And your interviewer is…..

MBA alumni interviews are a stressful part of the process – you never know how much impact this interview and that specific alumna will have on the final decision, so it’s natural to stress out about the process.

Not all MBA alumni Interviews are the same…

If you are interviewing with schools like LBS, INSEAD, Columbia, Kellogg and others that use alumni as interviewers for potential MBA students,  the sheer number of alumni  in most areas of the world and the variety found in human nature mean that you are probably in a for a surprise,. Some people are extroverted, some are not; some will like you and make you feel comfortable, some will grill you to test your behavior under pressure; some will stick to the six questions provided by the school, some will create their own ideal interview format. Be ready to be surprised.

How to pick the right MBA interviews

Some schools will give you the option to select an interviewer out of 2-3 in your area. This is a tricky situation – should you pick the recent grad or a senior manager who’s been in finance/consulting/marketing for 15 years? Should you pick a local (someone who speaks your language, can understand your context) or a foreigner? There are no right or wrong answers here; it’s mostly about what will make you feel comfortable. Some students are intimidated by the idea of being interviewed by a managing director who has seen many generations of MBA applicants; some  are worried that a recent graduate in their intended post-MBA field will feel some kind of jealousy or competition. In any case, if you have any feedback from other people, that could be helpful, but as financial services ads say,  “Past performance is no indication of future returns.”

Be prepared for the best (and the worst) 

While MBA interviews with an admissions committee or a second-year student on campus (or via Skype) are often structured and limited in time (30 minutes to 1 hour), an alumni interview can last up to two hours. While you might develop a solid relationship with the interviewer and impress her, it’s difficult not to step out of role. You might even end up contradicting yourself or sharing something that didn’t reflect positively on your profile.  You need to be prepared to talk about your experience, your resume and your career goals, as well as current business events. Don’t think that because you are great at interviewing for jobs or a decent public speaker, you don’t need to practice. You’ve heard this before: practice makes perfect. Hearing yourself specify your career goals, talk about “Why INSEAD / LBS / Columbia / Kellogg,” and handle curve-balls will make you feel more confident and perform better on interview day.

Let me help. Email to schedule your mock interview for your dream MBA program.

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