8 most common MBA interview mistakes and how to avoid them

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The interview is usually the last step on getting acceptance on an MBA program. You want to avoid making mistakes because it can hinder your opportunity to get accepted in your dream school. In this article, we’re going to explore the 8 most common MBA interview mistakes and give you tips to prevent them

1) Come off as rude or unfriendly

One of the biggest mistakes you can do in an MBA interview is being rude. Manners count in professional and academic settings, and even more in your MBA interview!

Tips:

  • Be respectful, kind and polite to everyone (from the receptionist to the person who interviews you)
  • Say please and thank you
  • Make eye contact and listen carefully to show that you are engaged in the conversation
  • Smile when appropriate (no one likes a sour puss).
  • Treat everyone you speak with as if they are the ones making the final decision on your MBA application
  • Don’t be too informal. Address your interviewer as “Ms.” or “Mr.” unless she specifically invites you to refer to her differently (Applicable when your interview is with board member/seasoned alumni and not a student).
  • Don’t be late for the interview. Be there at least 15 minutes early.
  • Dress appropriately
  • Turn off your phone before the interview
  • Avoid use slang or informal communication, even if the interviewer does. (Remember that you are the one being interviewed).

2) Dominating the whole interview

MBA Admissions committees invite you for an interview because they want to know more about you. They want to understand certain aspects of your application to decide whether to accept you or not and if they fail to do so, they will probably not accept you. That is why it’s important to avoid dominating the interview. If you spend too much time asking questions or giving lengthy answers to every question, your interviewers won’t have time to get through their list of questions.

Tips:

  • Don’t talk too much or ramble. Be concise and to the point.
  • Answer each question completely, but do it as concise as possible
  • Let the interviewer drive the conversation
  • Don’t interrupt the interviewer. Even if you have an unreasonable interviewer, you’ll get no bonus points for antagonizing him or her. Calmly wait for an opportunity to assert your points and brand message.
  • Don’t ask the interviewer personal questions

3) Not preparing well your answers

Preparing for an MBA interview is a lot like preparing for a job interview. If you show up unprepared for the most common questions, your interviewer will tell you didn’t prepare. You do not want to come across like you aren’t taking the interview seriously.

Tips:

  • Prepare to answer common MBA Interview questions. Take time to prepare so you can come up with standout answers. Check our post on “Common mba  interview questions”
  • Do research about the school to understand what particular type of questions they usually ask
  • Organise a mock interview with a friend or mentor. Your real interview can’t be the first interview! Practice makes the master. You can find a second year MBA student or alumni to help you prepare your MBA interview on MyMBACircle.com

 

4) Not Preparing Questions for your interviewer

In the interview, most of the questions will come from the interviewer, nevertheless you will probably be invited to ask a few questions of your own. Not planning out good questions to ask is a big MBA interview mistake as it may show lack of interest.

Tips:

  • Take time before the interview to prepare 3 to 5 questions for your interviewer. Think about what you really want to know about the school, and make sure the questions are not already answered on the school’s website (that would mean you didn’t do your homework).Check our post on “ mba interview questions for your interviewer”
  • Don’t ask questions until your interviewer invites you to do so

5) Being Negative

Negativity of any kind will hurt your interview. You should avoid speaking negatively about your boss, co-workers, job, undergraduate professors, or anyone else. Criticizing others, won’t make you look better. In fact, the opposite is likely to occur. You could come across as a complainer that can’t handle conflict in professional or academic settings. That is not the image you want to project onto your personal brand.

Your MBA interview might not go the way you want. You might have a bad day, a tough interviewer, or you might do a really poor job of answering a question or two. No matter what happens, keep it together throughout the interview. An MBA program is a high-pressure environment. The admissions committee needs to know that you can handle having a bad moment or a bad day without completely falling apart.

Tips:

  • If you make a mistake, move on. Don’t cry, curse, walk out, or make any type of scene during your interview
  • Be positive and always talk about the good side of things (experience, people you worked with, etc.)
  • Smile (this is really important!)
  • If you failed in something and that comes during your interview, talk about what you learned and how that experience helped you grow personally and professionally
  • Never complain or criticize someone!

6) Lack of research about the school

Every business school wants candidates for whom the program is their first choice. All MBA programs are different and you need to know what makes this program different from others and why you like it. If your interviewer feels you don’t much about the program he/she will probably think the school is your back-up plan and this will negatively impact your chances to get acceptance

Tips:

  • Research in advance what makes the MBA program special. Some factors you could consider are: the class profile (size of the class, demographics, representation of different industries, etc) , the curriculum (flexible vs same for everyone), teaching methodology (cases vs lectures vs labs), clubs, extracurriculars, alumni network, etc.
  • Be ready to explain why those particularities are important for you
  • Talk with students & alumni of the program. You will learn a lot from the program just with a quick conversation, and will be able to mention some powerful anecdotes during your interview

7) Coming off as arrogant

Yes, this is business school, and yes, you will find some arrogant people. But MBA programs don’t want people that are full of themselves. Remember that you are attending an MBA program to learn, and that takes a serious amount of humility about who you are and how far you have to go.

Tips:

  • Prepare your key selling points and what makes you a truly unique candidate. Let your success and stories show how good you are but don’t “show-off”
  • Talk about yourself in the interview like you would to your father’s friend who hasn’t seen you in years.
  • Show that you are passionate about what you do, and that

 

8) Coming off as insecure

While you don’t want to come off as arrogant you neither want to come off as insecure. MBA programs are looking for smart and talented people that are want to create an impact in the world. How can they trust on you if you don’t? If you are insecure the interview is not the time to talk about it. Bring your best self to the interview!

Tips:

  • Don’t communicate insecurity or lack of confidence by giving a weak handshake or having unsteady eye contact. Make constant eye contact and smile!
  • Don’t fall apart in the interview. No matter how stressful the interview is, or how bad things go, keep it together! Never cry, it will signals a lack of toughness/maturity.
  • If you are not sure whether to answer A or B, just pick one option go with it! Most times the answer itself doesn’t matter, what matters is the why.

 

Now that you know what not to do in an MBA interview, it’s time to practice! So practice, practice, practice! You can find a second year MBA students and alumni of top b-schools to help you prepare for your interview on MyMBACircle.com.

Don’t forget to check our article “Most common MBA interview questions” and to read some of our free resources!


Mymbacircle is a community of students and alumni of the top 10 b-schools that help MBA applicants with their applications. Applicants can book essay reviews, mock interviews, resume reviews, and school-specific insights sessions via 1-on-1 video chats. Mymbacircle is helping hundreds of MBA applicants around the world to fulfill their dream of attending a top MBA program. Take your first step toward a more successful MBA application experience with a free 15-minute session with one of Mymbacircle’s mentors. Don’t forget to check our free MBA prep resources

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