The art and science of admission interviews

MANAGEMENT EDUCATION

The art and science of admission interviews

BE PREPARED Phone interviews are the norm for international candidates who have qualified in the basic admission requirements.

For MBA aspirants who have applied for round 1 (i.e., November) deadlines for globally reputed MBA programs, the interview is an integral part of the admissions process. It is also a standard practice among B-schools, designed to surface talents and capabilities that are more tacit in nature, and therefore, less apparent in a written application.

B-school interviews are basically about testing your communication abilities, particularly in an improvised setting. What you say is important, but how you say it is more important.
International candidates, who have qualified in the basic admission requirements round, are allowed phone interviews. Alumni interviews are conducted for B-schools like ISB, Great Lakes, S P Jain, XLRI, IIIM PGX, etc, in select metros.

Commonly asked questions

You will be asked questions similar to those themes that recur throughout the admission process:

*What are your academic capabilities/ qualifications?
*What is your leadership experience and potential?
*We all have weaknesses. What are some of your major weaknesses?
*What are your strengths?
*What type of decisions do you have difficulty making?
*What is your work ethic? Give an example when your work ethic was challenged and how you dealt with it.
*What is your biggest failure?
*Describe your ideal career.
*Work experience - Where do you see yourself five years from now? Describe a major goal you have set for yourself recently.
*What has been your experience with working in teams?
*What do you expect to do with your MBA and what do you expect to get out of this program?
*What will you bring to enrich the class?
*What questions do you have about the program?

Preparation

Think long and hard about obvious questions that include — why a B-school? Why now?
You should be able to articulate this very well, verbally.

*Your response should be focused and purposeful.
*Communicate a pattern of interests and skills that relate to the B-school in question.
*Be alert and confident.

The duration of the interview may be anything from 30 minutes to an hour.

Specific B-school questions

Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University: You will be asked a number of questions about your application (objectives, motives). The questions will be in line with the issues addressed in the essays.

ISB: Related mostly to work and will have no reference to application essays.

*Why ISB?
* Questions on ISB?
* Why an MBA at this point of time?

The University of Chicago Booth School of Business

*10 minutes on your professional experience, starting from your first job.
*5 minutes on your extracurricular background, your present activities outside the professional realm and activities you would like to do in GSB?
*Why MBA? Why this school? What are your short-term goals? Where and what industry would you work in?
*What are you specifically looking to gain from this MBA program?
*How and when did you realise the need for an MBA?
*What are your questions on the school?

OLIN Business School (University of Washington in St. Louis)

*Why MBA? Why this school? When did you first hear of the school and how?
*Any questions on the school?
*3 adjectives to describe your strengths? If I talk to your colleagues, what would they say regarding these strengths — will they agree?
*What would they say about your weaknesses?
*What 3 criteria would you use to select an MBA school? In case you are accepted by all the schools you have applied to, which one would you choose and why?
*How do you spend your leisure time?
*Where and what industry do you want to work in? Why?

Do’s

*Be alert and confident
*Know in detail about the B-school programme you are applying for, thus showing enthusiasm about attending the B-school.
*Speak clearly and audibly.
*Be punctual for the interview. In case you want to reschedule the interview, do inform the admissions committee in advance.
*Select a sound-proof place for the interview
*Always have an alternate number for the phone interview.

Don’ts:

*Don’t put yourself in a position where you have to get into some B-school, no matter which.
*Don’t bluff or over-emphasise.
*Don’t be arrogant with the interviewer
*Don’t pose an accent
*Don’t sound bored.
*Don’t use a cordless phone.

Last, but not the least, consider the interview as one last opportunity to tilt the admit scale in your favour. If an interview is offered, grab the opportunity. For, in person, you tend to be more compelling and can address certain weaknesses or bring other positive qualities like enthusiasm, sense of humour and maturity to your talk and tip the scale in your favour.

(The writer is a senior consultant, Career Launcher)

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