Top 10 Do's To Crack a Personal Interview
Personal Interview Call Letter from Business School
The admissions committee conducts an initial screening after you submit your application. It is based on your undergraduate GPA and exam scores – CAT, MAT, XAT, IIFT, SNAP. Those who meet a pre-determined "academic cut off" are invited for a personal interview. It aims to probe your suitability for the business school. Practice with Personal Interview Questions and Answers for MBA Admission.
Starting Point - How to make a difference in your B School Interview ?
As a PI Candidate –
- Be self-aware - strengths and Weaknesses.
- Educational and Professional Background
- Short-term and long-term goals
- Family Background
- Hobbies and other Interests
REASONS TO PURSUE MBA
Be prepared with answers to the following questions –
- What do you want to achieve?
- Where are you heading towards after clearing this Interview?
- What is your motivation?
- What do you want to do an MBA?
- Are you the right person for that particular college and course?
- What is your expectation from our MBA programme?
- Where do you see yourself 5/10 years from now?
EXPLORE POSSIBLE ROUTE
Decide on the following:
- Will, your existing education background help you in the specialization you wish to pursue?
- Is your route based on your interests?
Based on your goals:
- What is the best career path to reach your dream destination?
- Which B School you wish to apply?
- What specialization interests you?
- Where will this investment of time lead you?
Critical Step in the Admissions Process!
Personal Interview is a critical step in the MBA admissions process. It can not be taken lightly. All b-schools meet their candidates personally before shortlisting them for their MBA programs.
A personal interview is conducted with the intention to:
- Knowing the candidate in-person
- Assess the clarity of the thinking process
- Understand their future goals
- Whether he/she is 'fits’ in the B-school
- Better Observation of Behaviour
It is an Opportunity to 'sell' yourself
Personal Interview can is the perfect opportunity to 'sell' yourself.
1) Sell Yourself
Often MBA-hopefuls find the PI round daunting. The personal Interview is a prime opportunity to express yourself freely. Personal Interview allows you the chance to put a face and personality to your credentials. It helps you share your –
- Accomplishments - academic, private, and professional
- Experiences – personal and professional
2) Focus of B School Interview
The focus of a B-school interview ranges from specific questions. It could be –
- Job experiences (if mentioned)
- Personal experiences like a recent cross-country trip
- Major discussions on life and goals
The panel intends to know your potential. Remember the following while answering –
- Approach the personal Interview with a calm mind
- Do not get hyper
- Be serious when you answer
3) Range of Questions in B School Interview
The interviewer(s) wants to affirm all that has been mentioned in your MBA application form. They will verify that all your achievements and scores are authentic. Some questions asked during a b-school interview are:
- Tell me About Yourself in Personal Interview for MBA
- How and where have you applied leadership skills?
- What is your motto in life?
- How well do you handle yourself under pressure? Quote examples.
- Why do you want to join our b-school?
4) Rigor In Business School
Every b-school wants to admit students who can handle the rigors of the business school at various levels-
- Psychological basis.
Your Interview is your opportunity to convince the admission committee of your capabilities and future challenges.
Personal Interview - an integral part of the B-School admissions process
The admission process of business schools requires the MBA applicant to:
- Attend a mandatory face to face interview.
- Know the candidate personally.
It helps build an understanding between candidates and the panel. For international students, the Interview is conducted via - Phone or Web Conference.
Questions and answer for Personal Interview (PI)
1. Justify your decision to pursue the MBA program?
Refrain from saying that you are looking for a challenging job in an established firm. Avoid mentioning that you intend for lots of money, status and glamour.
Instead, convey to the interview panel that your career choice(s) is a result of a rational and informed decision. Your answer could touch upon four main areas:
- Career Objectives: Talk about your career aim. Relate it to how the two-year MBA program will help you achieve them.
- Value Addition: Mention how your knowledge and skills will develop.
- Background: Connect your past to your future. For example, engineering students can mention how the MBA course and engineering degree will help them technically and professionally.
- Opportunities and Rewards: Mention about the promising opportunities and monetary rewards you could enjoy as a management graduate.
