The usual process of selection in an MBA program involves a written test followed by a group discussion and the personal interview rounds. While the personal interview is just one of the stages in the selection process, it can be the most important one, carrying the highest weightage in your overall performance expectations.
Your success in an interview depends on how well you respond to questions and drive the interview in a direction where you get to highlight your best skills. This is the only round in the selection procedure where your success isn’t affected by other participants and you can create a unique and effective impact on the panel members.
While we all know that life may not give us second chances all the time, a few tips can be helpful to make a good first impression at your interview for selection to the MBA program at the B-school of your choice. Let us have a look at some of the proven formulas for success in the personal interviews.
Dress right for the interview: This can give you an edge above the other candidates as your interviewers will in all probability see you before they hear you.So, knowing what to wear in an interview can help you strike a chord with the interviewing panel even before you’ve even introduced yourself. For girls, the advice is to avoid heavy perfume, makeup, and jewelry on interviews. Boys should preferably go with a clean-shaven look, short hair, and polished shoes. Both girls and boys should dress up in proper, neat and ironed business suits.
Show up on time: Reaching the venue late can be bad for the first impression,showing that you did not take enough pains to make it on time. If possible, you must try to time your travel to the venue from your place of stay, at least a day in advance just so that nothing goes wrong on the final day. Keep extra time for unforeseen delays such as traffic jams in your planning.
Perform a last minute check: It is good to have a look at yourself in the mirror before you enter for the interview for that tie knot that just might not be right. Make sure that your phone is switched off and put away in your pocket or bag. Carry only the essential certificates and degrees and have those ready neat, organized, and accessible.
Enter the room confidently and offer a firm handshake: For most of the students, this is the first interview of their lives. So, it is absolutely normal to be nervous before the interview. However, stay calm to avoid fumbling while you speak and maintain composure to look confident. Reinstate that with a firm handshake to look more convincing.
Check your smile: Be nice to everyone you meet right from the interview coordinators up to the senior-level executives. Remember, everyone’s opinion counts. Some interviewers even make it a point to check how you behaved with the front desk people when you entered the B-school to find out about your overall personality.
Know yourself, prepare well: From the long-term preparation involving your education and personal background to studying about the potential B-school and its culture, make sure you have precise information about the particulars of your records, about the B-school you are attending the interview for and the current happenings across the world. Follow news on TV and newspapers till the morning of interview day. You never know what could be a point for discussion in the interview.
Show interest: Even if you have gone for the interview to some B-school, which is not your primary choice for pursuing the MBA program, show your interest to the interview panel. So, when someone from the interviewers asks you “Why are you here at this B-school?”, you should be able to answer in a convincing manner. Portraying your disinterest may work against you and may result in your rejection, a major confidence buster at the time you need it the most.
Avoid filler words: Be as confident in your speech as your body language. Avoid filler words such as “umm”, “okay” and “like” to make up for the gaps in between sentences when you need time to think what to say next. You may instead compliment the question by saying something like “That’s an interesting question”to buy some time and structure your answer before starting to speak.
Make a mark for yourself: When asked to introduce yourself (generally the first question at every MBA interview), you should try to say what makes you unique rather than just explaining what you did. You are your best advocate and marketer under such circumstances. So,make the most of the opportunity by portraying yourself as the best and highlighting your Unique Selling Proposition.When asked questions about your weaknesses and the mistakes you have made, be natural and authentic, explain what you learnt from the experience, and don’t get defensive.
Pay equal attention: If you are being interviewed by several people at the same time, give everyone equal attention.You never know who might turn out to be the real decision maker. Never undermine the person sitting towards the side of the table and end up making eye contact or shaking hands with only the people sitting in the center.
Keep a positive attitude: Expressing a positive attitude is the single most valuable first impression you can make. If you are excited and able to show the interviewers that you are interested, your potential selectors will definitely be considering you for selection within two minutes of you walking through the door. The right attitude can actually have that good an impact on the panel members.
Be a good listener: A good interviewee must also be a good listener. Listen to the questions attentively and try to interpret them in terms of what the interviewers are looking for. The questions and the way in which they are asked, generally, provide clues to what the selection panel members need and expect. Never cut across or interrupt when an interviewer is speaking. Assuming the question before it is completed and giving pre-emptive answers gives a negative impression.
Remember that your key to success for selection to the MBA program in the primary business school of your choice is the personal interview. You get just a few seconds to make a good first impression and it’s almost impossible to be able to change it after the opportune moment has gone.
The majority of efforts that you need to put in for interview preparations involve common sense. And with just a little extra thought and preparation, you can perfect your unique style to make every first impression not just good but great!