So, you were lucky enough to receive an invitation to interview at your top-choice MBA program. Congratulations! Your chances of being accepted have just risen from maybe 15% to roughly 50% (although this varies by school).
Now that you have a great opportunity to cement your candidacy, here are some things to avoid during an interview, as they may just torpedo your chances:
1. Don’t talk about your resume incessantly.
As we noted in our blog post on the top five things to do in an interview, you must be prepared to take your interviewer through your resume. But the caveat to this is to take them through it in two minutes or less. An interview should really be a conversation. If you take 20 minutes to explain who you are, there will be no time left to talk about the other things the interviewer wants to know.
2. Don’t forget to listen.
Avoid being the candidate who starts talking and never quite stops. An interview is not a monologue. Answer the question, but then listen for the next one. Watch for non-verbal cues telling you that you have discussed a point thoroughly enough.
3. Don’t have an incomplete plan.
You are being interviewed for an MBA program, so you had better be clear about why you want to go to business school, why this particular business school is right for you, and what you hope to do after business school. Do not give the impression that you are going to business school to “figure things out.” Although the interviewer might not say it, they are likely thinking, “Why don’t you go somewhere else to figure things out?”
4. Don’t talk about the school in general terms.
One explicit purpose of an MBA interview is to gauge whether or not you are right for the school. If you start using generalities that would also apply to the business school across town, you will make a bad impression. Before interview day, know the school inside and out and be prepared to explain what unique aspects of that school excite you.
5. Don’t blame others.
An interview is not the time to blame someone else for your professional missteps or personal mistakes. Nearly everyone has trouble spots on their resume that need explaining, so explain them in a professional way without pointing the finger; that is what a good teammate does. Take ownership of your areas for development. After all, an MBA should be a transformational experience.
We could probably do another whole list of interview don’ts—for example, “Don’t ask how you did after the interview” and “Don’t bring your mother to the interview” (true story!). The bottom line is that MBA interviews represent a unique opportunity to help your candidacy, and they should be treated as such. Interviews require you to do research, practice your story, get your timing right, and be ready to impress. Because no matter how much work you did preparing for your GMAT, hounding your recommenders, or writing your essays, the final decision may come down to a 30-minute conversation you have with a stranger. Be ready for it.