Congrats on Submitting Your MBA Application—What to Do Next? – Part 1
Kudos to all of you who successfully got your Round 1 MBA applications in on time!
For some of you that may have meant some late nights polishing your essays, fumbling through the online applications, and bugging your recommenders. For others, it may have been more of a leisurely stroll to the finish line. In any case, it certainly is deserving of a high-five and a weekend off. But now it is time to get back to work.
Work here generally falls into two categories: preparing for your hoped-for MBA interviews, and starting Round 2 applications. Today, we will talk about the interviews, and tomorrow strategizing for Round 2 MBA applications.
A few things you should make note of as you start your MBA interview preparation. Interviews are almost always required to gain admission to a top MBA program. The chance of acceptance to a program rises from single digits and teens to about 40–50% for those who are invited to interview. So, it’s now time to sharpen your interview skills. Interviews are that important. Here are some tips.
1. Know your resume.
At many schools, the only information an interviewer may have is your resume. Your resume is going to be the focus of your discussion. Therefore, you must know your resume in-and-out and upside-down.
In real terms, this means remembering all those small points, random numbers, and overly general descriptives that populate most resumes. Remember how you wrote on your resume, that you “cut costs by 30 percent?” Well, guess what, the MBA interview is exactly the place where they will call you on that with questions like “How did you calculate that number?” “Did you do it by yourself?” “What role did you play as a leader?” Get ready to talk to even the smallest bullet point on your resume, because that is where most people get tripped up.
2. Get ready to be interesting.
I frequently tell my clients that interesting applicants are those who have a unique story to tell; a story that no one else is telling. Stay away from talking about how you ran a marathon, love to travel, or are a “foodie.” The person ahead of you and behind you are saying the same things. Instead, focus on the unique piece of your story that may have not come out in other parts of your application. What’s YOUR story? Get ready to tell it.
3. Know the school.
An interview is frequently a test to see how you will fit in to the business school community, how you will get involved, and how excited you will be to attend. (NOTE: Admissions committees pass up plenty of well qualified candidates who they suspect will not attend if admitted.) In order to properly communicate all of this, you really have to know the MBA program intimately.
Now is the time (likely your last chance) to talk to students and alumni, to connect with club leaders, and, if you haven’t yet, to visit the school. Nothing will impress an interviewer more than the fact that you know exactly why you want to attend their school, know how you will contribute and are dying to go. Remember, specificity equals credibility.
4. Know the interview.
As noted above, many of MBA programs will have resume-focused interviews but not all. Know what kind of interview to expect before you arrive. The Wharton “interview”, for example, is a Team Based Discussion.
Candidates are asked to prepare a one-minute pitch which they share with 4-5 other prospective students. The group then needs to work together to blend all of the ideas into a single pitch to the admissions committee facilitator—in just 35 minutes.
The Sloan MBA interview requires an additional essay before the interview. For the HBS interview you must submit an additional essay within 24 hours of the interview. Look forward to a group activity at the local pizza place if you are invited to interview at Michigan-Ross. So, be prepared for each of these different animals.
Of course, preparing for your MBA interview is only one thing you need to do after hitting that submit button. The other is figuring out what you are going to do for Round 2. That we will discuss in the next post.
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