Interviewing for a graduate school program can be very daunting. You never know what exactly an interviewer is going to ask, and unlike a written application, you can’t obsess over every answer you give. That’s why we started offering Interview Dojo sessions to our clients. In an Interview Dojo session, we pair clients with one of our consultants for a mock interview session with feedback. When possible, we make sure the consultants are alums of the school they’d like to attend.
One of our clients, “Caroline,” recently sat down with our consultant, Nicole, for an Interview Dojo session. Caroline has applied to the MBA program at the University of Pennsylvania, and Nicole is a Wharton alum. To give you a sense of what Interview Dojo sessions are like, we’ve summarized their conversation in this post.
Practice Interview Questions:
An Interview Dojo session starts off with a practice interview lasting about 20 minutes. Nicole received a copy of Caroline’s resume to help inform the direction of the interview. Nicole also reminded Caroline, that she should keep in mind that anything from her application is fair game during the interview. Here are the interview questions Nicole asked Caroline:
- What most excites you most about Wharton?
- Looking at your resume, it seems like you’ve moved around a bit professionally. What can you tell me about that?
- Why are you interested in business school now? Why is this the right time for you?
- What are your plans for the MBA?
- Do you feel prepared to take on the academic rigor of the program?
- You may find it necessary to balance the academic rigor of the program with other extra-curricular opportunities that Wharton offers. How will you approach balancing courses with extra-curricular opportunities?
- How will you know if you’re meeting your goals or staying aligned with your priorities?
- Where do you think you’ll struggle?
- What’s something you want to take advantage of while in Philadelphia?
Nicole’s MBA Interview Feedback for Caroline:
After Nicole finished asking Caroline her questions, the feedback session began. Nicole’s notes ranged from general commentary about Caroline’s delivery to specific feedback regarding her responses.
Be mindful of acronyms. In referencing a workplace, Caroline used an acronym that didn’t exactly match what was on her resume, leaving Nicole unsure about what position she was referring to. Be mindful when using acronyms in your responses to keep your answers clear.
Connect with your interviewer. Nicole also recommended that Caroline smile more. While she noted that this is a comment often disproportionately aimed at women, she said that it applies to both men and women. Interviews are, at their core, a likability game. Nicole shared, “[The interviewers] are listening to the content that you’re saying but they also want to connect.” All applicants should make an effort to connect with their interviewer, and smiling can make the connection more genuine.
Take your time. Another general piece of feedback Nicole gave was that Caroline sometimes rambled in her responses. She said, “It’s okay to pause and take some time to respond…but try to succinctly move on to the next point.” Sometimes interviewees feel the pressure to speak right away, but taking time to think through a response can be very helpful in crafting clear responses.
Prepare to answer questions about your school’s city. Nicole also vocalized that her question about what Caroline was excited about related to living in Philadelphia seemed to stump her. Nicole noted, “In any business interview, they’ll probably ask about the city.” Applicants should prepare a few notes on what interests them about a school’s city or community.
Structure your responses. Nicole also pointed out that learning how to answer questions that stump you is an important part of interview preparation. Nicole said, “You will get questions you don’t expect so it’s good to prepare for that.” One tip Nicole shared for smoothly answering a question is to start off a response with something along the lines of, “There are several reasons but my top one is….” Structuring your response this way can help buy you some time while you think of what you would like to say.
Need help preparing for your interview?
An Interview Dojo session like Caroline’s will include a practice interview, tailored feedback, and time to ask general questions about the interview process. Caroline’s Interview Dojo session prepared her for the real interview, while also answering some of her remaining questions.
Getting ready for your graduate school interviews on your own is a challenging task. Practicing for interviews is very different from drafting your essays. If you’re not sure what to expect, sign up for a Quick Call to learn more about how our consultants can help you prepare to answer questions with confidence.