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How to prepare for an MBA interview

The process of applying to an MBA program can be a daunting one. As with any master’s program, the competition is quite stiff, and many more students apply than are accepted to business schools, particularly the most prestigious ones.

Your MBA application: acing the interview

One of the clinchers, however, is your interview with the school you’re applying to. While no effort should be spared to carefully prepare for every other aspect of your application, the interview is the school’s chance to get to know you as a person – which, needless to say, is much more than how you are represented on paper.

They want to hear, personally, your goals, aspirations, what you think your greatest qualities and achievements are, and – last but never least – how you will go on to represent them as a graduate of their institution. Here are some tips on acing your MBA interview – whether you apply to a domestic business school or an international business school, or a traditional program versus a one year MBA.

1. Review Your Application

You will be asked many questions during your MBA interview, which will likely take forty-five minutes to an hour. Reviewing your application prior to the interview – reminding yourself what you had to say during the application process – will assist you in being clear about the kind of person you are, what your goals are, and what you expect to achieve both during and after you complete your master’s in business administration.

2. Behave Professionally

This goes without saying, but some interviewees may mistake friendliness for casualness. Don’t be casual, don’t flirt or banter with your interviewer, and behave always as you would in a professional environment. It is of course acceptable to be friendly and even humorous – but within reason. Be sure to dress as you would for any other job interview and present yourself as well as you possibly can, personally and visually.

3. Expect Confrontation

“Confrontation” does not necessarily mean an argument. There may be information on your application that requires clarification – or justification – on the part of the institution. Remember that they are interviewing you because they are interested in you as a master’s degree candidate, and remain calm and give composed answers if you are asked any pointed questions about your application or goals.

4. Show Up Early

This falls in line with professionalism, but showing up early also benefits you by allowing you to collect yourself and organise your materials, if you had to bring any, before your interview. Having a chance to sit and breathe for a bit – and maybe going over some of your responses beforehand – can have a calming effect, and will make your presentation much better.

5. Actively Listen

Don’t answer the question you think you’re being asked. Listen very carefully to every question and make sure your answer is firmly within the context of what is being asked. Attention to detail and active listening are key skills to the success of any businessperson, and after all, that is what you are training for – to be a businessperson, entrepreneur, administrator, or executive. Demonstrating these skills during your interview will be critical to your admission – because they want to be sure that you are cut out for what you will go on to do.

Active listening is especially important if you are applying to an international business school, such as the Bologna Business School, where your interviewer may not have the same first language as you (though it is likely they will be at least semi-fluent in one of your spoken tongues). Listen carefully and don’t be afraid to ask for clarification.

Whether you’re seeking to study part-time and work alongside your master’s studies, or fast-track through a one year MBA program, these tips will assist you in acing your interview – and provide a foundation to form future business relationships.

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