recommendations, and the stories you described in your essays. Generally, be ready to discuss every line of your resume and to elaborate on the important pieces of everything else. Specifically, focus on the high-impact issues, which can be critical in shorter interviews because time is limited, the stakes are high, and in many cases those issues add more value to your candidacy. Similarly, focus on issues that may appear to be inconsistent on the surface as these subjects tend to catch the attention of interviewees right away. And remember that anything you wrote in your application is fair game; so never be caught off guard.
2. Don’t Memorize. Because time is limited, in most cases it doesn’t make sense to try to memorize details of your application. First, it won’t do you much good if you invest time in areas that never come up, which is likely in a 30 to 45 minute MBA interview. Second, even if it does come up, you don’t want to appear to be robotic or be too strongly convinced that the interview should go in a certain direction, especially if the interviewer is steering you otherwise. On the other hand, not memorizing also means that you won’t have time to think about every possible answer that may arise. But that’s fine. It’s more important that you think critically about the issues and provide thoughtful and organized responses, in place of memorized ones. So think about all the issues ahead of time and be prepared to discuss them analytically. The best way to prepare for that is to practice. But once again, don’t memorize.
If it’s any consolation, I’ll be employing many of the same methods during my MBA recruiting process too. Not only do many of the tactics will overlap but the timing does as well, as many MBA interviews also happen in January and February.
Best of luck everyone with your upcoming interviews!