Generally, interview forms the last stage of admission in top B-schools. The purpose of the interview is to assess the personality traits of the candidates. Given below is the list of important things to consider while appearing for an MBA interview:
- Knowing yourself is the starting point: You need to understand that the personal interview is all about you; and no one knows you better than you yourself. This warrants for understanding your strengths and weaknesses. Strengths need to be substantiated with circumstantial evidence and examples, while weaknesses need a remedial action plan.
- Have clarity on basic personality areas : You need to have an understanding of your personality traits and the way these are mapped with those of professional managers. For example, successful managers are high on initiative and are powered by positive attitude. Look for these traits in your personality and support them with illustrations and examples.
- Be sure about reasons for joining the program :Your success in the interview is largely dependent on your goal clarity and the way you communicate this to the panel. A high co-relation between your goals and the way the management school serves as a platform for you to achieve them, works in favour of your candidature.
Know the Panel
- Research the panel w.r.t possible expectations: It is imperative for you to understand the ‘needs’ of the panel –the expectations they have of you in terms of program suitability. Once you understand these needs, it becomes easier for you to connect with the panel. These needs would be stated in the institute brochure/website, and would be both generic and specific. At a generic level, these include interpersonal skills, team dynamics/collaboration, leadership, initiative, time management, adherence to professional ethics etc. The institute specific needs would depend on the school you are applying to.
- Know about their vision/mission : Knowing the vision/mission of the institute enables you to establish a stronger link with the program and the panel. This also enhances your ability to synchronize your vision/mission with that of the institute, which is a highly desirable situation.
- Try finding out ways in which they are unique : Understanding the unique value proposition of the institute enables you to market yourself more effectively. For example, certain schools lay a lot of emphasis on corporate social responsibility, thus creating an opportunity for you to project your sense of social cause through participation in activities with a strong social fabric.
Lead the Panel
- Try getting them on to your areas of strengths : The pattern of questions in the interview is generally driven by an action reaction mechanism. Your inputs serve as substantial anchors for the panel to engage with you; hence the need for dropping innocuous teasers!
- Elaborate points which you are sure of : Don’t introduce a weak link or a thread which you are not capable of holding onto. The interview is largely an opportunity for you to validate the claims made either previously (in the application form/resume) or during interaction with the panel.
- Synchronize verbal and non-verbal communication : Make sure that your communication is effective and there is resonating harmony between your speech and body language. Any discrepancy between the two will be indicative of low confidence or self-doubt, leading to an adverse situation.
Minimize Opportunity Cost
- Leverage time to your advantage : You have limited time to create likability for yourself. Don’t waste this time in mentioning something which you are not sure of.
- Avoid getting into discussions when not confident : Getting into an argument which goes awry and tangentially off the handle, will only add to the opportunity cost. You are advised not to get emotionally attached to your view points.
- Need to sense the exit point for a particular discussion thread : Time is a resource; so leverage it in your favour. Exiting a discussion at the appropriate time is a step in this direction.
- Play on strengths : Put forth only those aspects of your profile which you are confident about. The interview will pose multiple opportunities for you to introduce your strengths and areas of comfort. Seize these opportunities and build your connect with the panel around these points.
- Create trust and credibility : Trust is a function of your past prowess in delivering value. Project your achievements in a way which convinces the panel of your credibility. This may be done through a reference to academic brilliance or accomplishments in terms of extra- curricular activities.
- Manage emotions : This works in a dual manner- managing your emotions and those of the panellists. Managing your emotions will enable you to come across as a more balanced and poised person; while managing the emotions of the panellists will help you understand the right entry and exit points.
- Give logical propositions : Nothing beats logic! Your ability to persuade the panel will be stronger if your proposition is backed by logic and reason.