First steps on how to approach an interview?
Do your homework
Have well thought out answers for questions such as "What are your strengths? Why are you right for that particular business school? Why is that particular program right for you?" It shows organization and forethought if you know some specifics about the program to which you are applying and can explain why those features fit well with your career goals.
For example, if you are applying to the Xavier Labour Relation Institute (XLRI), through some simple research you will discover that they are strong in Human Resource Development. Perhaps, you have worked with a recruitment company or have been a trainer in an institute. Relate these in the interview.
Don't Waste Time
Don't waste time discussing things that are already indicated on your application. You can elaborate if the topic illustrates something about your character and preparedness for the b-school experience, but do not be redundant.
Remember that the first impression you create is very important. When asked to say "something about yourself", most candidates just blurt out their schooling, college, marks and qualifications. All this is already there in the application. Why tell the interviewer something he/she already knows. Ideally, you would want to use this opportunity to show how you are different from the thousands of other applicants, not to blend in to the crowd.
A final word on approaching this question. After you have said what you have to say - don't venture any further. Don't drone. You just might say something foolish. Sometimes interviewers don't interrupt in order to give the candidate the impression that he has not spoken enough. This is just a stress/error inducing tactic. Don't fall for it. If the pause gets too awkward for your liking, just add something very politely like, "Is there something specific that you would like to know about me?"
What you'll Be Asked?
You should be prepared for these potential areas of questioning:
- Your childhood, personality, family, college life, hobbies, sports and outside interests
- Your professional and leadership experience
- Your career goals, political views and breadth of business knowledge
- Your motivation to obtain an MBA; why now, why our school
Be prepared for a wide range of questions, from casual inquiries about your family to probing questions about ethical/legal issues. Also be prepared for general questions about current events and items of interest in popular culture. Nothing is more disheartening than interviewing an "academic genius" who doesn't know who is the Deputy Prime Minister or Vice -President of the Country.
How an interview commences?
A typical interview covers more than one theme. You are generally asked to first introduce yourself to the panel members. Remember that this is your opportunity to 'lead' the interview into areas that you are comfortable with or to topics that you wish to discuss.
It is quite important to highlight your achievements, whether academic or extra-curricular, in your introduction itself. Don't wait for the panel members to specifically ask you about them. Other things that you could mention in your introduction are your family and academic background, hobbies and interests, goals and aims in life, your strengths and weaknesses etc.
In fact, you could say almost anything as long as it is relevant, in the sense, that it reveals something about you as a person.
Academics/ Work experience
Interviews also centre on questions pertaining to academics, especially for all the freshers. Once again, it is hardly a good strategy to open your books just a few days before the interview and try to mug up whatever you think is important for the interview.
Try to ensure instead that you are keeping up with the subjects in your undergraduate course, are comfortable with the basics of the course and ready to answer application-based questions on these subjects.
If you appear to be the kind of person who picks up his books just to pass your examinations, the interviewers are likely to probe you further to check your genuine interest in the course you are currently pursuing and whether you, as a student, have really taken in something.
Remember that the people who are interviewing you are professors; they are unlikely to be too impressed if you seem to forget everything that you are supposed to have learnt just a few weeks/ months back!
If you have work experience, you can expect some questions around that. Besides your role in your current organisation, be ready for questions about latest developments in the industry/ sector that you are working in.
For example, if you work in an IT firm, you could expect questions relating to significant developments or news pertaining to that sector, any major acquisition that has taken place, questions like which are the four or five largest firms in the IT sector, what different software products or solutions they offer etc. Hence, it is necessary to know your industry/ sector well and keep yourself up-to-date with the latest developments.
Current awareness/ Business awareness
You could be asked questions pertaining to the world of business and important developments. The more you read the more confident and comfortable you will be and ready to answer any question that is thrown at you.
Importantly, here too, you may be able to come up with a unique insight or logic that impresses the interviewer and wins the day for you. The candidate who has prepared for just a few days is likely to be unable to go beyond the basic view or opinion which the tired interviewer has already heard from other candidates s/he has interviewed during the day.
So make sure you read the newspaper, including the business section, everyday. In addition, reading a general magazine will also help. But, more importantly, it is crucial for you to try and analyze developments and develop your point of view regarding these.
Make sure that your opinion is backed with strong logic and is not just an opinion without any substance.
- In summary, make sure you do the following while preparing for interviews:
- Read extensively and widely; and do not keep your focus or sphere of knowledge too narrow.
- Keep up-to-date with all the latest important developments, especially the ones pertaining to the world of business.li>
- Make sure that you keep up with your academic course as it is taught at your colleges; do not try to mug up things at the last moment. Questions in your interviews may not be limited to what you are studying in your final year only.
- Think about what all you could state in response to standard interview questions.