MBA Interview Tips #9 - Guiding the Interview

Whether my clients are native or non-native English speakers, almost everyone tells me their biggest interview concern is getting a question they aren’t prepared for. One way to reduce those chances is to try guiding the interview in the direction you want to go. I’m not saying you should be a politician and only hit your talking points while avoiding the original question, but you can string together related topics to ensure you are strategically introducing your best stories.

For example, let’s say the interviewer asks for a leadership story. Once you’ve covered that thoroughly but concisely, you can then contrast your success with a failure, which you can then connect to why you want an MBA and how School X can help you grow. In this case, it might seem strange to introduce a failure when your interviewer didn’t ask for one, but offering a failure shows that you are humble and forthcoming enough to admit a mistake, and that you recognize your growth needs. And now your interviewer doesn’t have to ask you for a failure, which they might do in a way you don’t like or aren’t prepared to answer. This is a common pattern of connections that I work with my clients on exploiting, but I’m sure there are many more.

In fact, you could conceivably enter this chain at any of these points, which represent common MBA interview questions, and guide it to the next link. The key is knowing what stories and examples represent your best qualities and strengths, matching those with what the interviewer wants to know, and finding transitions that can lead from one topic smoothly to the next. You won’t be able to do this all the time, but practicing this approach can help you feel more prepared and comfortable, and it can help you see the connections among your stories, which can in turn help you present a more comprehensive picture of yourself. It can also improve the rhythm of a stagnant interview, or give you a strategy against a particularly aggressive interviewer.

This is probably the most difficult level to achieve in interview competence, and it builds on many of the tips I've written about before. Here those are again for your reference:

  1. MBA Interview Overview
  2. MBA Interviews - The Absolute Basics
  3. MBA Interviews - Introducing Yourself
  4. MBA Interviews - "Walk Me Through Your Resume"
  5. MBA Interviews - Asking Good Questions/The Myth of "Killer Questions"
  6. MBA Interviews - Leadership vs. Teamwork
  7. MBA Interviews - One-Sentence Stories
  8. MBA Interviews - Connecting to a School's Culture