With all the buzz about securing an MBA for any career advancement, it would make sense for this humble financial website to help those who are intending to walk down this path and arm its readers with useful hints, tips and tricks that can help in boosting your chances in getting a place in the business school of your preference!

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Business School Interview Tips: Decide What School You Want

Perhaps even before you prepare for the potential questions that the interviewers will throw at you, it would be wise to first and foremost consider WHICH business school youre planning to apply to. The reasoning is simple – Different business school have different work ethics and culture, so the questions can be as varied as economics all the way to politics and even non-business related questions. This is for interviewers to screen out candidates who are well read and capable of thinking on their feet and to a certain extent, mark out possibly the more creative of the students for whatever reasons.

Business School Interview Tips

Business School Interview Tips : Strategies To Get Into That MBA!
Next Steps: The Interview

Of course, the most important thing is this: if youre offered an interview, TAKE IT! Getting into business schools in general are extremely cutthroat, so if an interview is offered to you, it means that the school sees potential in you obtaining an MBA, and that you’re qualified enough to be considered for an interview.

So the first piece of work prior to the interview: KNOW YOUR SCHOOL! Research on their culture and what they place a particular emphasis on, as well as being knowledgeable on matters that mean more to the school (for example, Harvard Business School places an emphasis on producing leaders who can make a difference in the world, while Wharton cares about networking and making a mark in the world)

Of course standard interview questions notwithstanding, the next thing to prepare for is well, the interview itself.

The interview is an interesting point; it can either be a rigid one, flexible, or it could also be both. That would mostly depend on the interviewer, but more on that later. However, dont stress out! It CAN feel somewhat like a job interview, or an interview for a scholarship or committee.

The interview is simply just for the interviewer of the school to get a sense of who you are as a person, what you like/dislike, aspirations, motivations etc. etc.

As such, any potential interviewee can expect the standard sort of questions like what your responsibilities were in your job, strengths and weakness and how you use them to your advantage etc. The interviewer could also possibly ask for broad questions that are non-work or business related such as your aspirations and hobbies. The questions can be anything the interviewer wishes to ask actually.

For the standard questions, these can easily be prepared and answered. As for the broader nonstandard questions, these are the ones that some interviewers would place emphasis on. Here’s where you can shine as an individual – you can show to the interviewer your passions, your zest for life and ability in excelling in whatever you set your mind to. Interviewers will appreciate the honesty, candour and the energy you place into telling them all about you!

Of course, the interviewers can be as varied in what they ask and what they want, like the potential candidates they speak to. The interviewers comprise of the business school faculty (students, professors, admissions staff, and sometimes even alumni!)

While students can be easily mistaken as lightweight interviewers, do not discount them! These student interviewers usually follow a very tight script of questions and procedures and report back to the committee. Of course, they are relatively more inexperienced when compared to the senior staff and alumni, so you might need to be a little more persuasive when talk to them.

That said, it doesn’t mean that the rest of the people are easier to please. The more experienced interviewers tend to toss curveball questions that can knock even an experienced candidate off guard. These are often questions that can’t be answered easily (or even prepared for actually), so the best thing I can say in this regard would be to expect the unexpected, and be as honest as possible (a little comic relief goes a pretty long way in relaxing both yourself and the interviewer, too)

The last part of this article would be some practical help in the interview itself. While daunting, the interview itself can be conquered with enough practice on certain key areas:-

  • First, practice by speaking about your accomplishments. It would be best to come full of examples. A portfolio of your own work would be even better!
  • Be ready to go even more in-depth than your essay. In fact, be prepared to explain in detail all the points that you’ve written for your essay.
  • Remember that an interview is all about marketing yourself. Have two or three memorable sticking points about yourself so that you’ll look like an outstanding candidate (remember Nike with their Just Do It?)
  • Be your natural self! Interviewers appreciate honesty. To be very frank, it is extremely easy to see through a faked accent or half-truth stories. These interviewers have enough experience to see through that (unless of course you’re a master liar. But I still won’t recommend it.)

For other readings, you could also see HBR’s blog filled with tips as well as various blogs online, like clearadmit.

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C.E.O @ The New Savvy
Anna Haotanto is passionate about finance, education, women empowerment and children’s issues. Anna has been featured in CNBC, Forbes, The Straits Times, Business Insider, INC and The Peak Singapore. She was nominated and selected for FORTUNE Most Powerful Women conference in 2016 (Asia) and 2015 (San Francisco, Next Gen). Anna has 10 years of experience in the financial sector and is currently a Director in Tera Capital. Her previous work experience includes positions at Citigroup, United Overseas Bank, a regional role in Business Monitor and a boutique private equity firm based in Shanghai. She graduated from Singapore Management University (Finance and Quantitative Finance).