Tips for the Personal Interview for B-school MBA admissions
A Personal Interview is a highly subjective assessment. It is conducted to know the candidate first hand and have an opportunity to know about their background, lifestyle, and experiences. This allows the panel to gauge whether the candidate has the ability and skills to deal with the rigors of MBA, and whether he/she can successfully establish himself in the industry post MBA.
You must exhibit high Knowledge Quotient during a Personal Interview. Prepare thoroughly on the following lines:
- Professional knowledge :
- Under-graduation subjects – especially the ones you majored in (final year subjects)
- Questions related to your work-experience – the business model of the organization you work for, who are the clients, who are the competitors, what’s the future of this company/industry
- Knowledge of current affairs:
- Recent national and global news
- Economic terms
- Knowledge about one’s home town/city
- Names of famous personalities, etc.
- Knowing yourself – answers to questions like:
- Tell me something about yourself – Do not talk about stuff that you have already mentioned in the institute application form. Try to tell an interesting story of your life which will encourage the interviewer to ask further questions
- Who is your role model?
- Strengths and weaknesses
- Strengths: Do not use clichéd terms like hard-working, dedicated, etc. It is preferred to explain what your strengths are, rather than give single word answers
- Weaknesses (shortcomings): Do not just mention your weakness. Show how you’re working on those, or how you overcame those
- Short-term and long-term goals
- Short-term: This refers to the next 5 years, which includes your 2-year MBA
- Long-term: This refers to after 10 years – focus on the type of role you want to be in rather than the designation
- Greatest achievement and biggest failure
- Instances of leadership qualities that you have shown
- What are your passions / hobbies?
- Greatest asset and biggest regret
- Why do you want to pursue MBA?
- Why MBA from this college?
- Give an instance of critical thinking that you have shown
- Why should we select you?
There can be 3 major types of Personal Interviews:
- The Normal Interview – the interview panel (consisting of 2 or 3 members) will interview a single candidate
- Stress Interview – similar to the above, but the interview style would be to check how a candidate responds to stress. The panelists deliberately put the candidates under pressure to see how they perform
- Group Interview – the interview panel will interview a more than one candidate (typically 5 or more) in the same interview. The panel members will ask the candidates to introduce themselves and then throw questions at them in a random order. The idea is to see how the candidates try to stand-out in the crowd (SP Jain institute of Management and Research follows this process)
How to ace an Interview
A few pointers to make sure that you make a lasting impact on the interview panel:
- Greet the panel members (with a smile) as soon as you enter the interview room
- Maintain eye-contact with the panel members. When someone asks a question, start your answer by looking at that person, however, also look at the other panel members from time to time
- Try not to fumble during your personal interview – take your time, think of the response and then answer (unless it is a stress interview, you will get time to think out your response)
- Clarify – in case you do not understand a question, feel free to politely clarify the question
- Own up if you do not know an answer – in case you are asked a question which you do not know the answer to, politely say that you do not remember the answer. However, if you feel that you can logically derive the answer to the same, mention “though you do not exactly remember the answer, you think that the answer would possibly be …”
- Drive the conversation towards your strengths
- Be prepared to be asked to (depending on your hobbies)
- Recite a poem
- Sketch something/someone
- Sing a song
- Be ready with some questions about the institute – often after an interview, the panel may ask if you have some questions. Ask 1 or 2 questions only – some pointers:
- Do not ask:
- How the interview went!
- Questions that can easily be searched online
- Placements and salaries – these are a strict no!
- Instead be ready with some questions about the institute that are worth asking; for example:
- Criteria for selection to international student exchange programs (if the institute has one)
- Experiential learning programs – student projects that help learn through experience
- Specific student clubs aligned with your hobbies
- Specializations offered in the program
- Do not ask:
A word of advice
Take lots of mock interviews, preferably with mentors who know the process thoroughly. Interacting with ex-students helps a lot. Nowadays, every college has a team which interacts with the candidates who have the calls and provides them with tips about the process followed in their college. Make sure that you interact with the team members and participate in their knowledge sessions.
At CUBIX, we provide a thorough preparation of the GD – PI – WAT process. We counsel aspirants by giving them a personalized preparation strategy which will help them project their best selves. Our mentors ensure that all aspects of the process are covered. Special attention is given to specific processes followed at particular B-schools.