The personal interview (PI) is an important part of B-school selection process. It is your chance to impress the panelists and succeed. It may be the first interview for most of the candidates applying for a B-school admission. Yet, some candidates prepare so well that they glide their way smoothly through the interview process.
The personal interview is generally the final step towards admission and is the hardest round to clear in the selection process for the MBA program. This may be attributed to the fact that in spite of your rigorous preparation, you may not be able to predict the questions that the interviewer might ask. At times, the interviewers may even pose unexpected questions that can make you feel uncomfortable. In such situations, you must try to stay calm and focused while answering questions, as such questions are meant to test your ability to act under stress.
Candidates are not expected to come up with a correct answer for every question. But they are expected to give answers that make sense. So, try to give thoughtful answers in an honest way without committing the mistakes that can come in the way of your selection.
A list of the common mistakes that candidates must avoid during an interview can be of help in the last minute preparations. Here are some of the most common mistakes that must be avoided to be able to make a positive impact on the interviewer.
Reporting Late for the Interview
Try to make every effort to be present for the interview well before the scheduled time. This would allow you to feel relaxed and be at ease. But, in case of an emergency, do make it a point to inform the college authorities in time.
If you have informed the college with a valid reason for your delay, it would demonstrate your professionalism. On the contrary, arriving late for the interview without informing the interviewer would make a negative impact.
Dressing up Inappropriately
The interview at the B-school could be the first chance at the formal interview for most of the candidates. So, it is necessary that they do not end up making blunders on that front. The right way to go for the interview is wearing a business suit—neat and nicely ironed—with polished formal shoes. Girls should avoid bright colored business suits, heavy make-up, gaudy jewelry and bold perfumes. Boys, on the other hand, should avoid wearing informal/ semi-formal clothes, at the worse—going absolutely casual.
Going Off the Track
Avoid going off the track or giving irrelevant answers. For example, if the interviewer asks you “what are your views on the current financial policies adopted by India’s Finance Minister? do not present your views on America’s or any other country’s financial policies just for the sake of showing off your knowledge.
Furthermore, you should not be evasive about questions on your weak areas such as poor grades. Do not try to hide anything. Instead, try to give honest answers to make a positive impact on the interviewer. It is better not to give excuses for your past failures or lack of determination and hard work to achieve the goals.
Avoiding Eye Contact
A confident candidate, who has prepared well for the interview is expected to give answers by making good eye contact with the interviewer. Maintaining eye contact with the interviewer shows that the candidate is confident and cares about what the interviewer is saying. Making eye contact also demonstrates that the candidate is actively engaged in the discussion.
Absence of eye contact or even an inconsiderate handshake can indicate that you are not confident and trying to hide something. The advice is to be confident and let it show through your body language.
Exaggeration and Overstating
It is better not to exaggerate facts or lie about something just to impress the interview panelists. The interview panel is more experienced and smart than you are. Trying to hide certain facts can be annoying for any interviewer and might hurt your chance of obtaining admission to the B-school of your choice.
Misleading facts and overstated information can never take you too far. So, be yourself and structure your answers around authentic facts and figures.
Not Using Your Past Achievements to Impress
Candidates who tell their success stories from the past will have more chances to crack the interview as opposed to candidates who do not t talk about their past accomplishments. Try to talk about the situations when you achieved your goal or target in spite of unfavorable conditions. This would demonstrate your perseverance and hard work to accomplish your goals. For example, if a candidate has succeeded in getting good grades in his high school examinations despite the fact that he was participating in the district level cricket tournament which was coinciding with the examinations. It can be a good rationale to prove that you can multi-task and yet deliver good performance.
Not Maintaining Decorum
It shows lack of manners when you speak with the interviewer by calling his or her first name unless the interviewer allows you. The interviewer might get offended when you address the interviewers by their first names. Similarly, candidates are not expected to ask personal questions without the permission of an interviewer as it may suggest that the candidate is unprofessional.
Interrupting the Interviewer
It is unprofessional to interrupt when the interviewer is speaking. Wait until the interviewer has completed his statement and reply accordingly. If you make haste while answering the questions or interrupt the interviewer, it would demonstrate your impatience, and over-confidence. So, never interrupt the interviewer.
Lack of Preparation
When it is your chance to ask some questions, do not mute your expressions and give an impression as if you do not have anything to ask. Utilize this opportunity to express your thoughts and future prospects in the college. Candidates who do not ask questions when they get the chance generally portray their lack of preparation and unwillingness to know more about the college. Try to prepare 3-4 relevant questions before the interview that you would like to ask about the college, if given a chance.
You should not react negatively by making inappropriate statements in response to the opinions made by other candidates, current students or even alumni of the college. It would be immature and unprofessional on your part to react negatively to the views expressed by other candidates or current students of the college. It is advised to maintain a neutral view to the statements made by others.
Remember, your first impression is going to make an everlasting impact. Try to make this impact a positive one by avoiding these common mistakes during the interview process. Do what it takes to prepare appropriately for the interview to be able to impress the panelists. Prepare thoroughly, try to give answers honestly, and be yourself. All the Best!