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How to ace your B-School interview

SDA Bocconi Interview Tips
Joining the right B-school can go a long way in defining how your career pans out. After months of preparation for CAT and other entrance exams, the only thing standing between you and your dream B-school is the personal interview. The thought of a personal interview can make a lot of people turn into nervous wrecks and could potentially hinder their admission to a college. The question is, how do you prepare for this interview?

Here are a few things you should know before going for a B-School interview.

1. Prepare for the Classic questions

It doesn’t matter which B-School interview it is, it is almost guaranteed that you would be asked a few classic questions. A few examples of the classics are:

– Tell me about yourself.
– Why do you want to do an MBA?
– Why are you interested in this school or program?
– What are some of your strengths and weaknesses?

These questions can give you a golden opportunity to make a very strong first impression. It is crucial for you to script out the answer for these questions and have pointers ready because if you struggle with answering these questions then the interviewer gets an impression that you are unprepared/disinterested.
For my interview at SDA Bocconi Asia Center, I made sure to go through the online website and brochure. This helped me better understand what the college has to offer. When I was asked about my reasons for choosing IMB program at SDA Bocconi, I was able to provide a well-structured and informed answer.
Another reason to script these answers is to help you drive your interview by mentioning USPs /characteristics that the interviewer might find interesting and pick up on to ask further questions.
Also, prepare for situational questions by keeping a few instances in mind where you would have acted as a leader or that highlight some of the positive qualities you possess.

2. Speak beyond your CV

The interviewer is aware of the things you have mentioned on your CV and of your academic accolades. A simple mention of the same is enough unless you are asked further questions for the same. Focus on things in your profile that you could not mention on your CV.

Some colleges pay a lot of attention to your holistic profile and would like to no more than that is there on the CV. During my interview at SDA Bocconi Asia Center, the very first question I was asked was to introduce myself without mentioning the points on my CV. If I would not have prepared for it I would have struggled to answer the same and that would have given a very bad impression to the interviewer.
When it comes to talking beyond your CV, it could be anything like a  hobby of yours that you are really good at, or just simply something you have done that you are proud of and it adds to your holistic profile. Try to be creative with it, make it something that would make the interviewer get a better understanding of your personality. You can use this method when you are asked to give an introduction about yourself.
This is the perfect way to make the Interviewer see everything that you can offer being part of the institution.

3. Do not Bluff

This is a very common practice among candidates during an interview. You end up bluffing or exaggerating some skills and experiences to get out of a tricky question. This is the worst mistake you can make as the interviewers will always ask follow-up questions to get a more in-depth idea and at this point, you will not be able to give a concrete answer. An interviewer does not expect you to know everything under the sun. In case you are unaware of something, be honest about it. This is better than being caught in a lie because that would almost guarantee you not securing your admission.

4. Introspect

Before you sit for an interview make sure to analyse your profile in depth. Try to figure out what makes you a unique candidate. Always list down your areas of strength to keep them as touch points during the course of the interview. You want the interviewer to remember the best parts of your profile and for that, you need to be consciously aware of them. At the same time find the weak points in your profile that the interviewer could pick up on and prepare to be answerable for the same. You do not need to justify something, but you need to end your answer with the course of action you took to combat that weakness. This is very important even while answering the question about strengths and weaknesses as you should never leave by stating a weakness without mentioning how you have been working on improving on it.

5. Research about the B-School and the Program

A very important thing before you sit for an interview is to research the institution and the program you are applying for. You need to be confident when asked about the program and your interest in the program. If you are unsure about the prospects of the school and the program that you have applied for, it gives the interviewer the impression that you are not interested in the same. At the same time, it doesn’t mean you need to know everything and this is the perfect thing to ask questions on at the end of the interview. Ask relevant questions about the institute and what it has to offer. This makes the interviewer feel like you are genuinely interested in the institution and would be a good fit for the program. E.g. After the end of my interview, I had asked my interviewer whether there is an arrangement for any Italian classes on campus as the college offers a specialisation semester at SDA Bocconi School of management, Milan. By this, I was able to establish that I am thinking of my progression path during the course and am well aware of the opportunities it offers.

Keep the above points in mind when you appear for your B-School Interview and you can definitely create a lasting impression on the panelists!

Author – Rohan Mehrotra, Class  of 2023
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