Here are nine tips that will help you make a lasting impression on MBA admissions’ officers.
Arrive at least 15 minutes before your appointment. This will keep you composed and help you focus on the interview. It’s better to enter the interviewer’s office calm and collected than to rush in at the last minute, panting and red-faced. However, if you are running late due to circumstances beyond your control, make sure to notify the interviewer. Also, don’t forget to knock before entering the room and wait until you are asked to sit down.
Business attire is appropriate, unless the invitation for the interview clarifies that a more casual dress code is also acceptable. Avoid garish shirts and ties, too much makeup or strong perfumes. Be comfortable with your own style, but the more conservative the attire, the better. After all, the interviewer’s attention should be on who you are as a person and an MBA aspirant. Treat the MBA interview the same as a job interview or a formal event. First impressions are very important, so make sure you dress for the occasion.
Check out: 8 Challenging MBA Interview Questions
Beware of your body language
Appearance is important during interviews — not only the clothes you wear, but also your general comportment. Even if your responses to questions are spot-on and well structured, inappropriate body language can send the wrong signal. Studies suggest that handshakes are crucial for first impressions. Your handshake should be neither too firm, nor excessively limp. Don’t slouch in the chair, don’t wriggle constantly, and make adequate eye contact. Even though you may be nervous during the interview, try to appear calm. Avoid biting your nails, cracking your knuckles, twirling your hair, or tapping your leg.
This may seem obvious, but sometimes nervousness gets the better of MBA applicants, leading them to crack jokes and make comments that are deemed unacceptable. Be agreeable and polite with everyone on campus. Don’t try too hard to be funny or demonstrate wit. Be calm, smile, and react adequately to questions and requests. Show self-confidence, but don’t be cocky or loud.
Make eye contact
For some, making good eye contact is tough. If you give too much eye contact you come across as too intense. Conversely, too little eye contact will lead the other person to think that you don't care about what they are saying. So, when you sit down for the interview, don’t stare at your interviewer but also don’t constantly look down or around the room. Letting your eyes wander will create the impression that you are distracted or not interested in the conversation. Or it may seem that you are not convinced by what you are saying or are uncomfortable in general.
Note cultural differences
If you are an international applicant, it is vital to be aware of the cultural differences between your native country and your host one. For instance, while it may be acceptable in your culture to be overly familiar with people you just met, like an MBA admissions officer, in many countries it is not. On the other hand, if you come from a very conservative society and apply to a Western university, be aware that the interviewer may attempt to strike up a friendly conversation before the interview, even though this could be perceived as highly unusual in your country.
Switch off your phone
The last thing you need is an embarrassing phone ring or a vibrating sound during one of the most important meetings of your life. Don’t forget to switch off your phone. An unexpected phone ring will not only stop you in your tracks, but may also irritate your interviewer, which is something you definitely don’t want.
Speaking of irritating the interviewer, during the interview, make sure you don’t step on the last two-three words of the interviewer’s sentence and talk over him/her. Wait for him/her to finish speaking, pause for a second or two, and then deliver your answer or contribute to the conversation.
Check out: What to Expect During the MBA Interview
Bring your CV/resume
It is unlikely that you will need to pull out your CV/resume, but it is always best to have an extra copy of the CV that you submitted with your application if your interviewer needs it. However, make sure you don’t consult it during the interview. Successful candidates should be able to speak about their experiences without needing to look at their CV.
The MBA interview is an important part of the admissions’ process, so don’t let an etiquette gaffe spoil your application. Take these tips into account and good luck for your interview!