How to Ace the Admissions Interview
By Jett Pihakis and Peter Johnson, Co-Directors of Admissions, Full-time MBA Program
Over the coming months, many of you will undoubtedly be interviewing for admission to MBA programs. Here are some helpful tips to keep in mind so that you will make a favorable impression on your interviewers. While some of our suggestions are easier to implement than others, all of these skills can be learned with practice.
- Think through the kinds of questions you are likely to be asked, and think about your responses. Practice interviews can be very helpful, but be sure not to over-rehearse your answers. Your responses should always sound natural and conversational, not canned or scripted.
- Dress to impress. Wear business attire to your B-school interview. First impressions do matter.
- Relax and be yourself. While some nervous energy is to be expected, understand that the interviewer is on your side and wants you to do a good job. Too much nervous energy can be detrimental to your interview performance. If necessary, do some breathing exercises to calm yourself prior to your interview.
- Answer the question being asked. Do not attempt to control the interview by forcing your agenda and making points you feel must be made. Follow the interviewer’s lead.
- Think about your response before you begin speaking aloud. It is perfectly acceptable for you to sit in silence for a few moments while you gather your thoughts. In fact, your responses will be much crisper and clearer if you take the time to do so.
- Provide answers that are concise, but not too concise. Avoid rambling, but be sure that your answer offers the interviewer enough information to be helpful. Watch your interviewer’s facial expressions and body language to determine if you are on track.
- Maintain appropriate eye contact with the interviewer. While it is certainly acceptable to look away occasionally while thinking, you should attempt to keep consistent eye contact while either of you is speaking.
- Be conscious of your posture. You want to appear comfortable in your chair, but not too comfortable. Avoid being too casual (e.g., slouching, sitting with your legs far apart, etc).
- Be conscious of your tendency to fidget. Don't click your pen, twirl your hair, rub your leg, or shift in your seat.
- Minimize your use of filler words such as "you know," "like," "um," and "uh."
- Do plenty of school research before your interview and come prepared to ask intelligent questions. It is completely appropriate for you to consult your notes at the end of the interview when you are asking questions of your interviewer. However, you should not refer to notes while the interviewer is questioning you.
- Never ask your interviewer for feedback at the end of your interview. "How did I do?" is not an appropriate question.
Armed with these tips (which are also discussed in our podcast at http://www.haas.berkeley.edu/haas/podcast/audio/haas_mba_interview_tips1.mp3), you should now be better prepared to face even the most challenging of interviews. We wish you the very best of luck with your applications!
UCB / Berkeley / Haas Interview Reports
December round applicant interviewed by adcoms in Tokyo on 3/2/2009 #1
I had an interview with a Haas admission officer on Monday. The interview was 50-minutes long and a blind one. I felt that the interview was kind of "Behavioral Event Interviews"; the interviewer often dug into details and asked me what, how, why so often. Therefore, you will have questions special to you. Here are the questions I had. Additional BEI-type questions followed some of the questions below.
- Walk me through resume
- Why did you move to other functions within the company?
- Why Haas.
- STG and LTG.
- If you could change one thing relating to your professional topic, then what would it be? (This is like Short Answer 1 in Haas's essay.)
- Difficult teamwork experience
- Teamwork failure
- Your contributions to Haas
- Lesson from your international work experience. How did you resolve a difficult situation in an international project?
- What are you going to do if you have extra 4hrs a day?
- Anything that you want the adcom to know?
December round applicant interviewed by adcoms in Tokyo on 3/2/2009 #2
I have just finished my Haas interview with a member of admission. My interview was truly conversational and most of the questions were ordinary ones. Also, at the beginning he mentioned that Haas invites approximately 30% of the applicants to interview....For your reference, followings are the questions that I was asked at the interview. I hope it helps you and your clients.
- Walk me through your resume
- Short and long term goal
- Why MBA, Why Haas, Why now?
- Team work experience
- What do people around you mention about you
- Why do you think people will say about you in the way you said
- What is the biggest risk that you take currently
- What do you want me to ask you
- Any questions?
- Walk me through your resume.
- Tell me more about your current project.
- What surprised you when you researched Haas School.
- What is your long term goal?
- Any difficulty in team work?
- Any constructive feed back?
- Any questions?
-Updated by Vince on 14 March 2012
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