How should I prepare for MBA Admissions Interview? What are the skills, personalities and fit that top schools like Harvard, Stanford and Wharton are trying to figure out through the interview? Are there any additional aspect of my application that should be highlighted in the interview or consistency is the key?
In plain English, through the interview process, they want to know that you can listen, respond and connect with another human being in front of you (not everyone is good at that!). It is not just your ability to talk, but also your ability to communicate effectively face-to-face with another human being.
To do this, practice talking about your candidacy OUT LOUD. Either talking about it to someone (friend, family member, spouse, dog, cat, hamster, etc.) or to yourself (yes, it will sound strange and weird at first).
Interviews are not intellectual exercises. They are not carefully rehearsed speeches. A great interview is one where BOTH the interviewer and interviewee are fully engaged in conversation (but obviously with the interviewee doing most of the talking).
Conversation = talking.
You don't get "good" at interviews by reading books, writing notes, or doing anything where it's all in your head. You have to get used to hearing these very themes coming out of your own voice – your career goals, why "b-school X" is the right place for you, what you've accomplished, your strengths and weaknesses, and so forth.
If you're not used to actually talking about this out loud - it's going to come across as awkward no matter how much you've "read" your notes or "written down" stuff or memorized complete threads of "monologues" in silence. The interview room is NOT the best place to be vocalizing this stuff for the first time.
It has to be in your body, not just in your head -- so that it comes across as natural and engaging. If it is all in your head and not fully in your body (i.e. so that your body language responds to what you are actually saying), you WILL come across as disconnected, disengaged, distant, and dull.
Talking is a physical activity. Nervousness is a physical condition.
The more comfortable you are talking OUT LOUD about these things we normally don't talk about everyday in our lives (why MBA, goals, accomplishments, failures, etc.) the less nervous you will get no matter how big the stakes are because YOU are the expert on yourself, and you are used to talking about it.
It's not about coming up with carefully scripted answers to specific questions - because an astute interviewer will pick up on the fact that it's carefully scripted. Insincerity or lack of authenticity is what KILLS you in an interview more than a stumble of a word here or there. No one, including the adcom or interviewer, likes to feel that they're being played or that you are putting on an artificial front - no matter how substantive you think you are, if you come across as insincere or "scripted", it is death.
So how do you "prepare" for something where you are supposed to come across as spontaneous and authentic as if you were answering their question for the first time? You do so by practice, practice, practice until you are so used to talking about it aloud that you can improvise around it. Anyone who has done sales will know what I mean. An interview is basically a sales pitch - with the product being YOU. A great sales pitch isn't one that sounds carefully scripted, but one where the sales person knows the underlying sales points and product so well that he/she can respond in the moment without thinking and can then improvise -- the more one physically talks it out, the smoother and more comfortable one becomes with the material.
Interviewing is a physical activity - treat your preparation as such (and this goes with MBA recruiting as well -- i.e. you get better at case interviews by physically talking it out - being good at case interviews isn't purely about your "thinking process" but about being good at "verbalizing" your thinking process).
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Getting into Harvard MBA is Not Like Catching a Shooting Star
Most applicants have this strange notion that you cannot get into Harvard MBA program without climbing Mount Everest, or leading a start-up to an IPO.
Trust us, we evaluated a few Harvard MBA Admits. They are like you, but with one difference.
They are Masters at Personal Branding.
We will teach you:
1) How you should start the essay knowing that extroversion and passion are valued in Harvard MBA?
2) How you should demonstrate Active Learning?
3) How you should demonstrate confidence in decision-making?
4) How you should demonstrate your succinct communication skills?
5) How you should demonstrate your potential as an effective FIELD team member?
Also Included in the Essay Guide:
1) Six positioning tips that you should consider for your essay.
2) Two Sample Essays
Download F1GMAT's Harvard MBA Essay Guide 2016-17
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