2. Why do you think you would enjoy your chosen area of study (Eg: Marketing)?
Your answer to cover the following points:
- Marketing is key to the success of any organization.
- This function requires a combination of creativity, strategic, and analytic ability.
- Explain how you possess the above qualities
- Mention about your seniors who have advised on the same. It will reflect upon your marketing skills.
3. How do you spend your spare time?
You can answer by mentioning the following points:
- Interest in books and the kind of collection you own.
- Genre you like and favourite books.
- Interest in activities like driving and trekking
- Involvement in any charitable work or voluntary services.
- Remember! Any activity or interest you talk about, quote an example.
Best Tips for Personal Interview (PI)
Prepare for the Personal Interview extensively. Some tips are:
- Review your application.
- Collect all necessary information about the b-school.
- Prepare answers for the typical questions.
- Practice answering questions aloud before the Interview.
- Walk into the Interview with an air of confidence and professionalism.
- Be clear about the purpose of the Interview.
- Offer a firm handshake and a professional demeanor.
- Listen carefully to the interviewer's questions and answer accordingly.
- Don't bluff.
- Be yourself.
Interviewers can easily make out ambiguous or inconsistent answers. The purpose of the interview is to know you more than your academic scores.
Your success will ultimately depend on your ability to sell yourself to the interviewer. (S)he is seeking the following traits:
- Communication Skills
- High Energy Level
- Sense of Humour
- Analytical Skills
- Leadership Potential
Qualities tested in Personal Interview (PI)
The personal interview process is a free-wheeling discussion around the bio-data submitted with the application form. The purpose of the personal interview is to verify:
- The views on paper and in-person are in sync.
- The academic and general knowledge via few 'knowledge-dipstick' questions
B-Schools also give importance to consistent academic performance. Uniformity is indicative of academic discipline, and ethos one is required to have to survive in the rigorous competition. According to experts, Personal Interview stresses on the following areas:
- Goal Clarity
- Communication Skills
- Personality traits
1) Goal Clarity
Some hard questions that you are always asked in all Interviews are:
- Why do you want to do an MBA?
- How does it fit into your career goals?
- What do you wish to do after your MBA?
These questions help measure the 'inner motivations' of a candidate. There are no 'right answers.' The only way to answer these questions is to introspect:
- What excites and motivates you
- What makes you perform your best
- What would you like to do in your life?
- How do you genuinely see an MBA helping you?
2) Why MBA?
It is the most critical question that MBA aspirants need to answer. There is no "perfect answer" to this question. The answer needs to be original and genuine.
Think! Introspect! Find out what it is that drives you. What sends a shiver of excitement down your spine when you think of achieving it.
It is only this excitement and drive that can convince the interview panel about your answer. Avoid 'manufactured' responses.
3) Common Questions
Some key questions asked during the personal interview are:
- Why do you think now is the right time to pursue an MBA?
- How will you fit into our MBA program?
- What will you do after you graduate?
Interviewers look for responses with relevant examples from academic, personal, and professional experiences. They would also want to know the reasons behind your major life decisions.
Put on your thinking cap. Do some soul searching and jot down the answers to the above questions.
Tips for Answering Questions Effectively
- Keep your answers short and precise.
- Avoid simple 'yes' and 'no' answers or responding in monosyllables.
- Show interest in the questions and sincere thought in your responses.
- Be polite
- Keep Positive Body Language
- Drive Answers to Your Strengths
- Listen Attentively and Respond
- Be Well Prepared (aware of must-know questions)
The MBA admissions interview is the final hurdle in the MBA admissions process. About 30-60% of MBA candidates receive an offer after interviewing.
So, while the odds are certainly better than before the interview, your post-interview chances are from certain. Do all that you can to prepare for every possibility.
Top 10 Don't's To Avoid In a Personal Interview For MBA !
Interview DOs and DON'Ts
Personal Interview Do's
- Dress properly for the institute. It should reflect your seriousness towards the interview. It should make you feel confident.
- Personal grooming and cleanliness should be perfect.
