Congrats, you’ve been invited to interview by one of your target business schools!  This is your first glimpse of positive feedback on your applications and should certainly make you feel good.  Though it’s important to keep your head in the game.  The application process is not over, and an interview is definitely not a done deal.

Most of you are already familiar with the basics of interviewing: dressing to impress, making eye contact, bringing hard copies of your resume, and showing interest in the organization. But are you familiar with what MBA admissions officers specifically are looking for?  Here are four tips to help you seal the deal:

Show Your Likability

When a business school interviews you, above all, they’re looking to assess your fit.  Beyond your impressive application, are you socially functional?  Can you play nicely in the sandbox with others?  Will you thrive there and make friends?  (One top business school’s directive to its interviewers: “No jerks or weenies.”)   So, smile warmly.  Build a connection.  Give examples that showcase your positive interactions with others.  And show them that you know the difference between confidence and arrogance.

Do Your Homework

Know their MBA program (and your target industry) inside and out, and be ready with specific reasons for your interest in their business school. Generic responses like wanting management experience or being part of their diverse student body will only prompt your interviewer to say, “Yes, but what exactly about our school interests you?”  Instead, discuss the school’s unique resources, academic programs, faculty or differentiating qualities, and then explain how they are a fit for you and your goals.

Act Naturally

Your interviewer wants to have a comfortable, flowing conversation as much as you do.  So trust in your natural ability to speak about yourself.  Being overly-scripted is a definite no-no. And just because you know everything about the program doesn’t mean you need to list off all the details. Even if you’re nervous, remember the simple things like: breathe.  Don’t rush through your answers.  And if you’re thrown off by a challenging question, smile and just take a moment to compose a mindful and organized response.

Ask the Right Questions

At the end, you will likely be given time to ask questions.  Step up to the challenge and ask questions that demonstrate your interest and enthusiasm.  Asking surface level questions (i.e. ones that can be answered by looking on the school’s website), will not impress your interviewer nearly as much as thought-provoking ones.  Think of questions that reflect your own goals and interests, and your desire to dive more deeply into the student experience.   But this question of “what to ask your interviewer” is a whole blog topic in and of itself.  Stay tuned for more on that next week…

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© Shine/ MBA Admissions Consulting, October 29, 2014, 2:58pm MT