In this article we shall discuss the START strategy, a critical tool you can use to perform well in an MBA interview.
S - Scan the Environment
The environment has two broad components – the organization and you! Understand the make-up of both the components. This calls for extensive, in-depth research. The organization needs to be researched with respect to points like vision, mission, quality policy, history, stakeholders, growth avenues, competitive strategies etc. In case of a business school, the research should dilate to include the core differentiators of the program, academic pedagogy, industry interface, social responsibility, cultural exchange programs etc. The other challenge here is to understand yourself better, which comprises areas like personal strengths/weaknesses, career ambitions/planning, education, family etc.
T - Tailor your Strategy
Once you understand the environment, tailor your strategy accordingly. This includes a synchronization between what the organization wants and what you are capable of offering. Your probability to succeed is high if there is resonance and positive co-relation between the two. For example, if the organization lays a lot of emphasis on social responsibility and your profile is demonstrative of engagement in socially useful and constructive work, then your expression of interest fits well in the organization’s eco system.
A - Apply the Strategy
This phase calls for an application of the formulated strategy. It requires keen vigilance and timely delivery. Apply both preventive and breakdown approaches, depending on the situation. While preventive strategy aims at preventing the occurrence of failure, breakdown entails an action plan once the failure has occurred. For example, the most strongly recommended preventive approach is to lead the panel into desirable questions by dropping innocuous teasers at the right points. The panel is likely to engage with you around these teasers, thus preventing uncomfortable situations. On the other hand, if the panel asks you a question the answer to which you are not sure of, then it makes logical sense to either take the panel to some other area (depending on the situation) or to accept ignorance and exit on a promissory note.
R - Reduce Errors
This phase requires you to keep the error level as low as possible.Errors can be minimized by minimizing the gap between the actual and the expected offering. This is possible if the first three steps are well adhered to.
T - Terminate Gracefully
The closure is as important as the opening. This part advocates a graceful exit; which may be looked from a dual perspective – exit to every question and the final exit! Treat each question as a challenging situation, which needs the right entry point, proper treatment there after and a conclusive and well- thought- of exit. On the other hand, also ensure that the final exit is smooth and pleasant. For example, your expression should not surface on your face at the point of exit. You may have had a great interview or a bad one – either ways you need to be poised and composed while separating from the panel!