FAQ about the interview process
Past students who took Vince's Interview Intensive Seminar asked the following questions:
Applicant's Q: My friend was invited to interview before me. Does that mean I have less change of being admitted than him?
Vince's A: No. Schools say, "Since we review applications within each round in random order, there is no significance to the date on which you may receive an interview invitation."
Applicant's Q: How do I reply to unexpected questions when I don't come up with good answer after several seconds?
Vince's A: Practice BEI
Applicant's Q: How to make a strong first impression and speak concisely?
Vince's A: Practice! Some of my clients use online services like "RareJob" to reinforce lessons learned from our mock training sessions. Do anything and everything that will help you make steady progress.
Applicant's Q: My biggest concern is how to fully convey my humorous, cheerful and energetic character in an interview. I believe that my attractiveness is a foundation of my leadership skill, and leads to relationship ability. All my essays are based on this belief. However, once interview starts, I become too concentrated my answers to show my attractiveness, turning into a frown. I wish I could include a few good jokes.
Vince's A: If you are more comfortable "being yourself" in Japanese, you might benefit from choosing to interview with alumni (rather than adcom staff or a student adcom member). Not every school gives that option. Kellogg does. Past clients have told me: Six of my comprehensive clients were admitted to Kellogg Class of 2011. Three interviewed on campus, while the other three chose to interview with alumni in Tokyo...
Applicant's Q: How can I leave strong impression while expressing in a simple way? (in other words, how to show my insights while avoiding confusing explanation.)
Vince's A: Practice using STAR / PAR, or other simple storytelling templates that clearly distinguish a beginning, middle, and end of your example.
Applicant's Q: How to prepare for unexpected questions?
Vince's A: Practice creating quick five-sentence answers to typical BEI-stylematrix of your strengths and weaknesses so that you can clearly state the main point of each story you tell. We will practice this at the class and in our one-to-one training sessions. questions. More importantly, create a
Applicant's Q: How to make the interview fun?
Vince's A: This sounds like a cliche, but just be yourself! As in any conversation with a stranger you hope to impress, start with an "ice breaker". If interviewing with Japanese alumni, feel free to establish the kind of mood you would want to create with a (new) potential business partner. If a current student or adcoms, be sure to smile, look for chances to create an upbeat atmosphere. Most of all, find a way to stay relaxed so that your natural instincts and interpersonal skills can guide you to success. Not to repeat myself, but this comes from practice. Interviewing is like stage acting. You have to master your mind, body, and emotions so that you can connect your logical answers and passionate feelings to create a winning impression.
Applicant's Q: What kind on question should I NOT ask adcoms?
Vince's A: Avoid asking for information you could find online. Read more advice here
Applicant's Q: How do I fill the silence while I am thinking of my answer to a new / unexpected question?
Vince's A: By talking. Use phrases like: "Well, let me think. (slight pause). That is an interesting question (slight pause). I never really thought about it (slight pause). But to answer your question, I guess I would have to say... (WHATEVER YOU CAN!)"
Another strategy (to use sparingly lest your interviewer should doubt your listening skills): Confirm the question. Ask the interview to clarify. For example, if you had not considered how you plan to contribute to School X (bad example, but please bear with me here...), you might say "Are you asking how I plan to contribute in the classroom, or in extracurricular activities?"
As your interviewer listens and responds to your question, you have a few more seconds to formulate your answer. This strategy is especially effective when interviewing on the phone. Try this with your counselor to master the art of "buying time" while avoiding awkward silences and long non-verbal "ummmm" noises.
Applicant's Q: How do I avoid giving too much background information?
Vince's A: Confirm your listeners knowledge of the subject. Just ask something like "how much do you know about the hotel business?" Your interviewer will likely say something like, "well, I know some names of major players, and I am sure I don't know everything, but I do understand ..."
This might seem strange, but I can help you practice how to do this naturally (usually a matter of timing). If your interviewer already knows certain basic information, you can skip to the details of your story without summarizing too much background information. This type of "level check" is very natural in everyday conversation, and there are ways to do this at an interview w/o making you or your listener uncomfortable.
Applicant's Q: I am not sure how to answer open-ended questions such as "What would you do if you had 30 free days?" or "If you could invite any five people, living or dead, to dinner at your home tonight, who would you invite and why?"
Vince's A: First, identify your strengths (link). Then, pick examples of those strengths. Find the right opportunity to show your "selling points".
Applicant's Q: Failure/contribution/ethical dilemma questions scare me. How should I prepare for them?
Applicant's Q: Failure/contribution/ethical dilemma questions scare me. How should I prepare for them?
Vince's A: Practice! (http://mbainterviews.blogspot.com/2009/09/behavioral-event-based-interviews-bei.html)
Applicant's Q: How do I answer questions about my weaknesses? How can I take advantage of this question? I think that it is not wise strategy to tell the truth, because an interviewer is not my counselor. I admit several weaknesses, such as impatience and a tendency of being dogmatic. The interviewer will feel that I am a less team player. On the other hand, an interviewer expects my self-assessment ability and self-management skill. I well manage these my shortcomings in my office, so my colleagues and supervisors never mention my negatives as I analyze.
