How Business Schools Help MBA Students Excel at Job Interviews |

How Business Schools Help MBA Students Excel at Job Interviews

By Francesca Di

Updated March 5, 2020 Updated March 5, 2020

Business schools are masters in helping people snag their dream job. MBA students utilize mock interviews to prepare to win over potential employers. It’ll be easier for you to prepare for interactions with recruiters if you understand what goes into organizing a mock interview at a top b-school.

Chris Collier, MBA Career Coach at the Olin Business School at the Washington University in St. Louis said: “Mock interviews are your opportunity to see how your message may land with a potential employer.

“You become comfortable sharing how your journey has led you to this discussion. It also gives the student a chance to practice the appropriate level of detail in their answers.”

At top business schools, career coaches, alumni, and peers serve as interviewers, and the process begins before you sit down to practice. Career departments and student clubs may host these mock interviews that could be either behavioral or case interviews.

In some ways, the mock interview serves as a foundation for preparing for your future life post-graduation.

Top business school experts shared their tips on how to organize a mock interview with QS. This is what we found out:

Do your homework

Just like you would for an actual job interview, it’s important to prepare for a mock interview too. This will help you hone your research skills and get a feel of what you should be seeking out ahead of a job interview.

This means researching about the company and those who will be interviewing you, getting a sense of the pay scale, and the role for which you could be hired. But it also means conducting self-assessment and reflection.

“MBA students often think, ‘Who’s going to hire me?’ because they want the name,” says Bryn Panee Burkhart, senior associate director at MIT Sloan School of Management’s Sloan Career Development Office. “But it’s more than that.” She suggests reviewing your core competencies and asking yourself:

  • Who am I?
  • What do I do well?
  • What do I want to do next?

Figure out what sets you apart

By asking yourself the right questions, you can begin to determine what makes you a standout candidate for the company and role. Going deeper will help you gain a competitive edge.

Chris Collier said: “Our professors discuss this concept of Competitive Advantage throughout our Global Immersion programming, when MBA students spend weeks on the ground in foreign economies and cultures.

“Being able to read a P&L statement or balance sheet is not a competitive advantage. What do you do differently with that information? Do you see connections others don’t see? Are you able to correlate the data to results and turn them into actionable strategies? Can you share tangible business results you have achieved using your competitive advantage?”

Record or videotape yourself

Business schools have MBA students interview with alumni, career coaches, or peers to practice for job interviews.

Some of the schools videotape the interviews, so students can watch them to see their behavior and the language they use. It’s a way to see where you’re stumbling and determine what’s working and what needs improvement – like recognizing ways to edit your body language or tone.

Panee Burkhart suggests recording at least your audio responses to common interview questions.

Make sure the responses are packed with supportive information that makes your case, but your responses should be brief and no longer than 90 seconds, suggests Panee Burkhart. After all, people’s attention spans are short, and those you need to convince are busy. Streamline your responses until they fit those parameters.

Get down your elevator pitch

Your elevator pitch is the short – no longer than a few minutes – case you make for deserving the job. It’s an overall pitch for your competency, work ethic, and passion.

Within this short time frame, you need to prove your experience and make a good impression. The idea is that if you ran into a potential employer in an elevator, you’d be able to convince her you’re the person to hire before you arrive at your destination. Use the mock interview to practice getting to the point.

Collier said: “Mock interviews can help students find the sweet spot of providing enough information to be considered highly qualified and compelling but not boring.”  

Take action on feedback

Students at Babson College, F.W. Olin Graduate School of Business receive written and oral feedback from mock interviews. The purpose of written feedback is so they can refer to it as needed and make amendments to their approach.

Cheri Paulson, senior director of the Graduate Center for Career Development at Babson College in Wellesley, Massachusetts said: “Students need to practice this art and fine tune their ‘performance’ and ‘content.’ Both are equally as important.

“How is your eye contact, pace, inflection, authenticity, is equally as important as the content to prove their value.”

Clearly, mock interviews can help MBA students prepare for job interviews. There’s something to be gained from participating in such training. The people who oversee your practice interview can provide valuable feedback for you to be able to take a proactive approach towards improving your interview skills – especially if a few people are telling you the same things. Also, the simple act of practicing can make you feel more comfortable, which will come in handy when you sit down for the real interview.

Panee Burkhart said: “So much of an interview comes down to how well you prepare and how confident you are. Doing groundwork rather than answering on the fly will get you much farther.”

This article was originally published in March 2020 .

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Written by

Francesca Di Meglio has written about higher education for two decades. She covered business schools and all aspects of management education for what became Bloomberg Businessweek from May 2004 to December 2013. Di Meglio was the consultant editor for the book Admitted: An Interactive Workbook for Getting into a Top MBA Program (85 Broads Publishing, 2011), which was written by admissions consultant Betsy Massar. In addition, she is a family travel and parenting blogger at the Italian Mamma website


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