This is probably the most important video in the MBA Interview Preparation series. Watch it carefully to avoid the common mistakes committed by applicants in delivering interviews. The guidelines discussed in this video will enable you to develop the right outlook towards MBA interviews.
10 Most Common Mistakes made in MBA Interviews
As the saying goes, "Forewarned is forearmed." In this article, we will cover the most commonly committed mistakes in MBA interviews; carefully understand these mistakes so that you do not commit them yourself. We will not discuss the very basic mistakes, such as not showing up on time or not greeting the interviewer, rather we will focus on the more educated mistakes that candidates end up committing.
1. Lack of Expression
While there is no one perfect strategy that can guarantee selection, the perfect way to guarantee rejection is to remain guarded. Your interviewer will be quite experienced; you will not be able to "win" the interview by withholding information. The correct approach is to express yourself in a suitable manner. A guarded demeanor suggests a fear of being judged and, as the purpose of an interview is to allow the school to evaluate your candidature, this will not reflect well on you. So, not talking or trying to get away with laconic answers is a clear turn off and deal-breaker in an MBA interview.
MBA candidates love to talk; and therefore, verbosity is a very common MBA interview mistake. Your interview answers should not take the form of long-winded stories; what you need to do is emphatically state clear takeaways for the interviewer. None of your answers should exceed two minutes in length; consider the US Presidential debates, where, the candidates only have two minutes to talk about the most complex of topics. If presidential candidates only get two minutes per answer, then you most certainly do not need any more time.
3. Beating Around the Bush
"Beating around the bush" means speaking a lot but failing to convey anything meaningful and must be avoided. Your answers must answer the specific questions asked, getting straight to the point, and ensuring clear takeaways for the interviewer, as mentioned above. You should also avoid extremely technical answers, as your interviewer may not have a technical background. Above all, do not lose the plot by providing excess detail.
4. Uni-Dimensional Answers
Another common mistake is providing answers that lack diversity. To illustrate, if you are asked to describe yourself in five terms and you answer along the lines of passionate, hard-working, dedicated, focused, energetic, then you have provided a uni-dimensional answer. All of these terms are, broadly speaking, very similar; this question gives you the opportunity to tell the interviewer so much about yourself, and this answer completely wastes it.
5. Sounding Unprepared
If your answers show a lack of preparation, it represents a serious shortcoming in your MBA interview performance. The key components of a lack of preparation are a lack of introspection, lack of retrospection, and lack of contemplation that are reflected in taking too long to answer, thinking while answering, and providing dull, unidimensional answers. It is vital that you come across as a thoroughly prepared candidate, in your interview, and the best way to do that is to retrospect, introspect, and contemplate. To retrospect means to think deeply on your own past, to introspect means to carefully consider your current standing, and to contemplate means to understand your plans for the future.
6. Lack of Takeaways for the Interviewer
The MBA interview is your opportunity to help the school understand your worth as a candidate; do not waste it by giving subjective, vague answers. You need to give rich answers that are filled with concrete takeaways, meaning that each answer should firmly tell the interviewer something about your skills, experience, clarity of goals, etc. Start the interview prepared with 20 points that you wish to convey to the interviewer, along the following lines:
Academics | Work Experience | Extra-Curriculars | Strengths | Areas of Improvement | Leadership Potential | Career Aspirations and Vision | Community Service | Cross-Cultural Experiences | Need for MBA | Reasons for Interest in the Particular Program |
Subjectivity should be avoided in your answers; wherever possible, quantify your answers.
7. Mistakes in Etiquette
As we have already covered the expected MBA interview etiquette in another article, at length, we will discuss this mistake in brief.
MBA interviews are often friendly conversations, but they are also as formal as it gets. Do not assume any liberties and be respectful and polite at all times. Never patronize your interviewer or engage in an argument; also be sure to follow all relevant phone and email etiquette, including sending the thank you email.
8. Not Having a Convincing Self-Description
Very often, the first question that you will be asked in an MBA interview will be "Tell us something about yourself." or "Run me through your resume." Ideally, this question should be well within your comfort zone, but many candidates struggle to provide a good answer. The most common mistake that candidates make in this regard is giving long, never-ending answers and narrating long stories that center around just one or two aspects of their personality rather than providing a holistic look at it. Another mistake that makes for long-winded answers is going back and forth in time; your answers should proceed in either a chronological or reverse chronological order.
A poor self-description is a lost opportunity to make an impression and guide your interview. Your self-description may very well set the tone for your entire MBA interview.
9. Weak Answers to Key Questions
There are certain fundamental questions that will be asked in every MBA interview and providing weak answers to them will have a very negative impact on your interview performance, as it will suggest that you are unprepared. These questions typically ask you why you wish to pursue an MBA, why you wish to attend that specific school, your strengths, your weaknesses, and your post-MBA goals. The interviewer is also likely to ask you to provide examples of some of the formative events of your life.
10. Mishandling Awkward Moments
Remember, the entirety of your MBA interview will not be smooth; there will be some awkward moments. As the interviewee, it is up to you to ensure that these awkward moments do not define the interview. If you are caught unprepared for a question, you must know how to handle it. If the interviewer grills you harder, do not get defensive; it is a good sign. When the interviewer gives you feedback, accept it with the utmost humility.
These were the 10 most common MBA interview mistakes. For a more complete understanding of MBA interview preparation, please read the other articles, prepared by Experts' Global.