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Tips for Virtual MBA Interviews

by Stacy Blackman Consulting, Nov 2, 2020

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Round 1 interview season is here! As the pandemic stretches on, business schools have said they will conduct only virtual MBA interviews this round—and potentially for the entire admissions cycle. You may already be an expert at Zoom meetings for work. But are you prepared to handle the stress that a virtual MBA interview will inevitably create?

Video interviewing is efficient but takes some time to get used to in order to come across naturally. Many people are distracted by their appearance. Others find themselves talking in a tone that's altogether different from a face-to-face conversation. Make sure you conduct various practice chats and seek feedback on your performance until you're satisfied that you're conversing with ease.

Before Your Virtual MBA Interviews

  • Prepare (and practice) succinct responses for all of the typical MBA-related questions: Why Program X, Why an MBA overall, Why now, What are your career goals, Summarize your career to date, education experience, and so on.
  • Then add some “fun” questions and responses into the mix: Review the last book you read/movie you saw/TV show you watched, What’s your favorite song and why, Where’s the best place you’ve gone on vacation, etc.
  • Record yourself answering these questions. Have a trusted friend review your responses and tell you how you’re coming off. Tweak your style accordingly.
  • When the big moment arrives, remember that no one is trying to trick you into embarrassing yourself. It’s just another opportunity for you to show what an asset you’ll be to an MBA program.

During the Interview

Dress to Impress

Have you been living in athleisure wear for the last seven months? Then it’s time to dust off your professional threads. “You might be sitting near your bed, but you shouldn’t look like you just rolled out of it,” says this piece with virtual interview tips from Harvard Business School.

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Most applicants have a clear grasp of the meaning of professional dress. Yet several admissions officers report that the standard seems to slide in virtual interviews, particularly when it comes to the apparel below the desk. If you need to stand up for any reason during the interview and have nothing but boxers on, rest assured that is an impression the interviewer won't soon forget.

Finally, there’s this bonus per HBS: studies show that people feel “most authoritative, trustworthy, and competent when wearing formal business attire.”

Set the Stage

First, you’ll want to do the interview in a quiet room with little echo. Make sure your surroundings look tidy and professional. If you live with others, the Booth Experience blog suggests letting them know your MBA interview time in advance. “Having an entire household on one network could potentially cause a lag,” they warn.

Next, think about how you’ll illuminate the space. In this video from Chicago Booth Review, journalist and broadcaster Steven Carroll emphasizes the importance of good lighting.

Use natural light if possible, avoid overhead lighting, and shine a light directly at your face. “Your face is a huge tool for communication, and you want the people you’re speaking to to be able to see you,” he says.

Also important: positioning the camera at eye level. If necessary, stack books under your laptop so your interviewer isn’t looking up your nose, Carroll suggests.

Mind Your Body Language

Your body language matters, even in virtual MBA interviews, says the Tuck Career Services team. Make a conscious effort to look straight at the camera lens instead of the computer screen. That’s the only way to appear like you’re maintaining eye contact.

“If the app allows you to move a small preview video of your interviewer around your screen, put it right next to your camera,” the Tuck team advises.

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Next, try to sit a bit farther back from the screen so that more of your hand gestures and body position are visible. This looks more natural and more like a face-to-face meeting in real life.

Avoid This

Above all, don’t lose your cool with tech glitches. Dropped audio or a frozen feed are almost par for the course. But admissions staff say how you react to the situation is what counts. Maintaining poise and keeping your frustration in check will leave a positive impression on your interviewer. Swearing at your speakers, on the other hand, will not.

SBC Video Prep Service

Many applicants require some rehearsal to become comfortable conversing with a computer screen. Stacy Blackman Consulting has an online video platform that grants you unlimited practice doing precisely this. You can answer from a comprehensive menu of questions, record yourself, watch and assess, tweak, and try again.

Invest 30 minutes a night and reap the benefits of increased comfort level and more articulate answers when you have your live interview. You can even choose an interview to submit to the SBC team for review and professional written feedback.

Set yourself up for success with this small investment and rock your virtual MBA interviews! Learn more and purchase your package here today.