Seven Steps for a Happy Interview
- by Stacy Blackman
It’s that time of year again for MBA candidates: interview season. I’ve been speaking with many of our clients about their MBA interviews and potential best practices. While MBA interviews differ significantly from job interviews, job applicants would do well to follow similar advice.
Find out everything you can about the company.
By the time potential MBA students interview with their schools of choice, they have spent months researching the specific classes, extracurricular opportunities and overall culture of a school.
For job applicants, it pays to find out as much as you can from the company’s website and recent news. Going into your interview informed sends the message that you are serious about the prospect of working there.
Get the insider perspective.
We encourage MBA applicants to seek out current students to speak with which can prove advantageous during interviews Similarly, if you don’t have acquaintances at the company, spend some time on LinkedIn looking for friends of friends who could introduce you prior to the interview. This not only gives you a potential contact willing to put in a good word with HR, but it is a way to glean personal insight into the company’s culture.
Emphasize your fit for the company culture, not just your skills for the job.
Aspiring MBA students know that they will be up against many other applicants who can match them in leadership skills, GMAT scores and impressive extracurricular commitments, so we tell them to emphasize why they are a better fit for the school than their equally qualified counterparts.
Likewise, job seekers can assume that they will be competing with many outstanding candidates. So make sure you go in armed with an understanding of the company’s overall culture and give them a good idea of how you’ll fit right in.
Highlight two or three key traits.
We also recommend to MBA applicants that they emphasize two or three key traits they want the interviewer to remember about them. Do the same in a job interview. Are you an innovator? A team motivator? Create your narrative and give the interviewee a specific identity to remember.
Use the STAR method.
Be sure to share specific examples about your past achievements and experiences using the STAR method, which means:
• Explain the situation.
• Tell about the tasks you performed.
• Explain the actions you took to get the task accomplished.
• Wrap up the story with the results you achieved.
Further illustrating your key traits through precisely told examples will go a long way toward standing out.
One of the factors our successful clients have in common is the time they put into interview preparation. While you don’t want your answers to appear canned, it is very worthwhile to think through the types of questions you can expect in your job interview and then enlist a friend or family member to play the interviewer.
Be prepared to ask questions as well.
We tell clients to never ask a question they could have easily answered through a quick Google search. Inquiries that help you further understand the company culture are a good way to go; they prove your genuine interest and can help you determine if you would like working there.
Remember, the more you prepare, the more confident and relaxed you will be during your interview. When it’s over, don’t forget the thank-you note. We tell our MBA candidates that an email is usually fine.