A guide to ace your B-school interview

Updated: Feb 22, 2020

You are on the last leg of admissions to your dream B-school - the dreaded PI (Personal Interview) round. Most top tier B-schools use the PI round to get to know you better, asses your clarity of thought, presence of mind, and your value system. It is also your greatest chance to impress upon the admissions panel.

Interview formats

B-school interviews were always dreaded because of so called Stress Interview format.

The idea was to put you in uncharted territory and bombard you with questions and counter-questions to put yourself on backfoot. Since B-school curricula can be intensely demanding, a stress interview was traditionally used to test your mettle, whether you can defend your thought process. While it is still in vogue, many B-schools are either moving away from this Stress interview format or toning it down.

Introducing a program alumni is a step in this direction. B-school admission panels now seek to test your skills in a conversational manner, and will even help you by dropping hints at the right places. The smart ones are quick to pick up the hints and succeed.

Know yourself

This is the most crucial step to acing your dream B-school interview. Discovering yourself starts the day you decide to take the CAT or GMAT or other competitive exams. You introspect on why MBA matters to you at this stage of your career, how you can contribute to the cohort at your B-school, and how it all fits in with your life goals.

Reflection should be a part of all your activities leading up to the interview panel.

Know your resume

Aside from knowing yourself, you must know your resume inside out. Every point on your resume must strike a compelling story in you, that you can portray to the interview panel using STAR-L or PARADE framework.

Expect any questions under the sun related to your resume, and be ready to defend any counter-questions. You would be surprised by the extent panels have the ability to deep-dive in yourself just by reading your resume and looking at your body language.

For me personally, B-school interviews have been a journey towards self realization and creation of a better self.

Know your panel

Yes its very difficult to know your panel. Top tier B-schools take all initiatives to prevent any opportunism among interview panel members. Accordingly, even the panel members are themselves not aware of who their next candidate might be.

However, you can always talk with other candidates, your peer group, or alumni to get to know the kind of persons you can expect on the interview panel.

Dress sharp

Yes this is essential. Dressing sharply not only portrays you as someone ready to take the leap, but also accentuates your personality. You don’t want to be odd one out dressed casually.

Choose warm simple colors for your shirt / blouse, and business suits in shades of blue, black or grey. For men, it is best to have an elegant tie on. Don’t overdo, but also don’t leave any holes behind. When in doubt, seek feedback on your dress from peers or family.

How to prepare

There is no unique formula for preparation to success. Preparation has to be customized to the needs of each individual. You can, however, work on the following basics.

  1. Practice communicating your CV points in STAR-L or PARADE format. Have a story at the back of your mind that you can recall instantly

  2. Be ready to deep-dive in any of your CV points or your essays and SoP. Read them, understand the context and frame of mind when your wrote them, and link them to your interviewer’s questions

  3. Be prepared to stand by your views. Interviewers would always pose counter-questions to derail your train of thought. If you can defend your view logically, half the battle is won. However, you may be wrong in your view and the interviewer may actually try to help you correct it. Don’t be too rigid. Its important to practice and realise the fine balance between standing ground and being rigid

  4. Take your time. When stuck or when you realise the interview is going into uncharted territory, take a step back, ask your interviewer for a pause. They won’t mind. They want the best candidate to succeed

  5. Always ask pertinent questions while leaving the interview room. This showcases your eagerness and poise. Leave with a warm smile.

Practice makes perfect. Be sure to practice in front of the mirror, with your friends or peer groups, or with professional coaches.

Get in touch with us for further guidance on how to prepare for your interview.

#success #interviewprep #aceit #toptier

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