- Know the exact time and location of your interview.
- Know how long it takes to get there, park, find a restroom to freshen up, etc.
- Arrive at least 20 to 30 minutes before the interview.
- Be polite and humble.
- Offer a firm handshake and make an eye contact. Give an approachable expression when your interviewer greets you.
- Listen carefully the interviewer's name and the exact pronunciation.
- Always address the interviewer as Sir or Madam.
- Maintain eye contact during the face to face interview.
- Sit still in your seat; avoid fidgeting and slouching.
- Respond appropriately to questions. Quote examples whenever possible.
- Clarify if you don't understand a question.
- Be thorough and brief in your responses.
- Be honest and be yourself - your best professional self.
- Dishonesty gets discovered and is grounds for withdrawing admission offers and for rejection.
How to approach a Personal interview?
1. Do your homework
It is advisable to think through commonly asked questions. Some questions are:
- What are your strengths?
- Why are you right for that particular business school?
- Why is that particular program right for you?>
It shows organization and forethought. Mention specific points about the program for which you are applying. For example, if you are applying to the Xavier Labour Relation Institute (XLRI), brush up their website. Talk about its most sought-after Human Resource Development program. Refer to related work experience that can help you build a strong case.
2. Don't Waste Time
Don't waste time repeating the information already mentioned in your application. Elaborate and avoid redundancy.
Remember that the first impression is critical. When asked to say "something about yourself," share something that is not in your application. Avoid giving information about the school, college, marks, and qualifications, which is already available to them. Use this opportunity to show how you are different from the thousands of other applicants, not to blend into the crowd.
Be concise and to the point. Sometimes interviewers don't interrupt. It gives the impression that you have not spoken enough. It is just a stress/error inducing tactic. If the pause gets awkward, ask politely, "Is there something specific that you would like to know about me?" Make communication interactive.
Sample Questions for Personal Interview
Some probable areas of asking questions are:
- Your childhood, personality, family, college life, hobbies, sports, and outside interests
- Your professional and leadership experience
- Your career goals, political views, and breadth of business knowledge
- Your motivation to obtain an MBA;
- Why now, why our school
Be prepared for a wide range of questions. You could be asked general questions about current events and items of interest in popular culture. Nothing is more off-putting than interviewing an "academic genius" who doesn't know the Deputy Prime Minister or Vice -President of the Country.
1. How an interview commences?
Here is how an ideal interview for an MBA program likely to commence:
- Firstly, greeting and pleasantries are exchanged between you and the panel
- Then introduce yourself when asked.
- Usually, the next question will sprout from your introduction.
- Always acknowledge and thank the panelist for the question.
Introductions are a great opportunity to 'lead' the interview into your areas of interest. Throw in indicators of topics you like or wish to discuss. Highlight your achievements - academic or extra-curricular. Don't wait for the panel members to ask you about them individually. Other things that you could mention in your introduction are:
- Your family
- Your academic background
- Your hobbies and interests
- Your goals and aims in life
- Your strengths and weaknesses
Remember to BEE – Brief, Effective, and Eloquent.
2. Academics/ Work experience
A significant focus of the interview is on academics, especially if you are a fresher. Brush up essential topics. Especially subjects that could be related to the MBA program of your interest.
A good strategy is to keep up with the subjects during your undergraduate course. Be ready to answer application-based questions on those subjects. If you are someone who picks up his books just to pass your examinations, the interviewers are likely to probe you further. They will check your genuine interest in the course you have mentioned.
Remember that the people who are interviewing you are seasoned professors. It is not easy to impress them. Avoid being uncertain in your answers.
For those of you with work experience can be asked questions around it. Besides your role in your current organization, you can be asked about the latest developments in the industry/ sector that you are working in.
For example, if you work in an IT firm, you could expect questions relating to:
- Significant developments and news in the sector
- Any major acquisition that has taken place
- Name four or five most significant firms in the IT sector and the different software products or solutions they offer etc
Hence, it is necessary to know your industry/ sector well. Keep yourself up-to-date with the latest developments.
