Acing the online interview is not as easy as you think it would be. If you are a candidate with good test scores and a great application, not getting through because of an interview you did not take seriously is something you will never forgive yourself for. On the other hand, if your application is not the most impressive one, giving your best at the virtual interview might just get you the admit!
Most importantly, there are chances that you have never had an online interview before. We have all had a few professional video conferences, but an interview is different. So, practice is indeed required.
Here is a list of tips that will help you get ready for one of the most amazing interview sessions you are going to have.
Make sure you have researched the program thoroughly
This is the absolute first step and you have to go beyond the website of the B-school. Start by finding out if they have any particular information on their website about the interview process, because some schools may already post the questions or the format. You should also check if there is a set of rules that you should read.
Follow them on social media platforms, and also figure out a few pointers from their portfolio that matches with your career goals. You are highly likely to be asked why you have chosen this particular B-school, and your answer should have more pointers than just the website content.
Showing the qualities they want in you
Firstly remember that this can not be a straightforward process. You don’t want to use keywords they have used in their emails or promotional content. Think about some of the general aspects that a B-school could look for in a candidate. It could be:
Keeping your application genuine
Be it the MBA essay or your resume, you should never try to show yourself as something you are not. The AdCom of a top B-school have interviewed hundreds of candidates and if you get asked about something which you are unable to back up it will not be good for you. So, make sure that anything you write is something you can explain.
Someone with concrete career goals
At 9/10 interviews you will be asked to describe your career goals. Always remember that in the future you will be representing the B-school you graduate from. Thus they will only want to associate with you if you are someone who has practical goals. Don’t speak to them as if they are doing you a favor; rather, prove that you are going to be an asset to their MBA class.
Great at communication
Your command over the English language will matter, but what they are really looking for is how communicative you can be. If you use a lot of industry specific jargon or talk in very complex sentences then it will definitely work against you. Practice talking clearly and precisely but remember to not leave anything behind.
3. Mirror practice – Do it
If you think that this is just another blog telling you to practice in front of the mirror – it is, because it works! That’s why anyone who is good at interviews will tell you that mirror work really does wonders. It builds confidence and also allows you to thoroughly know your answers. At the end of the day, you will be talking to a computer screen, so you might as well practice looking at one.
Don’t know what to practice? Here are some common B-schools interview questions that you can prepare the answers to:
- Please describe yourself briefly
- What are some of the things that constantly motivate you
- Can you talk about a book you read recently
- How do you define success
- Why have you chosen an MBA course
- How did you decide on this particular MBA program
- Have you considered any other B-schools
- How do you think an MBA will help your career
When you are preparing the answers to these questions make sure that you are not completely memorizing each word and sentence. You can have a few pointers to begin your prep but by the end of it you should be able to answer these questions even if they are asked completely differently. For example, sometimes a B-school might not ask you about your goals, but you should still insert it in one of the other answers and let them know you can speak on it more if they want you to.
4. Keep timing in mind
Your interview will last about 20 – 25 minutes. So, if you are taking up 10 minutes to answer the first question you will end up not telling them a lot about yourself. While there is no fixed time limit for each question, it is expected that you will keep your answer brief. You can always let them know that you would like to talk more about a certain aspect of your resume or essay, but don’t go into an explanation unless you are asked to.
Moreover, don’t waste time telling them about something that can be clearly understood from your resume. The interview time is to add to your resume and essay which they have already reviewed.
5. Always be before time and test your technology
As a candidate, you must ensure that the technological aspects at your end are sound. Check your internet connection, and ensure that it is stable and has the bandwidth to handle an online video conferencing interview.
Test your webcam and microphone and ensure that they function properly and do not provide a grainy texture or an echo. You can place a mock video call to test your webcam and microphone. Do not give the interviewer a chance to get distracted during the interview process due to a technical issue. It might shift the interviewer’s interest from the online interview in progress.
6. Keep a formal and neat dress code
If you think you are the tee-shirt wearing young entrepreneur who’s going to take the industry by the storm, that’s great! But, make sure you keep it formal for this interview. It is one of the most important interviews you will be giving so don’t take it lightly. Always wear a formal shirt, groom yourself, and look your best.
Since it is after all an online interview you can of course wear shorts or joggers underneath and it will not matter. But, we suggest that you go all the way and dress the part.
7. Be eager and genuine
Never start the interview with a straight face and a dull hi. Keep a steady smile, talk like you mean it, and let them know that you appreciate the time being given to you. You might be coming in after quite a few candidates, so it’s on you to set the tone of the interview and carry it. Your enthusiasm might just impress the interviewer after a few boring candidates.
And lastly, don’t create a fake self for the interview process. Don’t try to build an accent or be a ‘B-school persona’. These things do not work and in most cases they will work against you. If you are being genuine they will sense it and they will want to know more about it. A fake persona will easily throw off the interviewer.
The online interviews do hold a lot of weight, almost equal to your resume and essay. While those are an in-depth look into your candidature, the interview serves as a more direct look into your persona. So, keep in mind that the interview is absolutely important and just because you have a good GMAT score and an A+ application you will be able to make it with a sloppy interview.
Make sure to follow all the tips listed here but also create your own interview plan. Everybody prepares for their interviews in their own unique ways, so being yourself is still the most important advice that you will get.
Be confident, you will achieve greatness!