How to prepare your MBA interview story

MBA interviewers are looking for certain qualities in applicants, which they hope to see during the interview. Find out how to prepare your MBA story portfolio in the days before the interview for greater impact.

So you have received the call for an interview to your preferred overseas B-school. The first thing to do is to respond immediately – or else it may seem you are not interested enough. Since you are applying to study abroad, your interview will most likely be over Skype. Identify a good tech setup and space for the online interview well in advance. Next, you will need to begin building your portfolio for the big day.

What Will the Interviewer Look For?

Consider the qualities that your interviewer is going to look for in you, while you prepare to tell your story. Your English communication skills – comprehension as well as ability to converse articulately – are important. So are your interpersonal skills – how mature is it, how well do you listen, communicate, work in a team? Other things that your interviewer will look at are your impact in your student life, career focus, the career progression in your resume, your intellectual ability and last but not least your leadership potential.

This means that when you pick stories from your school, work and personal/extracurricular life, you want to focus on your teamwork, leadership, ethics, cross-cultural experiences, analytic ability primarily. Also pick stories to answer questions on your choice of B-school and contributions that you expect to make. Finally, prepare questions to ask your interviewer.

While you build your story, make sure that it is consistently revealing the following things about you:
  • That you have a clear idea of what you want to do and why you want to do it
  • That you know why you have chosen that school
  • That you are personable and fit in with the school's culture

The Interview Opening

Your interviewer will typically start only with your resume. The first question is often –
  • Tell me about your resume/please summarize your professional life so far
  • Tell me about yourself

Both questions are similar but must be answered with slightly different approaches. For the first, narrate your career history in order (post-college to present) and emphasize that they were "choices" for a specific purpose. Show your motivation for each step. Talk about the skills you expected from your university major, why you were interested in your industry, the skills you hoped to hone in your past and current positions etc. It can also be useful to offer a macro analysis of your choices.

For the second type of question, often asked informally, you want to start with a statement offering a macro summation of your function, number of years in the professional world, skills etc. along with a recent highlight or accomplishment. You can begin this by saying "Professionally, I...". Follow this up with a statement of your personal interests (ideally two to three) that talk about hobbies across diverse areas.

What are your Goals?

A common question is about your future plans and goals post-MBA. Practice answering this question in the short and long term. If asked why you think you need an MBA, give three reasons. Balance the soft and hard skills in your answer.

Why Now?

This answer does not have to be long. But clearly answer this question with specifics. To prepare, think about the internal factors affecting your choice – maybe there are new technical, interpersonal or analytic skill sets that you want to add to your existing (mastered) repertoire. Also think about external factors – what is it about the market right now that makes it the right time to pick up the skills at the program and implement your business idea?

It goes without saying that when applying to study MBA abroad, you should do your research into the school you are applying to, and give your story a slight spin that fits with the ethics and culture of the school.

If you are just starting out on your MBA applications for a university abroad then the essay plays a crucial role in you getting selected for the interview. Have a look at how to approach an MBA essay.

Article by Juana
Juana is a freelance writer, with years of experience, creating content for varied online portals. She holds a degree in English Literature and has worked as a teacher and as a soft skill trainer. An avid reader, she writes on a variety of topics ranging from health, travel, education and personality development.

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