3. Current awareness/ Business awareness
Another area covered during personal interviews is the world of business and essential developments. The more you read, the more confident and comfortable you will sound. Be ready to answer any question that is thrown at you.
This area also allows creating a good impression on the Panelists. Share a unique insight or logic that could impress the interviewer. It can win you brownie points. Ensure you read the newspaper, including the business section, every day. Besides, reading a general magazine will also help.
Most importantly, you must try and analyze developments and develop your point of view regarding these. Make sure that your opinion is backed with sharp logic.
In a nutshell, make sure you do the following while preparing for interviews:
- Read extensively and widely
- Widen your knowledge horizon.
- Keep up-to-date with all the latest developments, especially those related to business.
- Keep up with your academic course
- Do not mug up things at the last moment.
- Questions in your interviews are not just limited to what you study in your final year.
Questions You Should Ask the Interviewer
Asking questions to the interviewer leaves a positive impression. It reveals more about your suitability for business school than anything else. Ask questions using your common sense and intellectual curiosity. Some relevant questions you can ask are:
- Feedback regarding your energy level and communication skills
- How seriously is the committee thinking about upgrading the business school?
- How well does the college understand the student's expectations?
- What is essential for the institute - its expectations or students' satisfaction?
- Ask questions based on first-hand observations you make –
- What is the importance of the huddle room in the institute?
- How approachable is the faculty after the college time for any further clarification regarding any subject?
General Rules for Asking Questions
- Ask about topics that you honestly care about. Sound genuine and interested.
- Research and engage in a meaningful discussion.
- Prepare for your interview just as you would for an exam. Make sure the answer isn't apparent.
- Ask the appropriate person. Faculty members can offer a better perspective on specific issues than business students and vice versa.
- Be mindful of your tone and body language. Many nervous applicants are unintentionally rude when they ask questions. This puts off the interviewer.
- Be gracious and diplomatic in how you phrase your questions and reply to responses.
Mock Personal Interview
(Here are excerpts from the interview of few successful candidates for your reference.)
An interviewer is taking an interview with a Computer Engineering student who has cleared the entrance test and GD for admission in his college.
Interviewer: Tell me about yourself.
Student: I was born in Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh. I attended The Scindia School. Ever since I was a teenager, I tinkered with computers. It was my hobby, passion, and way of learning. Like most kids, I enjoyed computer games.
My parents gifted me a computer for scoring well in 10th Class. I mastered DOS, Windows, and WordPerfect within six months. I then went on to teach myself programming basics.
By the time I passed 12th Class, I knew I wanted to study computer engineering. From that point on, everything fell into place. My life revolved around the same.
By my junior year at Engineering College in Nagpur, I decided I wanted to work for a significant IT Company. But I want to understand my organization better. Thus, I decided to pursue an MBA before joining any IT Company.
I want to graduate from this reputed college so I can be at the forefront of starting a career into a reputed IT Company. I am prepared to answer any questions you may have about my education and experience.
Interviewer: But you did tell me about your schooling, wasn't that all about your education?
Student: Yes, sir, I did tell you about my school and subject preferences. But I can tell you a lot more about my engineering experiences and lessons I learned from them, that is if you allow me.
Interviewer: Frankly speaking, I have no idea about engineering stuff as I am a commerce student. So, if you will tell me about your engineering course and all, I don't know how well I understand them. Above all, how will I know you are speaking the right thing?
Student: (Laughs) You seem to be very frank, sir. Allow me to be frank with you. I was sharing my experiences and learning from the time I spent at my engineering college. It has nothing to do with my engineering course. One of my friend's cousin, an alumnus, suggests you are a fantastic professor with a remarkable diversified knowledge base. So, I am sure about your knowledge of computer engineering stream.
Interviewer: OK! So, you are here with a lot of research and all. Hhmmm... You seem to have done a bit of homework.
Student: Thank you for the compliment, sir, I always like to be ready with my homework as it gives you unmatched confidence.
Interviewer: Keep this attitude for the rest of your life as well. You will be informed about the final decision of the admission committee. All the best.