MBA Admissions interviews are always important – the candidate knows that a strong performance at this juncture will mean a sure admission, while an unconvincing one will mean the end of the road this time round. Here are five critical mistakes we have seen candidates make over the years, and tips on how to avoid the errors:
Wanting to do an MBA for a higher salary: While it is fine to have a higher salary as one of the aims for doing an MBA, don’t make it your overbearing aim. Your aim should be to take up a different line of work (say, moving from software coding to project management) or a different business function entirely (say, moving from operations to marketing), which might have associated salary benefits too. Stating that you want to go for an MBA because the job you will get post the MBA will carry a higher salary will not go down too well with admissions committees. This is because it is possible for you to get a higher salary through various other means as well, and you are not placing any value on the scholastic and skill aspects of the MBA. On the other hand, tying an MBA with a desire to change the function you work in will involve the mention of these aspects and will make your answer well-rounded.
Not polishing up your general awareness about your Domain: Some candidates make the critical mistake of facing an interview panel without polishing up their domain knowledge outside of their area of work. Their reasoning is that they carry out a specific function within the organization (say, managing compensation and benefits) and so need not have much of an understanding of their domain outside this function (say, recruitment). Remember that the interview panel will often not be able to distinguish the boundaries of your work from those of other topics in your domain. They will probably end up asking you some questions about your domain but outside your area of operation. Make sure you are ready for these questions.
Criticizing your current organization/College/School: When explaining the reasons for wanting to do an MBA, remember not to criticize your current firm or your past education. Some candidates will make the mistake of saying that they are ‘forced’ to opt for an MBA because their line of education/profession does not give them any growth or opportunities. As this is hardly ever true, your interviewers will end up assuming that you are not dynamic enough to spot opportunities that are there. A better way is to state the facts, state the possible opportunities, and then explain why you feel an MBA will help you seize on the opportunities better.
Saying that you have no weaknesses: Every candidate has some weakness that he or she has yet to overcome. Taking the sanctimonious view that you have no weaknesses or that your weaknesses are ‘too minor to be mentioned’ will only get you into trouble. It will convey the impression that you are not self-aware or that you are unwilling to admit your weaknesses. Think through what your weaknesses are before you go for the interview.
Using the word ‘etcetra’ (etc) frequently: This really seems like a minor point, doesn’t it? It isn’t! Using the word ‘et cetra’ gives your answers an air of casualty, and makes it seem as if you are not thinking your responses through. Even if you have to spell out a list, avoid the use of the word ‘etcetra’. In fact, avoiding the use of this word in your entire application (including your interview) is a very good idea.
The Guide offers detailed examples and strategies to answer about yourself, career summary, innovation, frequent job switch, managing change, handling conflict, the greatest accomplishment, low grades, difficult boss, backup plan, industry, role and gives you tips on managing first impression, improve likeability and lists the questions that you should ask the MBA Admission interviewer.
1) Booth School of Business
2) Columbia Business School
3) Ivey Business School
4) Johnson Graduate School of Management
6) Kellogg School of Management
7) Stanford Graduate School of Business
8) London Business School
9) Harvard Business School
10) MIT Sloan School of Management
11) Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania