This is the third of the six-part "MBA Insider" series. This series gives inside advice on what you need to know about getting an MBA. "MBA Insider" is sponsored by Chicago Booth.
Having quantitative skills and good recommendations aren't all that you need to get into your preferred MBA program.
You need to also conquer the business school interview.
"C andidates should parallel the interview to a job opportunity," said Beth Flye, director of admissions, MBA@UNC at the Kenan-Flagler Business School, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. "The two are very similar."
Below is what Flye told us candidates should expect in the MBA interview:
There are three types of interviews:
1. Completely blind interview is when there's no information provided for the interviewer ahead of time and they come up with the questions on the spot when they meet the candidate.
2. Near-blind interview is when the only information the interviewer has is a copy of the candidate's resume.
3. Invitation only interview is when the school invites specific candidates to interview after a pre-screening process. In this case, the interviewer has all of your information before meeting you.
How to prepare
Before the interview, candidates should prepare by "practicing, practicing, practicing" with "someone who has gone down the business school route themselves," Flye said.
Furthermore, identify key topics that you think the interviewer will ask and try to predict the specific questions that may come out of those broader topics.
For example, a common topic is leadership, but the interviewer may ask you questions about your own leadership style or what styles you admire the most, Flye told us.
One of the most standard MBA interview questions is "Why do you want to pursue an MBA?"
In order to answer this question sufficiently, the candidate needs to really understand the program and make connections to how the specific program will help their career in the long run.
Mistakes to avoid
1. Hijack the interview.
"A candidate should always remember that the interviewer is always the one leading," Flye told us.
The admissions counselor told us that some candidates go "on long, verbose monologue answers" and "they're actually trying to put their best foot forward, but they go too far, they try too hard and it gives off the impression that this person is not listening."
2. Giving generic questions
This leads the interviewer to believes that you are not prepared for the interview or for business school. It's essential to prepare ahead of time and know the ins and outs of the program as well as how it'll benefit your career goals.
3. Don't ask the wrong questions
Asking the right questions at the end of an interview can improve your chances for admittance, but only ask questions that show the interviewer that you're a serious candidate.
Flye told us that the worst question to ask is "How did I do?" and "What are my chances of getting in?"
"The first thing that comes to my mind when candidates ask these questions is it gives me a sense that [the candidates] have a lack of self confidence."
If you know exactly what your five-year career plan is, you'll likely be able to provide "tight, crisp answers" during your interview, Flye said.
But that doesn't mean that someone who's interested in several different areas won't get accepted.
"There's nothing wrong with having multiple interests," she told us. "What arouses concern for me is when I think a person doesn't have enough focus."
Even if your reason for getting an MBA is solely salary-related, be honest about this and explain what has led you to this decision.
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