We’ve all been there. Despite all the preparations, research and rehearsals, you find yourself nervous about your MBA admissions interview. While this isn’t technically a job interview, you may do well to treat it like one. An MBA admissions interview is a very important part of your overall application and ultimately one of the first steps towards your post-MBA life.
At McCombs, interviews are by invitation only and can come at any time before the decision release date. While some applicants may look forward to the opportunity to interview, others may not exactly enjoy the anxiety thereby engendered. If you are a member of the latter group, look at it this way: the interview affords one of the only opportunities for official face-to-face interaction during the application process, so here are a few ways you can take advantage:
1. Don’t be on time – be early. Arriving early is interviewing 101, yet it still manages to falter even the most prepared candidates. Arriving early is even more critical if you’ve never been to campus or navigated UT parking before.
2. “What was the question again?” You’d be surprised how many times at the end of an applicant’s long-winded answer we are asked to repeat the original question. Most often this happens to people who try to cram too much into the first answer for fear of not being given an opportunity later on to address that well-rehearsed example. Don’t worry, we’ll get to it! Plus, sometimes there is an opportunity at the end of an interview to mention anything we didn’t address in the formal line of questioning.
3. Loosen up. Given our program’s famously friendly culture, our interviews are relatively informal. If you still find yourself nervous, practice your answers in front of a mirror, a friend or a willing stranger, and ask them how you did; did you answer the question or did you rush through it? Take a moment to outline your answer in your mind first, and then address it calmly and confidently. Don’t get too comfortable, though. While we’re an easy-going bunch, maintaining an appropriate level of professionalism is always a good idea.
4. Know what we’re looking for. We listen for confidence, clear and concise communication of career goals, concrete examples of teamwork and leadership, in-depth knowledge of our MBA program, and overall genuine enthusiasm. Also, the interview can be a place to showcase secondary skills that are difficult for us to determine solely based on your application: interview skills, self-awareness, communication style, and “hire-ability”.
5. Come with questions. A good list of questions can illustrate a few key things about a candidate: you’ve done your research, you care about our program, you have envisioned yourself as an MBA and you can formulate thoughts under pressure. Don’t overdo it, though. We usually leave anywhere from 10-15 minutes for questions, so limit your list to 2-3 good ones maximum and have a few backups.
While our interviewing style is admittedly less intense than corporate recruiters and some other MBA programs, don’t let our laid-back attitude fool you. The Admissions Committee uses the interview as a way to add character, depth and spirit to your written application, so keep these tips in mind to ensure a positive outcome. Good luck!
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