Unvarnished pearls continued (Interviews – Part III)

Continued from B school Interviews – Part II

What to DO:

During the Interview

Be an INTERACTIVE story teller: Remember that this is not a monologue, even though you are expected to tell your story. The interview is an interactive process where you not just tell, but SHARE your experiences, with your interviewer. Help your interviewer to understand where you come from and why you wish to head in a certain direction in the future. As consultants would say: “Have an agenda for the meeting (read: be organized and structured and have a clear idea of what you want to present to the interviewer and how you want to present it), but be prepared at all times to let go of your agenda (read: if the interviewer isn’t interested in the presentation you’ve planned and wants to dive down other paths, be flexible enough to follow their lead without losing the messages you want to convey.)”

For example, let’s say one of your key strengths is leadership, and you want to emphasize your leadership experiences during the interview. But the interviewer is more interested in your team work experiences. Then you should definitely provide great examples of team work to address the interviewer’s concerns, while still keeping some of your own points on leadership. One thing to watch out for is to not let your interviewer de-rail you completely, esp if he/she is poking into your weaknesses and missing out on all your strengths. Whenever they try to make an experience you’ve had seem like a “failure” or weakness, don’t just admit to it, but rather always point out what you’ve learned from the experience and how you’ve improved since then.

Watch for your CUES: Your interviewer will likely take some notes or glance at his/her watch throughout the process. This is expected, so don’t contribute too much significance to these actions. What you should watch out for are verbal and non-verbal cues as to whether the interviewer is engaged throughout the interview.

1. Example verbal cues to give more details and keep on talking:

  • “So tell me more about…”
  • “What are some other examples of this…”
  • “And then you did what…”
  • “Please go on…”
  • “That’s interesting…”

2. Example non-verbal cues:

  • Leaning forward in chair
  • Direct eye contact
  • Nodding
  • Smiling

3. Example verbal cues to shut up and move on:

  • “Right. What about other…”
  • “OK, got it.”
  • “Uh huh, uh huh…”
  • “OK, let’s move on…”

4. Example non-verbal cues:

  • Writing notes without acknowledging that you’re talking for a while, sometimes accompanied by absent- minded murmurs
  • Looking at the watch more than necessary (i.e. more than once in 5 minutes)
  • No eye contact for a while

After the Interview

Send a brief thank you note and sit tight: Some of you might be very good at writing “killer” thank you letters. I’m not. Unlike this blog, I tend to be very blunt, direct, and succinct in my formal communications. All of my thank you’s have been less than 3 lines of text. I figure, sucking up over email or phone after an interview won’t really add any points in your favor. In fact, you might even lose points for seeming sycophantic. And whatever you do, don’t call the interviewer for information on your admissions progress. They don’t really know. Most interviewers find out about the decision when you do, or only a day or so beforehand. Feel free to email with genuine Qs, but I doubt that communications post interview will improve the impression the interviewer formed of you from the interview itself.

Hope this helps. Best of luck!