A to Z Guide to MBA Interview Preparation

Interview forms a crucial part of selection process in any B-school. Personal interviews are conducted to assess the various traits of a candidate's personality and evaluate his/her suitability to various MBA programs. Generally, interview is the last stage of selection process. Here, we have covered various aspects of Interview and the areas you should know about before appearing for your interviews. It is advised to research and probe these areas before you kick-start your preparation.
1. Scope of Interview
Before starting you interview preparation, learn and find out about the following:
  • Why is PI conducted? (purpose of interview)
  • What is the required skill set? What skills you should have?
  • What are evaluators looking for in a candidate? (Commitment/hardwork/passion/knowledge/personal skills)
  • Scope of preparation: Which areas should you prepare?
2. Introduction
After learning about the requisite skills and traits, the next step is to prepare for the essentially asked questions. The first and foremost is your introduction. Interviewers often ask questions like ‘Tell me about yourself’ or ‘State your biggest strength and weakness’
Identify 3-5 things from any information zone (Personal Information/Academic/Behavioural, Hobbies/Extra-curricular etc.) where you possess good knowledge/you are comfortable talking about it/ you would like to highlight. Try to make an introduction where you can directly/ indirectly pitch them along with some basic personal information.
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3. Personal Information (Factual)
Along with your introduction, you are likely to be enquired about the factual details of your personal information. These are generally:
Name Meaning, Surname, City, Parents, Siblings, Something unique in Family, Parents Profession/Family Business, School, College UG/PG if any, Professional Course/CA etc., your current city, native place, State, Any factual personal information mentioned in MBA Application form/essay submitted.
4. Persona (Behavioral Aspect)
Once the interview panel has known your factual information, it moves to the behavioral aspect of your personality. The panel tries to gauge your personality traits through certain direct questions. These are based on:
  • Your Strengths and Weaknesses
  • Your goals/dreams - Past, Present & Future
    (Goals can be Short Term/ Long Term, Professional/Personal)
  • Questions like: Why MBA? What does success mean to you? Why not become an entrepreneur?
    If not MBA, then what? (Other alternate careers)
  • Situation-based questions (to check your skills - Leadership/Team Skills/Conflict handling) - your behavioral stand
  • Your Role Model/Inspiration/Dream Job/Company
  • Event/Situation that changed your perspective of life
5. Academics
The next set of questions revolves around your academic knowledge, depending upon your particular graduate stream. There can be different types of academic questions based on - Pure Academics/Theory, Practical Aspects of your Course/Stream/Specialization (inference zone with commonly available Information), Futuristic/Industry/Research/Business Perspective of your course/stream/specialization, etc. Additionally, you may be asked questions related to:
  • Your 3 - 4 favourite subjects (in which you have knowledge)
  • Subjects in which you have scored well
  • Mathematics/Related Courses/Puzzles
  • Your Academic Performance Graph (especially if going down)
  • Questions Related to Projects/Internship/Training
6. Work Experience
In case of a candidate with work experience, questions are asked regarding his/her work at that particular company/organization. Questions are related to following three areas:
  • Your job profile, projects/assignments handled, major learning, why job changes (if any), what you like/dislike about your work, your typical day, knowledge about your clients/companies
  • Information about your company, company’s vision, top clients, verticals, sister concerns, products/services offered, turnover, employee strengths, future focus area
  • Information about your industry, Future trends, Innovations in your industry, Basic idea about market/industry
7. MBA Course
You need to be aware of the MBA programs offered by the particular B-school. Questions are often asked regarding your choice or preference of MBA specializations. It is good to acquire some basic knowledge about the institute, its MBA courses, specializations, placements packages/campus companies of that particular institute.
You may be asked questions like how will you add value/contribute to us?
8. Extra-Curricular (Hobbies/Interests/Sports)
After the round of academic questions, you may be asked questions regarding your extra-curricular activities. You may be asked questions like: Why you indulge/engage in particular activity? How it has shaped you? Why not career in it? What is your learning from it?
Further, the panel may want to know your level of engagement in it - amateur/professional and other relevant peripheral knowledge. If you mention social media, reading, TV, movies, etc., be prepared for questions on its knowledge.
9. Current Affairs
Another important type of questions is related to current happenings, national and international news. You are expected to have a basic knowledge about Economy (as a subject/Indian Economy), Socio-Political Economic Issues (Corruption, Poverty, Population, Education, Terrorism, Fundamentalism, etc.), current Issues related to Governmental Policies/Important happenings and other latest Judicial, Environmental, Technological, Religious topics, etc.
Acquire a broad understanding of India’s relations with neighbouring countries/issues involved and important International Issues (Environmental, Major issues/conflicts).
10. Probable Interview Topics/Themes/Action-Reaction Situations
Apart from knowledge-based questions, the panel may ask your views on some abstract or controversial topics. Also, you may have to encounter some questions based on your own conflicting answers. Given below is an overview of such themes that interview questions and situations may involve:
  • Views on Ethics/Morality/Values/Principles
  • Questions regarding your conflicting statements/wrong facts
  • Questions on your Bombastic Words/Technical Jargons/Knowledge
  • Abstract Topics/Extempore
  • Conflict among Interviewers
11. Behavioural/Situational Aspect (Disposition in an Interview)
While giving an interview, you often face different kind of situations regarding your level of knowledge and communication skills. Sometimes, candidates face stress interviews in top B-schools. A stress interview generally involves unpredictable/pressure/rapid fire round of questions.
It is always good to be prepared for such situations beforehand. Here is an overview of certain situational aspects of an interview.
Question-Answer situations:
  • When you know the answer thoroughly and would like to answer it (organize the ideas well, be prepared for further questions on it)
  • When you know the answer yet you should try to avoid it (unaware of detailed aspects)
  • When you know little bit and would like to answer (intelligent guess/brief answers)
  • When you know little bit and would not like to answer (depends on the question)/ask for time if you want to answer
  • When you don’t know anything (admit it humbly)
  • How to start answering and purposely divert from topic (to get questions from your knowledge area)
  • How to anticipate questions/create situations for expected questions?
  • How to defend your answers? (justify by facts, logic and examples)
  • When to question back for clarification (question not clearly understood)
  • When it is getting confusing, how to get out?
  • How to create a conversation in your favour?
  • When to stop conversing on a specific issue/topic?
  • How to structure your answer using different techniques?
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Additionally, some of the situations test your emotional intelligence:
  • Personal Disposition- Honest/Impressive, Humor/Wit
  • Can you create curiosity/emotions (empathy)
  • Your ego state (defending by telling lies)
  • Handling negative comments
  • When you are cornered/ Accepting Feedback
12. Communication Skills
You need to maintain a certain set of interview etiquettes for effective communication in an interview. Given below are important aspects of communication skills to keep in mind:
  • Gesticulation (gestures like hand movements)
  • Sitting Style/Posture
  • Pace of Speech
  • Voice Modulation
  • Eye Contact
  • Command over language
13. Flow of Actual Interview
Finally, learn about the non-verbal aspect of interview to give a good first impression to the panel. Know about the following things well before appearing for your interview:
  • Dressing and Appearance
  • Entry/Exit
  • Body Language
  • File/Document to carry
  • Duration of Interview
  • Timing of Interview
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