The first hurdle business school applicants must clear is getting an interview. And at some schools, that is nearly impossible. At Harvard Business School, for example, only roughly 20% of applicants are invited to interview. if you are one of the lucky few who do get invited to tell their story, keep in mind that somewhere around half of all interviewed applicants gain admission.
We at Stratus Admissions have put together some interview “do’s” and “don’ts” with an eye toward helping you tell a story that gets admissions committees excited about you as a future student in their program.
To keep an uplifting attitude, here are some of the do’s:
1. Do walk in with a smile.
An interview is a great opportunity to tell your story in a personal way to an audience who actually cares. Since you have been invited to interview, it is clear that they already like you. This is a good thing, so smile! Now, show them why they should love you.
2. Do dress to impress.
Follow instructions. If the school does not specify a dress code, go with business attire. If you are instructed to wear a bathing suit, bust out your most business-like trunks. For all intents and purposes, you are meeting the school in person for the first time, so dress accordingly.
3. Do know your resume.
You will almost certainly be asked to “tell your story.” Often, this means, “Take me through your resume.” So, you had better know your resume thoroughly—and not just the big stuff (e.g., where you worked) but also the little stuff. Check out the last line of your resume. Are you really prepared to explain what your interest in “fitness” means or what you actually did when you wrote that you “volunteered”?
4. Do know what type of interview it is.
Sometimes your interviewer will be an alumnus, sometimes a student, and sometimes a member of the admissions staff. Sometimes the interviewer has seen your whole application, and sometimes the only thing they see beforehand is your resume. The person interviewing you and the information they have in advance will directly affect the tone and tenor of the interview. If you are having coffee with an alumnus who is armed with your resume, the interview is probably focused on fit (Can the interviewer see you at their school?) and is likely to be low key. If are interviewing with a member of the admissions staff who has read your entire application, you may have a tougher conversation ahead. No matter what, know what you are in for and prepare accordingly.
And, of course, a remote interview is a whole different experience entirely. Check out our article on remote interviews to help you prepare.
5. Do talk about the school.
Just like people, schools want to be loved. Be prepared to tell your interviewer why you love the program, why it is the perfect place for you, and how you are the perfect fit for it. Share the research you did (Hint: do your research now if you have not done so already!) and show you understand how this business school is like no other. And make sure that you know how to pronounce the name of the school and have its “lingo” down.
Although we suggest that you know your resume well, there is also the danger of knowing your resume too well. To address this issue, see our list of Interview Don’ts.
For even more do’s, check out another article we wrote on acing your interview!