MBA admission interview tips from a student's perspective

May 17, 2020

Interview tips from Valentin Mladenov

My name is Valentin and I am an alumnus of the MBA program of the Executive Academy at the Vienna University of Business and Economics. I would like to share with you some MBA admission interview tips from a student's perspective that I wish I had received before my MBA interview. Here is the second part of my tips.

What happens on the day of the interview?

The day of the interview is stressful as hell. If you are one of those people that can deal easily with such situations – you are blessed. Most probably your MBA interview will be in a foreign country, where you flew in the day before. You had to do some work stuff in the morning that distracted you for a while, but soon you realize it is time to go. My personal impression about my MBA interview what that my whole future depended on it – this turned out only partially true. One more time – this interview is not a job interview.

In order to reduce the stress levels, I suggest to follow a few steps.

Interview preparation tips:

  • Dress smart, do not underdress and try not to overdress too much. I have always believed that it is better to dress-up than to dress-down (or in other words a full suit is more appropriate than a t-shirt, but jeans, a dress shirt and a jacket is even better for the academic circles). Most probably your interview will be in the summer. Make sure you check the weather forecast and dress appropriately. Be sure to feel comfortable in your clothes. Let them say something about your personality.
  • Did you remember to get the sheet of paper with your questions on it? Good!
  • Plan to go to the interview location with enough time to spare. Did you get the map you printed while preparing? Good!
  • Avoid eating garlic, onion and anything that could make the interview unpleasant.
  • Relax, breathe, meditate and smile. Your dreams of getting an MBA degree will soon start to fulfill.
MBA admission interview tips from a student's perspective

What happens during the interview?

My MBA interview was in the office of my future academic director. First of all I met my program manager (the person responsible for the whole program in an administrative point of view). Then I met two other future colleagues (our interviews were held in groups of three candidates). As I said before, one of these three people ended up switching the specialization. The other turned out to be a pretty good friend during and after the MBA program. And finally our academic director came in, introduced himself and we started. We all were given a chance to say something about ourselves, our career and our future plans. We were encouraged to ask questions to one another and it turned out to be a very pleasant conversation with peers. Then the academic director presented himself in detail and explained more about the curriculum and the program to us. Finally we could ask him questions.

Here I can give you the following tips:

  • Relax, sit comfortably in your chair, and breathe.
  • Listen to the others, do not start building your answers in your head before you have heard the whole question.
  • Answer the questions you are asked, do not try to guess what is the purpose of the question.
  • Be brief in your answers, but make sure you convey the whole information. Remember that the others also want to shine and it is professional to also give them a chance. The interview is not an assessment center (actually it is, but not in the common sense) and your colleagues are not your competitors.
  • Don't interrupt someone who is talking, even if you are 100% sure you know what kind of question you are going to be asked. My academic director does not like that. :)
  • Participate actively in the conversations, ask questions when you do not understand something.
  • Get out your sheet of paper and review your questions at the end to make sure that all topics are already clear.

What happens after the interview?

When the interview is finally over, you can finally relax and breathe normally. Whatever happened during the interview is already in the past. At the end of my interview we were all given a formal confirmation (only oral) that we are accepted in the program and that we will see each other in October. Sometimes the program management might need some time to make a decision. Sometimes it may be clear from the interview that someone would not be accepted.

I have those final tips for your post-MBA-interview time:

  • Suggest to your future colleagues to go and drink a coffee together and get to know each other even more. Most probably everybody would be in a hurry to go home or to work, but you have the unique opportunity to build on the professional relationships with peers at your level.
  • After you are done and while you are traveling back set aside some time to summarize what happened (maybe you can even share your experience and expand this rubric).
  • Create tasks or reminders for anything that you were asked to do after the interview – prepare something, send a document, contact someone.
  • Call your family to inform them that “YOU ARE ACCEPTED!!!”

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