MBA Interviews 2010 - Overview

Back when I was a journalism graduate student at UC Berkeley, I had an interview with a pretty big-shot newspaper editor. He had already met a bunch of my classmates, all competing for the same precious internship. In fact, if I remember correctly, it was already dark outside when my turn came. He had flown in that morning and had been there all day, and he looked it. He was tilting back in his chair with his feet on the table, next to a stack of files – my competitors. My file was on his stomach and he was glancing through my resume and clips when I walked in. No eye contact. No handshake. No joke.

Before I could even introduce myself, he said, tongue thick with boredom and frustration, “Tell me SOMETHING, ANYTHING interesting about yourself.”

So I did. I scooted my chair close and leaned into him, which made him look at me. Then I said: “I’m always polite, and I always get the story.” Pure gold for an editor.

He righted his chair and whipped off his glasses, and we proceeded to have a very real conversation about a reporter he recently disciplined for being an obnoxious interviewer. I left the room 20 minutes later with an internship offer.

I always share this story with my clients, because I want them to realize that an interview – any interview - is a human interaction. As such, it can be anything – serious, casual, hysterical, confrontational - and so of course it requires good preparation. At the same time, you can give yourself more control of the situation than you might think by developing a good strategy and executing it with strong communication ability.

Right now, I’m doing anywhere from 3 to 7 interview trainings daily, and I always discover new problems that interviewees face, no matter what specific school they are preparing for. I’ll try to tackle a new one each day. Some of them are repeats from last year, possibly with minor modifications. Others are brand new. Interpersonal communication is an endlessly fascinating subject for me, so I’m sure I won’t run out of topics anytime soon.

Things I plan to cover (not necessarily in order and subject to change) include: 1)    The Absolute Basics – Have a Strategy, Answer Directly, Provide an Example 2)    Introducing Yourself – The Verbal Resume 3)    Presenting a Bullet Proof “Why School X” Package 4)    One-Sentence Stories (Condensing complicated essay accomplishments into interview-sized answers) 5)    Leadership vs. Teamwork examples 6)    Directing the Interview 7)    Asking Good Questions to Expand the Conversation 8)    Walk Me Through Your Resume 9)    Good vs. Bad Preparation 10)  Handling unexpected questions

So, let's get started at the beginning. In my next post, The Absolute Basics.

If you are interested in my interview training service, please see here for more details.