Vince's A: Please read my post (including Adam's advice)
Applicant's Q: "What other schools are you applying?" In many cases, I have tried to clearly differentiate "school X" from others when answering "why this school?" And then, I have to answer the question "any other school? " referring common points of these schools. It becomes rather illogical or incoherent. I have to find a way both to mention a common character of those schools and to prioritize them at the same time. It is a very tough question for me.
Vince's A: This is a big issue. Please take my class!
Applicant's Q: What is the difference between leadership and teamwork? Why does my interviewer ask about both.
Vince's A: I love this question. In my opinion, an interviewer asks teamwork-related questions to gauge your future behavior in MBA study groups and project teams. She asks about leadership to test your potential to achieve your stated goals.
Applicant's Q: I am not sure how to answer questions about "leading a team in my company." Because size of my company is small, and most projects are conducted by one or two members.
Vince's A: Try to emphasize your ability to influence others to achieve a positive outcome. If you can demonstrate your ability to lead small groups, and identify your core strengths that made it possible, your interviewer will believe you have the capacity to lead bigger teams in the future.
What books do you read now? I have not recently read books for professional or for fun. Should I talk about the book I read before?
Vince's A: Yes!
Applicant's Q: A counselor told me I should write an "interview script". Do you think this is a good way to prepare.
Vince's A: Just like a professional actor (which Vince used to be), you must get beyond scripts to convey believable answers. Therefore, Vince recommends that you write outlines, not full scripts.
Since 2002, I have seen too many clients waste time writing word-perfect scripts that they memorize. You will reach a point of diminishing returns. After making an outline, you should spend time speaking, not writing.
Applicant's Q: Are there any disadvantages of interview with alumnis in comparison with interviews with ad-coms on campus?
Vince's A: It depends on the school. Please ask Vince for case-by-case advice. In general, you should interview where you can make the greatest impact. If you are not ready to speak to adcoms (staff or student adcom members), start with alumni.
Applicant's Q: Can I use visual aids to support oral communication at the interview? I have heard some schools limit those materials.
Vince's A: Prepare if you wish. Have in your briefcase. Ask if they want to see it. If not, let it go. Do not hide behind a PowerPoint. Some schools (HEC) want to see a presentation. Otherwise, you can create and bring one if it makes you feel more comfortable, but do not plan on being able to show it.
Applicant's Q: I have not been able to visit some of my target schools. In that case, how can I still impress interviewer about my aspiration to the school?
Vince's A: Talk about the people you have met. Show how they influenced your thinking.
Applicant's Q: How should I dress for the interview / what to wear?
Vince's A: Dress to impress! First impressions do matter. Wear business attire on campus or with adcoms in Tokyo. Bottom line: wear what will make you comfortable, allow you to forget about your clothes, and focus on having an enjoyable but focused conversation. For another perspective, please read ClearAdmit's Admissions Tip: Interview Etiquette
Applicant's Q: Should I bring my business card?
Vince's A: Have it with you but only reciprocate (you give yours if they give theirs). If interviewing with Japanese alumni, I suggest you follow Japanese protocol.
Applicant's Q: Should I bring my resume?
Vince's A: Yes! Great excuse to highlight a recent achievement (something great you have done since applying). Give the recommender your most recent resume and use it to segue into a brief description of your recent promotion, project, personal achievement, etc. If on campus, have multiple copies with you at all times, but only present it if asked.
Applicant's Q: Can I bring or send a small "thank you" gift?
Vince's A: Not appropriate.
Applicant's Q: Should I send a "thank you"letter or email?
Vince's A: Yes! Snail mail is a nice touch, but even just a short email is appreciated. (add a few samples) Keep it brief but remind them of "something fun" you discussed.
Applicant's Q: Due to my work conflict, I have to interview over the phone. How should I prepare?
Vince's A: After completing a few face-to-face interview training sessions with a veteran admissions counselor (or trusted friend who works in an HR-related field), I encourage you to practice for a phone interview over the phone (or Skype). Here are some tips for phone interviews.
Applicant's Q: My counselor told me my body language was bad, but I am not sure what she meant. How do I improve?
Vince's A: First, read this post. Then, practice at home in front of a mirror. Finally, come back and get another opinion from the same or a different counselor. This is important!
Applicant's Q: Should I tell jokes / try to be funny?
Vince's A: Risky. If you feel comfortable with alumni or current student interviewers, you might try. With adcoms, be careful. Treat it like a job interviewer. Would you crack jokes with a hiring director? At the same time, feel free to smile to show that you are kind and confident.
Applicant's Q: Where can I read more about interview strategy?
Vince's A: Here are my best interview-related links. Use them well!
-Updated by Vince on 14 March 2012
I am a graduate admissions consultant who works with clients worldwide
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Please note that initial consultations are not offered for interview training