During interactions with prospective students, I often get the question, “How do I make myself stand out?” Unfortunately, some applicants stand out for the wrong reasons. I’d like to share some of the notable things you should steer clear of in your application and in the interview.
- Don’t use acronyms. Believe it or not, the admissions team may not know what a CAP, ACC, or ASA stands for. In fact, an acronym that’s common within your industry may have multiple meanings outside of your company.
- Answer as many of the interview questions as possible. The interview is one of the only opportunities you get to showcase your unique qualifications and interpersonal skills. It’s understandable if you don’t have a cracker-jack answer for all of the questions, but leaving several questions unanswered doesn’t allow us to get to know you. Jot down ideas before your interview of situations at work that you found challenging, issues you faced, or times when you were very happy with your work. You might need them!
- Avoid rambling. This can be a pitfall for applicants both during the essay and the interview. Listen to your internal voice — have you already answered the question? If yes, stop there. Feeling compelled to “fill the silence” is a good idea on first dates, but not in your MBA interview!
- Answer the question we asked. In an interview, it sometimes helps to jot down the question so you can avoid going off on a tangent. This will also help you stick to the point. In your essays, if you have one page to explain why you are pursuing the MBA and your career goals, be specific. Failing to answer the question at hand might make the committee think you didn’t have an answer for the question at all, or that you are a poor communicator. Don’t leave us wondering and making our own assumptions.
- Interrupting. This one goes without saying. If your interviewer is talking, you shouldn’t be. Think of it this way: if you wouldn’t do it in a job interview, you shouldn’t do it in your MBA interview, either!
These are just a few missteps, but I’m sure you (our readers) have many more. As working professionals, you’ve no doubt been party to a bad interview….what’s the worst faux pas you’ve seen in an interview?