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  • Business School Interview

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    When it comes to interviews, b-schools don't all follow the same template. For some, it's an essential screening tool. For others, it's used to evaluate borderline cases. And some even use it as an information session for applicants.

    Regardless, you should approach the interview as a conversation to be enjoyed, not an ordeal to be slogged through.

    If an interview is offered, take it. In person, you may be a more compelling candidate. You can further address weaknesses or bring dull essays to life. More importantly, you can display the kinds of qualities–enthusiasm, sense of humor, maturity, drive–that fill in the blanks and often sway a decision.

    A great interview can tip the scale in the admit direction. How do you know if it was great? You were calm and focused. You expressed yourself and your ideas clearly. And you developed a solid rapport with the interviewer. A mediocre interview may not have much impact, unless your application is hanging on by a thread.

    What to Expect

    Business school interviews don't tend to be rigid or formal. This doesn't mean that it won't feel like a job interview. It just means that they want to get a sense of you as a whole person.

    Your interviewer may ask specific questions regarding your job responsibilities or broad questions about your history, personality and goals. You may talk about your hobbies, a recent cross-country trip or the worst job you ever had.

    Interviews are conducted by students, faculty, admissions staff or alumni. Don't dismiss students as lightweights; they follow a tight script and report back to the admissions committee. Because they are relatively inexperienced as interviewers, however, these sessions are more likely to be duds. You may have to work harder to get your points across.

    How to Prepare

    You can prepare for the interview in several ways: Practice speaking about your accomplishments. Be ready to go into greater depth than you did in your essays (but don't assume the interviewer has read them). Prepare two or three points about yourself that you want the interviewer to remember you by. Come armed with examples, or even a portfolio of your work, to showcase your achievements. Limit your use of business jargon. Finally, be prepared to give a strong and convincing answer to the interviewer's inevitable question, "Why here?"

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