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Now that MBA deadlines are either finished (for Round 1) or approaching soon enough (Round 2), I thought a great topic for today’s post would be the most frequent question I get from my MBA students and clients:  “How important is the interview, and what can I expect?”

Usually, this is asked with some degree of trepidation, as most people don’t like going into a situation blind where the person on the other end seemingly has all the control in terms of your future.

To quell some fears though, here are some very valuable tips regarding the MBA (and EMBA) interview, and what it’s all about:

1. They really do just want to get to know you –  MBA admission officers sort through hundreds and hundreds of applicants.  They really do just want to be able to put a face with a name, to understand just a little bit more about you, to gain a sense (and an opinion) about how you carry yourself, your level of confidence, the way you enter a room,  carry a conversation, make someone else feel comfortable talking to you, and your ability to demonstrate that you have thought everything through and can thereby easily articulate your goals.

2. MBA interviewers are looking for professionalism –  Especially at the top schools like HBS, Booth, Kellogg, Columbia, Stanford, Wharton, MIT Sloan and NYU.    You have already turned in your resume and your application – now, they are looking to see if you truly match your experience in person: if you are a professional that they would be more than pleased to have as a graduate of their program; if they feel you will fit in to their program’s environment and their world.

3. They will most likely also ask you about your latest project at work, what your work culture is like, why an MBA now, and what your “Plan B” is in your career should all your plans fail  – All of this though is mainly to simply see if you have thought out your trajectory.  To really gage if an MBA degree is truly a strategic course of action that has clear benefits to your personally stated goals, or if it is something you are just doing because you want to change course to something and don’t really know what else to do at this time in your career (i.e. not a good answer).

4. And, finally, they want to see how you close a meeting.  In the interview and in life, always leave on a strong note –  Ideally, you wan to leave the interviewer feeling solid about the time they’ve spent with you.  To leave them with the impression that it was a pleasure to get to know you and who you are.  You do this, once again, by projecting confidence:  confidence in your goals, confidence in your plans, confidence in your trajectory.

All these things combined will add up to one great interview, and if your resume, essays, and test scores can back all of that up?  Well, you’ll be on your way towards exactly where you want to go.

[I’m a former Harvard admissions interviewer and a Harvard graduate.  I currently run the MBA admissions firm MBA IVY, out of Manhattan. I also offer free interview prep for all of my official clients. Take a look at my website, and contact me today!  www. ]

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