Make Your Business School Interview A Conversation

by on September 1st, 2009

Some call it an interview while others call it a brutal screening tool.  I call it a conversation. Since I am a psychology guy at heart, I always like to change the outlook and make it easier for me to deal with what is at hand.

First of all, just as many of your conversations with your friends, family and colleagues are different, so will be the ones with the b-schools as they don’t all follow the same template.  As I used to tell my players (I was a soccer coach for 15 years), “psych yourself up”, not out.  So that is what we are going to do here.  Here is my coaching coming back into play:

Enjoy It

For valid reasons, people dread, but you should approach the interview as a conversation to be enjoyed, not an ordeal to be slogged through.  They want to get a sense of you as a whole person so if you are comfortable with yourself, it should be enjoyable since it as about “you.”

Make It An Information Session

You can use this as way for you to learn more about their program and school.  Of course, they are evaluating you as well but flip the script and make sure you are ready to evaluate them as a potential fit for you.  Of course, ask about topics you genuinely care about as you want to appear sincere and interested, not desperate for something to say.

Learning Tool

It is always great to learn more about yourself and how you handle situations.  Make it a learning experience to work on bettering you. So if an interview is offered, take it.  You should find out how you can make yourself more compelling. This should hopefully help you beyond just being a b-school candidate (whether dating, friendship, networking or career conversations).  For me personally, I found out that I needed (and sometimes still need) to work on displaying more of my enthusiasm and passion in my conversations about my goals and personal history.  It was of course easier to display that when I spoke about my hobbies such as basketball but that is why you should learn from your conversations. Plus I would run on with y answers instead of being short and informative. On the positive side, I like to use my sense of humor to help fill in the conversation blanks.  What about you…Do you reveal insecurities or are you a good listener?

Rationalization

Boost your confidence.  Basically we justify what we did well in the conversation.  Were you calm and focused? Did you express yourself and your ideas clearly? Maybe your answers were not the best but you developed a solid rapport with the interviewer. Take some positive elements from the conversation and build yourself up from that so the next time you get better.

Converse Smarter, Not Harder

Interviews are conducted by students, faculty, admissions staff or alumni. Don’t dismiss students as lightweights; they follow a tight script and report back to the admissions committee. Because they are relatively inexperienced as interviewers, however, these sessions are more likely to be duds. You may have to make some changes to how you converse with the different types of people so you can always get your points across.

The 3 P’s – Practice, Practice, Practice

Talk to your friends, family and colleagues.  Practice speaking about your accomplishments, goals and professional experience. Develop your depth of your personality, motivation, knowledge of the field and the particular schools. Prepare two or three points about yourself that you want the interviewer to remember you by. Come armed with examples, or even a portfolio of your work, to showcase your achievements. Finally, be prepared to give a strong and convincing answer to “Why here, why now?”

Sharing

Share your experience with people you know going through the same process – it helps.  Or just share with your friends, family and colleagues.

No sway…Yes way!

Your conversation often sways a decision.  Make an impact so your application is stamped, sealed and delivered YES.

Good Luck in Your Conversations!

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