MBA Interview-Prep Feeling Lackluster? Learn How to Plan For MBA Interviews and Group Discussions
The job market today -
Over the past few years we have witnessed the world transform at a quicker pace than any of us could have imagined before. The progress we have made as a species has left us both empowered and crippled as it would - a characteristic trait of anything that grows with such a speedy, unprecedented boom. With technological advancements on the rise in literally every field, we are witnessing a transition of leaps and bounds from the inside out. As we continue to live in a digitally transformed world, we can’t be mere bystanders of this progress but have to hop on the wagon or risk being left out. One of the many pieces of evidence of the tech storm we’re experiencing today is the drastic and gigantic shift in the job market. Access to information is at the tip of our fingers, innovation and technology are on speedily the rise and with newer opportunities the job market is priming itself to keep up with these advancements.
With a market that is going through constant change, upskilling ourselves with the key skills required in various fields is the only way to keep up with the times. Approaching life with a sense of curiosity and openness will throw open to us the world and all the possibilities that lay ahead.
Fast services and amenities like accessible public commute services, payment gateways, tech-empowered innovative and adaptable remote working, fashion technology, the gaming world, fintech, and the digitisation of both big and small businesses are all by-products of the imminent tech boom. This state of tech hyper-activity is changing the ways in which our society and the job market interacts on a day to day basis.
Covid changed the world overnight and almost instantly, accelerating the use of technology and tech-empowered solutions to keep up with unpredictable times. Owing to the catastrophe of the decade, covid-19 brought together a tech force like never before - of experienced scientists, programmers, engineers, mathematicians, data miners and several other professionals in their respective areas as companies scrambled together to herald these new times that call for creative solutions to work. Since all of these creative solutions are enormously tech-empowered, these times also call for a technological integrity among workers in areas of artificial intelligence, data extraction and data mining.
You have probably heard of the phrase that says “data is the currency of an economy”. This couldn’t be a truer testament of our times. With the rising need for data science experts - both in terms of data privacy for end-users + data-mining for governments and establishments, there needs to be a balance and integrity maintained from the top down.
Technology can be empowering when used wisely but can also disempower when found in the wrong hands. In such an unpredictable, ever-changing atmosphere, companies are constantly on the look-out for earnest, hardworking individuals with experience in analytics who are proactively keeping up with the times and are doing so passionately. With the technological terrain changing with AI and developments in IoT, it is a lot more than just keen interest that will set you apart from the sea of applicants out there.
When the stakes are high, what you bring to the table and how you bring it will take you far ahead in terms of having an edge over other applicants. Reverse role-play and imagine the process as though you’re the recruiter looking to find the “perfect” candidate for your team. How would you go about it? What are the attributes you would expect to find in a perfect candidate, and what makes a candidate perfect for the job? Once you have that, you know what your areas of strength are as well as your weaknesses, and you can play up or play down to that.
How to Get Your Application to Stand Out -
Picking out your ingredients - Finding the right company/ environment/ niche
If this is the start of your career or you are at mid-point and considering upskilling, this is the best time to gather all your eggs into one basket. This is where you gather all your strengths and interests and explore the possibilities that open up to you once you have graduated. You have spent the past several months crafting that perfect application, editing your resume, getting your letters of recommendation, and perhaps preparing for that final interview round that will tell you whether you’ve made it. While you may have well thought through answers for the general questions that point to your future - like your what and why for an MBA program, your participation in the university’s existing community, or your own achievements and your passion for the field, what will get you through will ultimately boil down to how well-read and informative you are and how well you hold your ground through the different rounds you will be put through.
