preparing you for life

Admissions consulting for top US MBA and undergraduate programs and the Indian School of Business

Show case your plusses through the interview


Interview is the last lap of the marathon. You are tired after a long journey of the admissions process; yet optimistic about the final outcome. Energize yourself, feel enthusiastic and give it your best shot. If you have been invited for an interview, you have already convinced the admissions committee that you are a sound potential candidate. Convert this potential into a reality by planning, preparing and presenting yourself in the most positive manner possible. You will be able to do this by understanding the purpose of the interview, assessing your skills, understanding the features of the college and launching a thorough preparation program with robust enthusiasm. Get ready to showcase your plusses.


Purpose of an interview:


¨       To have a greater understanding of the candidate.

¨       Reconfirm claims made and thoughts expressed in the essays.

¨       Closely evaluate the applicant’s suitability for a place in the college.

¨       To make an informed choice between seemingly similar level of applicants.


Planning for an interview:


You are fortunate to have been invited for an interview. Put your act together and start planning. After all it is your chance to honestly project yourself.


¨       Formulate a strategy: you need to have an overall strategy to sell yourself in a limited time.

¨       Choose an appropriate date and destination: sometimes the date and place are assigned; often you can choose a date which gives you sufficient time for preparation and a place which suits you.

¨       Choose the type of interview: it could be any one of the commonly offered types- personal (on campus or off campus with an alumnus), telephonic or video conferencing with members of the admissions committee.

¨       Create an interview folder: to maintain important interview papers- a copy of your resume, original transcripts, certificates of awards and honors, copies of your essays, Letters of Recommendations for easy reference while you prepare for the interview. Make a schedule for preparation.


Preparation for an interview:


Having done this basic planning and strategizing, you need to do a thorough preparation for the actual interview. Preparation can be classified into two broad categories:


(a)    Steps to be taken to lay a sound base:

¨       Research – gather every possible information about the college and the course. You may have done this while applying but strengthen the knowledge pool by using every possible source- website, brochures, alumni, faculty, student body.

¨       Review and relate – evaluate your knowledge, skills and qualification and relate them to the expectations of the college, course and the culture on the campus. Establish a strong correlation between the two to strengthen your case.


(b)   Actual preparation through listing of likely questions formulating suitable answers and going through mock interview sessions.

¨       Mental preparation - the actual question and answer session is the part people feel very diffident about. With proper application of thought process, thorough review of your application and reading appropriate material you can anticipate every question you are likely to be asked. At least with this preparation you can go into the interview with the confidence that you can tackle the most complex questions.

¨       Familiarization with questioning techniques- interviewers usually mix different styles of questions – some that deal with familiar data (e.g. where do you come from?), others that will prompt you to elaborate further on the issue under discussion (e.g. so tell us further about this) or open ended (e.g. what do think about our MBA program?). Questions can also be asked to test your personality and responses in challenging situations (e.g. if you were the CEO of an automobile company what would be your strategy to take on the challenge from Tata’s Nano?).

¨       Listing of likely questions – make a list of questions you imagine the interviewer could ask you. Work out how you will answer them keeping the course and college in mind. Categorize them into various types:

                                                              i.      Course related questions – why do want to do this course? Why from this school?

                                                            ii.      Professional – what are your short term and long term career goals? What has been your significant professional achievement?

                                                          iii.      Personal – what are your hobbies and interests?

                                                          iv.      General questions – in addition to the above there will be some settling in questions which can be handled with poise or there could be some that appear unsettling (e.g. one that relates with a gap year in your college or career). The key to answering the latter type is confidence and honesty.

¨       Mock interview sessions – professional guidance can help you to prepare for the interview.


Key points to keep in mind:


¨       Dress appropriately – a formal dress is recommended.

¨       Be punctual – arriving late is starting on a wrong note.

¨       Adopt appropriate body language – convey a confident, prepared and relaxed image. Maintain eye contact.

¨       Have a ready smile and be polite.

¨       Have phrases ready to portray your strengths, drawbacks and achievements.

¨       Keep evidence ready that demonstrates your claims.

¨       Use examples from different facets of your life.

¨       Keep your answers simple and brief.

¨       Try to control the discussion so that the topics remain in your zone of comfort.

¨       Be prepared to ask some questions to the interviewer.


Some show spoilers can be:


¨       Fibbing instead of admitting when you do not know the answer.

¨       Making strong comments on controversial subjects.

¨       Sweeping statements and generalizations.

¨       Answering without understanding the question.

¨       Awkward gestures.

¨       Unimpressive stance.


Having understood the essence of an interview, planned and prepared adequately, you are all set to give the final thrust to the admissions process. Approach it with confidence, composure and a positive attitude. There are strong chances that you will achieve success.