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Interview

Interviews by Institutes abroad is very rare and is usually limited to some business schools. You most probably will not have to go through one. But, just to let you know, Wharton visits Delhi, Bombay and some other cities every year to interview applicants. Some schools conduct interviews telephonically and some others through their alumni who are based in the city you live in.

If you happen to be applying to an institute that wants to interview, you ought to be prepared.

Preparing for the Interview - have the right attitude and do your homework.

  1. Consider the interview as your final opportunity to market yourself.  Establish your objectives for the interview.  Think about ways of reinforcing your strengths and addressing your weaknesses.  Be prepared to support your claims in the application essays.  Good preparation will also help you relax somewhat during the interview.

  2. Know all that you can about the school and the program - the school brochures and the website can be useful sources. Carry out a search in Google or Yahoo by the name of the school and read the relevant results. This could make you aware of some specific details about the school or the program, which would reflect in your answers during the interview. It could pay to project yourself as a person who pays attention to detail. It also conveys your interest in the school.

  3. Prepare for the typical interview questions.  Most of the interview questions come from two categories
    (1) Standard questions for all students like Why MBA, Why Yale etc.
    (2) Questions tailor-made for you based on your essays and your resume.
    The interviewer may wish to probe into some of your claims to fame in your essays.  Be sure to review your application, essays and resume prior to the interview.  The worst thing you can do is contradicting yourself at the interview.

List of standard questions

  • Why do you wish to pursue the program that you have applied to?
  • Why do you want to attend this school?
  • Name some other schools that you have applied to?
  • Tell me about yourself.
  • What are your career goals?
  • Where do you see yourself in ten years?
  • What value can you add to the program?
  • What are your greatest achievements?
  • What do you consider your three top strengths/weaknesses?
  • Why should we accept you?
  • Do you have any questions?

Most of the above questions would have been covered in your essays in one form or the other. Review the exercise that you did in the essays section to get your life in perspective. The interview is  your big chance to elaborate on things that you could not cover in your essays.  You should also be ready with 3-5 good questions that reflect your concerns about the school and your success in the program.

Other typical interview questions would most likely be from one of these categories:

a) Undergraduate Education

Tips:

Remember your interviewers are from the academia, so give adequate importance to learning and education.  Show your commitment to learning and growing.  Talk about your extracurricular activities and how these activities helped build your well-rounded personality. Detail your contribution as well as what you learnt. Describe how your schooling will help you in achieving your career goals. Describe any leadership experiences and what you learnt from those experiences.

b) Work Experience

Tips:

Be enthusiastic about your job experience.  Portray yourself as one who tries to exceed expectations.  Stress on teamwork, motivation, continuous learning and ownership.  Be positive when talking about your boss or your firm.  If you changed jobs, it should have been motivated by a desire for more challenges, more responsibilities, opportunity to grow and so on.  Avoid negative comments like unappreciated, underpaid etc.   Don’t be afraid to talk about a failure.   Stress on what you learnt from your failure.    Describe your leadership experiences at work.  Leadership potential is a very important quality desired by all MBA programs.

c) Goals

Tips:

Show that you are committed to your career objectives.  Your goals should be consistent with your experience and your desire to pursue further education.  Be practical where you see yourself in five years ( refrain from making a statement like "I will be the CEO of Hewlett-Packard") and be prepared to demonstrate how advanced training and education will help you achieve your goals.  Highlight some of the strengths of the program to further justify your choice.  Make sure that all your answers connect and reflect the thought you have put in planning for your future.

d) Personal

Tips:

Be sure to prepare a brief outline of your upbringing.  Take every opportunity to show that you are achievement oriented and strive to develop both personally and professionally.  At the same time, show yourself to be a well-balanced and sensible person with varied interests. In your choice of books, it does not matter whether it is science fiction or biographies: the idea is to show yourself as knowledgeable in whatever interests you pursue.

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