Interview season is well underway for Round 2 business school applicants, which means this is the time of year when we give our MBA admissions consulting clients a great deal of interview preparation. No amount though will guarantee that your interview will go well, but there is plenty that you can do to improve your chances of success.
For one, it helps to know who will conduct your interview. As we have written before, interview styles tend to vary by interviewer type, with admissions officers conducting the most formal, directed interviews and alumni tending to be the most casual. However, no matter who interviews you, a few basic rules of engagement always apply.
Perhaps the surest sign that an interview is going badly is when you find yourself rambling through answers. This means that you were not prepared for the question, or you have an answer but can’t present it in a brief, coherent way. Your answers should be conversational, but should always have a clear beginning, middle, and end, and should take no more than a minute or two each.
Exhibit Confidence, Not Arrogance
You come off as confident without being arrogant. Many interview experts stress that you need to project confidence, while others tell their clients they absolutely cannot come off as arrogant. You don’t want the interviewer to feel sorry for you as you sweat through every question and answer (there IS such a thing as too much humility), but as little humility is always appealing.
Make It a Conversation, Not a Monologue
For sure, the main point of an admissions interview is for the interviewer to learn about you. But, if you are getting absolutely no feedback as you plow through your answers, that may not be a good sign. The more that your answers spark your interviewer’s interest or give him an opportunity to share a little bit of himself, the better your interview is probably going.
Know Which Three or Four Themes You Absolutely Must Hit
If you go into the interview knowing that you need to really drive home your leadership ability and your analytical skills, then you absolutely must do that by the end of the interview! Interviews often start off with “Walk me through your resume,” or “Tell me about yourself” — this is a great way for you to hit on your key themes right away.