Practical Insights into an Interview – Part 1

Interview is one of the most important stages of the selection process of a B-School. In top B-schools, the weightage of Interview is quite high and so it becomes utmost important that you perform well at this crucial stage of the selection process.

When I ask this question, ‘What is an Interview’, to the students, the reply that I typically get is that it is an interaction between the interviewer/panelist and the interviewee (student) where the former tries to judge the latter on various parameters. This is the interviewer’s purpose. Is it the same for interviewee as well?

The Answer is a big NO. Practically speaking, for an interviewee, it is an opportunity given to him/her to sell himself/herself. However, always keep in mind that a buyer becomes less interested if he can tangibly make out that you are selling. So, the selling part has to be subtle 😉

I am presenting practical analysis of some of the important questions asked in an interview. Let’s take an example of the laptop on which I am conceptualizing this article (comparing laptop to the interviewee, basically to sell it). With the help of this example, I will explain to you what would qualify as good responses.

The very first question asked in most of the interviews is ‘Tell us something about yourself’. This question is asked primarily for two purposes: The first purpose is that the interviewer wants to break the ice, in the process judging your level of preparation. The second purpose is that it gives him a platform for picking up cues from your response to the question asked. While you answer, the interviewer typically goes through your form (which you wrote at the time of applying to the B-School). I am sharing some of my mock experiences (don’t take me wrong, I am talking about mock-interviews here :-)) with this particular question below:

By this time, you must have understood that the interviewer wants to know things about you that set you apart from others.  The structure to your answer is very important at least initially in your conversation. To begin with, a fresher can share his/her academics, mentioning only just about the course you are pursuing / just finished, nothing else. The college name should only be included if it is a recognized brand that can add weight to your answer.

People having work experience can start with mentioning about their current organization, duration of the experience, designation and role. Remember you don’t have to go in-depth straight-away otherwise you may not be able to express other points that may be relevant.

After this, the interviewee should mention about his qualities substantiated with examples and achievements. Your achievements – academic or non-academic – should be told here as such stuff speaks about you and set you apart from others.

Normally, by this time, an interviewer will stop you / cut in and will start asking questions on the points you mentioned and which he finds interesting. But, in case, it does not happen, then you should be prepared to speak further. You always have to give him an impression that you have introspected yourself well and are never short on points while mentioning about yourself (remember you have known yourself for last 20-25 years and speaking 5 minutes on yourself should not be a difficult task for you!).

The next point you can mention is about your hobbies / interests. Again, avoid going in depth. In the end speak about what you want to do further in professional life. You should attend Adaptive Goal Clarity sessions in case you’re not clear on why you’re doing what you’re doing.

There is an old adage: “First Impression is the Last Impression”. This is true here too. Be thoroughly prepared with everything you need to present as part of this answer. Also, keep in mind that while answering this question, you just have to touch-upon points that make you different from others and don’t go in-depth.

Remember, you should not come across as someone who has mugged up things. And be genuine as you may be further questioned on whatever you say in this particular answer and you will only be able to justify that only when you are genuine.

More questions in my next piece.

The writer of this piece is an alumnus of NMIMS, Mumbai – one of the top 10 B-Schools in India. A passionate mentor and coach at MBAGuru, his energy during interactions with students is to be seen to be believed. His QA sessions are as much of a hit as his motivational sessions which fill the students with tremendous self-belief and positivity.

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