Students who land an interview for a university’s MBA program may think that means they’re in, but experts say they’re just reached a critical test.
Kerri Regan, manager of recruitment and admissions for the Queen’s MBA program, says about 70 per cent of applicants get an interview, but only a small portion of those get into the program. “Just because you’ve got an interview doesn’t mean you’re in the program,” she cautions.
To ace the interview, treat it like a major job interview. Turn up in top business attire (even if it’s a Skype video call), shake hands firmly and make eye contact. Focus on what you can do for them (and for future employers), not what they can do for you.
“Part of the admissions process is determining someone’s employability,” she explains.
Talk about your skills and the value you’ve extracted from your businesses experiences and how that can transfer to the classroom and boardroom beyond.
“If there are things about your application you would identify as red flags … be prepared to address them,” Regan says. “Candidates that have really stood out are the ones that have that level of self-awareness.”
Scott Comber, director of Dalhousie University’s Corporate Residency MBA, says the interviewers want concrete examples from your past that show why you’re a good candidate.
“‘Give me three things you’ve done to develop yourself in the last year,’” he says as a sample question. “‘Tell me a time when you’ve really struggled academically.’”
They’re not looking for excuses, but self-understanding. “We’re actually looking for how they handled it, how emotionally intelligent they are,” he says.
The reputation of an MBA program rests largely on how well its graduates do in the real world, so the admissions team must be convinced you will not only do well academically, but go on to thrive in business.