Whether you are interviewing for a new job or for admission to your dream business school, the same old rules apply:
- Dress for success.
- Submit a proof-read resume.
- Do your research & prove it!
- Ask compelling questions.
Making a good first impression is very important in any interview. More often than not, if you make a good first impression at the beginning of the interview, your answers will be perceived very positively.
It’s your interview day. You dress professionally, have a solid resume and have studied very well for the interview. You answer all the questions with excellent examples, and you’re well poised. The interviewer is done with her questions and asks if you have any questions for her. This is one of the make-it-or-break-it moments in any interview. You can strengthen the positive perception that the interviewer has formed about you so far, or leave her with total disappointment. The caliber of your questions will determine the outcome of the interview.
When I was at Rotman, I always gave candidates a chance to ask their questions at the end or even throughout the interview if they were relevant to the topic we were discussing. Some candidates did a fantastic job and came up with very compelling questions, while some unfortunately “blew it” by asking about the tuition or simply passing up this opportunity because they thought they knew everything about the school – which is practically impossible!
The admissions officers are looking for a good fit; you are also looking for a good fit! For admissions officers it’s important to find good talent, good potential, or a promising candidate. A strong candidate is someone who has a healthy balance of technical and soft skills. It is not enough to have a high GPA and a competitive GMAT score, you still have a lot to demonstrate.
In order to best position yourself to the business school of your dreams, doing thorough research is very important. Thanks to Social Media, finding more about a school has never been easier. You can chat with the school reps or current students on Twitter and Facebook, and even find alumni in your area through LinkedIn. Every business school makes every effort to expand its outreach and have a wide digital presence. There is a common belief that candidates should be careful about their digital profile, but the same goes for business schools as well. Business schools strive to have a current and interesting digital presence to stay competitive and attract the best talent. Take advantage of these online resources and learn as much as you can about the school before coming to the interview!
Your research will help you understand the culture of the business school and its programs. Take all the info you can find, and then do a self-reflection. What are the commonalities? What are some of things you’d like to explore further? Then start asking compelling questions to students and to the admissions officer! It is your chance to get to know the school and the community. Your great questions will also add value to the depth of the conversations with the school and will provide you with additional fantastic avenues to showcase your candidacy. Your comments will make the interview more interactive and memorable for the admissions person. I can speak from my experience: I met with hundreds of candidates during my career at Rotman, and the ones who stuck with me are those who managed to give me a meaningful conversation.
An interview is a two-way street: you will be asked questions and you are also expected to ask questions back. What makes a question compelling? If the answer cannot be found easily, if you make the interviewer think twice before answering, then that makes a compelling question!
Let’s say you met with a number of current students and alumni at various events and had the opportunity to ask all of your questions, and now you feel like you have nothing left for the admissions officer. The feel free to ask the same questions: every person brings a different point of view. And if you find that the answers are similar, then you can conclude that the school has a “tight” culture and everyone’s aligned – what a great place to be if you have the same beliefs and values!
You can also ask about their own experiences and perceptions of the school. Some of the great questions I had were around my experience. Some candidates wondered why I was working at Rotman, some asked me to describe Rotman in 3 words (this was a tough one!!), and some asked me about what I loved about Rotman. I think such reflection questions are a great way to bond with the admissions officer and distinguish you from the competition.
Hope this blog post compels you to do your research and dig deeper to find the best business school that meets your needs!
Claire Gumus, Chicago
Claire is a professional MBA Admission Consultant with over 10 years of experience in the Education industry, most recently as an Associate Director of Admissions for the Rotman School of Management in Toronto. Claire currently works as an MBA Admission Consultant for Admit Master.
If you’d like to leverage Claire’s connections and expertise and get a competitive edge on your MBA applications to best business schools, please request a free introductory consultation with Claire:Schedule a Free 1-on-1 Consultation with Claire