For both the interviewer and the interviewee, interviews may be a challenging experience. However, the process will go smoothly and be beneficial for everyone if you prepare ahead of time and have the appropriate attitude and mindset. But what’s the right course of action? You probably want some tips and examples. Well, you can learn all of this and more in this webinar recording with Dr. Don.

Dr. Don Martin has worked at the University of Chicago (Booth School of Business), Columbia University (Teachers College), and Northwestern University (Medill School of Journalism) for a total of 28 years. And throughout his time at these schools, he has reviewed over 125,000 applications and made final decisions on them.

In 2008, Dr. Don founded Grad School Road Map, a boutique graduate school admissions consultancy that provides expert advice on the research and application processes across all disciplines. And since then, he has spoken to prospective graduate students all over the world.

In this video webinar, Dr. Don talks about the importance of interviews for graduate school candidates and provides advice to students who are preparing for those interviews. He emphasizes the important role of interviews, particularly as a criterion to determine whether an applicant is fit for this program or school. So, here are some of the insider tips he gives for a successful interview.

Interviewee: before, during, and after the interview

Before the interview

If you are lucky enough and get invited to an MBA interview, the main advice Dr. Don gives is to prepare:

  • Familiarize yourself with the program you are applying to
  • Review your resume
  • Practice some of your responses to possible questions
  • Be attentive to your attire and personal appearance

But you must remember to avoid memorizing responses and keep in mind the importance of letting the individuals interviewing you get to know you in a calm manner.

Also, another very important thing to remember is that you cannot predict everything. You can’t predict every question that you will be asked.

“You need to be prepared, but you also need to be ready to adapt.”

During the interview

During the interview, Dr. Don advises you to be ready to feel nervous. It is completely normal to get a bit anxious in such situations, but you need to remember how important it is to make a good first impression. So, here are some tips from Dr. Don:

  • Be professional and maintain good eye contact
  • If you have any questions, make sure that they are well-researched and thoughtful
  • When you are answering the interviewer's questions, be mindful of the length of your responses and don't overdo your answers
  • Be careful to not come out as arrogant when you answer questions about your accomplishments
  • Be ready to discuss a weakness, failure, or mistake

And remember:

“You DO NOT get a second chance to make a first impression.”

After the interview

After the interview is over:

  • Thank the interviewer for the opportunity and their time
  • As soon as you reasonably can, write down all the information you received, topics discussed, etc.
  • If the interview did not go well, it is important to politely communicate this to the interviewer
  • If the interviewer is inappropriate, Dr. Don insists on reporting them
  • Once you know you’ve been accepted into the program, and even if you're not, you can send a thank-you message, whether through email or a handwritten note

Interviewer: before, during and after the interview

Before the interview

It is important to acknowledge that the interviewer plays an equally important role in conducting a successful interview. The interviewer is responsible for ensuring that the process is fair, efficient, and productive before, during, and after the interview.

In the webinar, Dr. Don explains that there are three types of interviewers: members of admissions staff, current students, and alumni. They will all have received extensive interview training and have no difference in credibility. Before the interview:

  • They will review the candidate's resume
  • They will most likely develop a list of questions and topics to discuss during the interview

During the interview

It is very important to remember that regardless of who the interviewer is, they will be aware that you will be nervous, especially at the beginning. The interviewer has been in your place before, and they know the feeling. You need to remain calm and know that the interviewer genuinely wants you to do well.

As we discussed earlier, be prepared for the interviewer to observe your body language and mannerisms. And remember to be calm and confident, not arrogant.

“It is not always what you say, but how you say it that can make a big difference.”

After the interview

Following the interview, the interviewer will write a report that will be included as part of the candidate's application. The interviewers are urged to be completely honest in their report and not to stay in touch with their interviewee after the interview, unless it is a unique circumstance.

Here are the most common interview questions you may be asked by the interviewer:

  • Tell me a little about yourself.
  • They will certainly ask you something related to your resume.
  • Why did you choose this degree program? Why did you choose our school/institution?
  • What are your strengths? What are your weaknesses?
  • What are your short/long-term goals?

Overall, the key to success is to be prepared and flexible during the interview. But it is also important to remember to be calm, to be yourself, and to present yourself well. Go with the flow! Speak honestly and openly about your strengths and weaknesses and your experiences. Do not forget to thank the interviewer for the opportunity.

If you want more information or preparation materials, you can go to the official Grad School Road Map website. There you can find everything you need and more, including 30-minute free consultations with Dr. Don.