Everyone wants to avoid making mistakes so that they can put their best foot forward during an MBA interview. In this article, we're going to explore some of the most common MBA interview mistakes and analyze how they can hurt your chances of getting accepted into an MBA program.
Being rude is one of the biggest MBA interview mistakes an applicant can make. Manners count in professional and academic settings. You should be kind, respectful, and polite to everyone you encounter - from the receptionist to the person who interviews you. Say please and thank you. Make eye contact and listen attentively to show that you are engaged in the conversation. Treat every person you speak with - whether it is a current student, alumni, or the director of admissions - as if he or she is the one making the final decision on your MBA application. Finally, don't forget to turn off your phone before the interview. Not doing so is incredibly rude.
Dominating the Interview
Admissions committees invite you for an MBA interview because they want to know more about you. That's why it is important to avoid dominating the interview. If you spend the entire time asking questions or giving lengthy answers to every question you're asked, your interviewers won't have time to get through their list of questions. Since most of what you asked will be open-ended (i.e. you won't get a lot of yes/no questions), you'll have to temper your responses so that you don't ramble. Answer each question fully, but do so with a response that is measured and as concise as possible.
Not Preparing Answers
Preparing for an MBA interview is a lot like preparing for a job interview. You pick out a professional outfit, practice your handshake, and above all, think about the type of questions the interviewer might ask you. If you make the mistake of not preparing your answers to common MBA interview questions, you'll end up regretting it at some point during the interview.
Start by thinking of your answers to the three most obvious questions first:
- Why do you want an MBA?
- Why did you choose this business school?
- What do you want to do with your MBA after graduation?
Then, perform a bit of self-reflection to consider your answers to the following questions:
- What are your strengths and weaknesses?
- What is your biggest regret?
- What are you passionate about?
- What can you contribute to an MBA program?
Finally, think about the things that you might be asked to explain:
- Why does your resume show gaps in your work experience?
- Why did you perform poorly in undergraduate classes?
- Why did you decide not to retake the GMAT?
- Why didn't you provide a recommendation from a direct supervisor?
Not Preparing Questions
Although most of the questions will come from the interviewer, you will probably be invited to ask a few questions of your own. Not planning out intelligent questions to ask is a big MBA interview mistake. You should take time before the interview, preferably several days before the interview, to craft at least three questions (five to seven questions would be even better). Think about what you really want to know about the school, and make sure the questions are not already answered on the school's website. When you get to the interview, don't spring your questions on the interviewer. Instead, wait until you are invited to ask questions.
Negativity of any kind won't help your cause. You should avoid badmouthing your boss, your co-workers, your job, your undergraduate professors, other business schools that rejected you, or anyone else. Criticizing others, even lightly, won't make you look better. In fact, the opposite is likely to occur. You could come across as a whiny complainer that can't handle conflict in professional or academic settings. That is not an image you want to project onto your personal brand.
Buckling Under Pressure
Your MBA interview might not go the way you want it to. You might have a tough interviewer, you might be having a bad day, you might misrepresent yourself in an unflattering way, or you might do a really poor job of answering a question or two. No matter what happens, it is important that you keep it together throughout the interview. If you make a mistake, move on. Don't cry, curse, walk out, or make any type of scene. Doing so demonstrates a lack of maturity and shows that you have the potential to buckle under pressure. An MBA program is a high-pressure environment. The admissions committee needs to know that you can have a bad moment or a bad day without completely falling apart.