The admissions interview is a crucial part of the application process for admission to most MBA and many Master’s degree programs.

The interview, just like the application essays, is the best opportunity to demonstrate your potential contribution to the programme of your choice. Furthermore, your performance at the admissions interview can help you to win a scholarship. The interview has considerable weight in the overall evaluation of your application for both admission and scholarships.

The admissions interview invitation does not imply that you will be admitted. The invitation is just a sign that your application is of interest to the Admissions Committee. The real competition is still ahead of you. The admissions interview requires excellent preparation. Although there are some common interview questions, each interview is unique.

What is an admissions interview?

Interviews vary from school to school. Normally an interview takes between 40 and 60 minutes.

The interview may be conducted by a committee or by a single interviewer. The people who are likely to interview you are the director of admissions, the director of the programme of your choice, a faculty member, a current student or an alumnus.

There are also group interviews. In these cases, you will not be the only applicant interviewed. You may be in a group with one or several of your competitors. Some of the interview questions in this format may even require interaction between all the interviewed applicants.

Interviews may be conducted face-to-face, on the phone or online via Skype or other platforms, with or without video.

Which are the “typical” interview questions?

Some of the interview questions used by almost any business school are: How will our programme help you reach your goals? Tell us about a difficult situation, how you coped and what lessons you learnt? How will you contribute to the class? Why do you think you are good applicant? Do you have any questions that you would like to ask us?

Interview questions are not always limited to a questionnaire which the interviewer follows. Interview questions may also depend on your performance during the interview, as well as on what you wrote in the application form, your essays and the resume/CV, or even arise given what has been shared in the recommendation letters by your referees.

How is the interview conducted?

The interview may be conducted in person at the university campus or in another location, even in your country of residence. Business schools and universities which attract many international applicants also offer the option to have the interview on the phone, Skype, etc.

The distance interviews such as those done on the phone, Skype, etc. are usually conducted by one interviewer. In a face-to-face interview you could be sitting in front of a committee or even with several other applicants (group interview).

Video interviews are usually a bit easier for most applicants than interviews on the phone or other platforms without video contact. It makes a significant difference when you can actually see the interviewer and read his/her body language. However, you should still think about your non-verbal presentation, just as during a face-to-face interview. You are also responsible for arranging your setting in the best way for a formal admissions interview.

The telephone interview is usually the most challenging for most applicants primarily because of the lack of visual contact. Issues with the connection, clarity of articulation, different accents of the speakers are usually aggravated during a phone interview. So you should prepare well and practice in advance.

Your mind set should be the same for both types of interview - the face-to-face and the distance interview. However, you should prepare according to the differences in whichever medium the interview is conducted.

How to prepare for the admissions interview

There are many tiny details to consider related to the admissions interview. It helps a lot for the interview if you have selected your business schools really carefully and worked thoroughly on the application package. However, you need to prepare and drill for each interview.

Start the interview preparation right after you submit your application. Some of the interview invitations will come through giving very short notice and you will not have much time to prepare.

You should review your application package in order to refresh your mind about all details you mentioned. You should practice answering interview questions straight to the point, starting with the most important information. Your voice should be loud enough and you should articulate clearly. Most importantly, you should always remember why you selected this school and programme and illustrate how you stand out from the rest of the applicants.

It is common that applicants hire a coach train for their admission interviews, especially for highly competitive MBA or Master’s degree programmes. Some applicants get the help of a friend or practice in front of a camera and then analyse the video-recording and drill repeatedly until they are happy with their performance.

Check out some useful tips on B-School Admission preparation here!