To make answers to those hard questions come from confidence, it’s best to fixate on the things you wish to reflect on during your interviewers as those will be your top five retainable takeaways. Having a mental list of what you wish to be remembered for will give the entire length of the interview some direction and purpose. Interviewers are always impressed by people who are sure of themselves and the direction they wish to take without seeming arrogant about it. This is also a great way to put the ball back in your court, giving you some leeway over the interview even if you are the one being interviewed. Pick your ingredients beforehand - your curiosity about the company + your role, the stories you wish to reveal about yourself. Educate yourself on the niche, work culture, company values, right from how they work, to why, the impact your role will drive and most importantly, go with insight and knowledge about your niche.
Choosing the right table - the right company in terms of ethics, management, work and team
There are thousands of companies out there, each one having their own distinct style of interviewing and conducting human resources. For an MBA fresher, the options are plenty as the world is your oyster, and this moment acts as a culmination of the many futuristic dreams and hopes you hold dear. So it is of great importance to understand things that are of importance to the recruiter by understanding the company’s process when it comes to human resources. Not just that, each recruiter will come with a unique set of questions they would want to talk to their candidates about or may have a more streamlined focus area. Knowing that well in advance will work in your favor as you can point your answers in the same direction, giving recruiters the impression that you make a perfect fit. Some recruiters may want to know more about your past experiences as that might help them determine your future with them while some may want to know more about your unique skill-set or even your ability to gel with people and form teams. Each recruiter’s need is different, and understanding their need beforehand gives you the upperhand in terms of setting the right tone and intent during the interview.
While you may be seated in front of the interviewer and are being interviewed, you should also consider the possibility that you are interviewing them in your own way. The cues and suggestions an interviewer gives away mid-conversation will reveal a great deal about the company, the values they hold dear and the overall company culture. Knowing this is very important as these little details go a long way into making your time at the company a productive and meaningful one.
Getting the cutlery right (the tools needed to execute your skills)
Getting your cutlery right before serving a spread will set the right context and a prelude to your final rounds. By getting your cutlery right we mean bringing the right set of skills and expertise required of the role specifically. Any recruiter would take a liking to an applicant who is well aware of their strengths and knows how to tie their strengths to further the strengths of the company. You cannot walk into an interview room for a chef-de-partie without knowing the exact set of skills and the technical know-hows that would set you apart as a candidate. Whatever role you apply to, knowing the technical skills required of the role and working on honing them will already give you a headstart over other applicants. You may have all that it takes, but planning well in advance will help you pick the right mix of skills and experiences that are at your disposal, allowing you to present a complete package to the recruiter. No one can refuse a meal set on a table especially when it is so meticulously laid out.
Getting your spread right (the right skills to bring to the table)
The one chance you have to bring the right spread to the table will be during your personal interview round where you will either be interviewed by 1-2 people or be examined by a group of panelists. All the hard work you have put in to prepare for this interview pays off here. A personal interview round is mostly conducted in the final stages of the interview process and carries huge weightage. This is a hopeful sign as students are put through several rounds before this as a process of filtration - so if you are seated for a personal interview round, it is because you have made a mark during your initial few rounds.
By the time you enter the personal interview round, the company has already explored your areas of expertise, your strengths and weaknesses. The last and final round is generally to test and understand the aptitude of the candidate and if they have what it takes (outside of professional experience) to pursue an MBA degree. The questions posed will be either personal or professional or related to current affairs. By gaining an understanding of your intellect - your past experience and current thought process, how you carry yourself, and lastly, your approach to learning - the panelists will then decide if you are the right fit for the company.
Dress to leave a lasting impression -
MBA interviews have a strict code: formal. A formal outfit here could be a trusted pair of pants paired with a crisp shirt (crisp and not crumpled), a tie, and a blazer that sets the tone right at the onset of your interview. Even within this formal france there is always room for creativity where you get to choose your colour, the pattern, and style of the kind of blazer you wish to wear. Check out gubbacci’s versatile collection of blazers, suits, shirts, pants and ties designed for MBA schools to get some ideas on how to dress for the group discussion and interviews. Crafted with care, our formal collection is bound to leave a mark on your recruiter.
Click here to view our full collection.