Monday, March 30, 2015 at 9am

7 Interview Tips for International MBA Students

Interview tips

As an international MBA student, the MBAinterview process can be even more stressful than it is for a domestic applicant. In many cases, you face the challenges of navigating a foreign language and, in all cases, another culture. Here are a few MBA interview tips to get you through the face-to-face part without sweating through your suit jacket.

1. Get to know and love your Skype

It is very likely that you will be conducting your international MBA interview via Skype or online. After all, in-person international interviews can be prohibitively costly. So, what does this mean for you?

  • Test out Skype beforehand and get used to the quirks –  i.e. where to look (I know it’s tough when you are so good-looking, but try to look at the camera/interviewer and not yourself).
  • Get access to a strong and reliable internet connection. Nothing is worse than your Skype lagging during a big MBA interview.
  • Treat your online interview as if you were there. That means dress nicely, comb your hair, and make sure your surroundings are free of clutter and noise. Though you may be tempted to forego pants (because why not?), it’s not only about what they can see on Skype –  it’s also about making sure you are taking the process seriously. If you’re not serious, it will affect your performance.

 2. Prepare your answers to MBA interview questions

There are a few almost universal MBA interview questions, and some variety of these should be on your mind well before the interview. These mainly fall into the larger categories of: 

  • Tell me about yourself…
  • Why should we admit you?
  • Do you have any questions about the program? 

Prior to the interview, prepare about two to three minutes on each of these common MBA interview questions. Other common MBA interview questions are available online as well, but most boil down to these three.

The last one regarding questions for the interviewer can be elusive, but it is key. Make sure you have this prepared. One of the easiest interview tips is to try questions that get them talking about everyone’s favorite topic: themselves (i.e. what do you feel is a secret that people do not know about this school? What would you say is a key to success at this university?)

3. Fly free from your notes

Preparation is good, but remember: this is a conversation. Part of the evaluation is on how easily you can speak in the moment. Some applicants are tempted to read answers off notecards, but this leads to a stilted style of speech. The interviewer wants to get a good idea of your personality as well as your ability to relate to others. So throw away the index cards – although it’s fine to use a few notes.

4. Listen closely

The interview process is not only speaking; a big part is also listening. This is one of the most crucial interview tips: make sure that you understand the question before you launch into an answer. If what they said requires repetition or explanation, then ask for that. There is nothing wrong with pausing to consider your answer, either. Do not fill up the time with words if you have nothing to say. Think before you start speaking. 

5. Consider the culture

In many cultures, it is impolite to praise yourself or be assertive. Take some time to research this phenomenon. If you are and international MBA student applying in the US, it is very appropriate to talk about your accomplishments as long as you properly acknowledge the help you received from others. However, too much ‘ME ME ME’ can start to feel obnoxious. Find the happy medium.

6.Stand and deliver

Delivery when speaking can be important. Some applicants get so caught up in what to say that they do not consider how they are saying it. This means keep yourself from being flat – vary your inflection – and make sure you have appropriate emotion. A monotone quality will make you seem less passionate. 

If you are concerned with your accent as an international MBA student, record yourself speaking and play it for a native speaker. You can receive more objective tips on how to make yourself more easily understood for the interview.

7.  Don’t overstep

This interview is not a place to ask about scholarship money, financial aid packages, or evaluations of your application/your interview. Asking “How’d I do?” or “So, what are my chances?” is inappropriate and will not seem confident or cute. It will just make your interviewer uncomfortable.

With these ideas in place, take these interview tips to heart, go forth and leap over that last hurdle. The brass ring is there – just settle down, prepare, and take it… all while smiling politely and making easy conversation. Nothing to it, right?

Ryan Hickey is the Managing Editor of Peterson's & EssayEdge and is an expert in many aspects of college, graduate, and professional admissions. A graduate of Yale University, Ryan has worked in various admissions capacities for nearly a decade, including writing test-prep material for the SAT, AP exams, and TOEFL, editing essays and personal statements, and consulting directly with applicants.

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Ryan Hickey is the managing editor of Peterson's & EssayEdge and is an expert in many aspects of college, graduate, and professional admissions. A graduate of Yale University, Ryan has worked in various admissions capacities for nearly a decade, including writing test-prep material for the SAT, AP exams, and TOEFL, editing essays and personal statements, and consulting directly with applicants.

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