Friday, July 03, 2015 at 11am

MBA Interview: Telephone vs In-person vs Skype interview

MBA interviews

In the long and gruelling MBA admissions process, getting an MBA interview invite to a top business school calls for a mini-celebration.

It means several things that should boost your confidence.

  • You’ve just beaten a substantial proportion of competing applicants with strong profiles.
  • Your efforts so far have been in the right direction and the MBA admissions committee sees potential in you.
  • You are now just one step away from your goal – a top MBA admit.

 Good going!

 But there is still some work to be done and a few key decisions to be taken before the big party.

 One among them is whether you should opt for an in-person interview, request a Skype interview or stick to a regular telephone interview. Maybe there isn’t a choice at all. Perhaps you have strong preferences.

 Before you go ahead and make an MBA interview request to the admissions team, it’ll help if you are aware of the pros and cons of each option.

Telephone interview

Top  business schools attract MBA applicants from across the world, including those living and working in remote locations. In terms of accessibility, nothing can beat the lowly but omnipresent telephone.

Scheduling a telephone interview works well for both sides. While it tends to be the most readily-available option, the primary objective of the call (one final attempt to wow the admissions officer) means the phone may not be your best bet for your MBA interview.

For starters, a telephone interview introduces blind spots in the interaction. The only input that top business schools get is your voice. Sure, it’s interactive. But not very different to hearing someone speak on the radio. You are projecting your confidence, knowledge and overall fit only using your voice. That’s the big limitation of the telephone interview.

Skype interview

With a Skype interview, things get a little brighter and better. Along with your voice, top business schools get to assimilate a range of non-verbal cues – your expressions and (partial) body language. They can get a better feel for who you are as a person. But, while most take broadband connectivity for granted, it isn’t as dependable across the world. 

Which means issues with the voice quality, video and basic connectivity could pop up without warning, forcing you to troubleshoot technical problems rather than focus on the Skype interview. That means you are losing out on precious time that would’ve been better spent convincing top business schools’ representatives of your managerial potential, rather than your technical skills web skills during your Skype interview. 

In-person interview 

However advanced technology might get, it can still not simulate a conventional in-person interview in its full-blown multisensory splendour. The best way to make an impact is by going back to basics and eliminating technology as a mediator.

Many top business schools strongly recommend an in-person interview. It allows not only the MBA admissions team to meet you and evaluate your potential; it also helps you get a better understanding of what you are signing up for. You can explore the campus, attend a demo (or real) class, check out the resources (library, facilities) and interact with current students.

While a campus visit may not be possible for everyone, specifically for international applicants, an in-person interview with a business school representative in your home-country works well too. If the MBA admissions team has taken the pains to send someone to your country, the least you could do to demonstrate your seriousness is to be flexible with your schedule and accommodate the meeting options they offer.

Unless you have strong reasons against it, the pecking order is pretty clear – an in-person interview works best, followed by a Skype session and finally a telephone call.

Good luck with your interview!

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Sameer Kamat is the founder of MBA Crystal Ball and the author of the best-selling Beyond The MBA Hype. He has been featured in Korrespondent, The Times of India, Pagalguy and many other leading publications.

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