How to handle the “tell Me About Yourself” Question in MBA Interviews

“Tell me about yourself.” This has to be the most common interview question of all time. Often interviewers ask this question as an ice-breaker to gently ease into the conversation. Some interviewers, who might not have done their homework before the interview, rely on this question to get a quick handle on the interviewee’s profile. Often interviewers browse through the hard-copy of the CV while listening to the candidate. Latching on to that cue, some candidates begin to recite the contents of their CV in chronological order. However, this is a huge missed opportunity. The interviewer isn’t really looking for an audio version of your CV.

They are looking for a story that provides genuine insight into your personality, passions, abilities, and ambitions. This applies to all types of interviews. But this is especially important for an MBA interview, where the interviewer may not fully understand your industry or function. This is your chance to impress with a quick elevator pitch.

The tell-me-about-yourself question causes a lot of anxiety amongst MBA candidates. This is definitely understandable. You only have a few precious minutes to set the tone. And you don’t want to mess up. But remember, there is no one else who knows you better than you. So prepare a list of talking points in advance and make sure you guide the interviewer along in the conversation. By leaving a trail of breadcrumbs in your opening statements, you can gently guide the interviewer along in the direction you want.

The MBA interview is not about applying for a specific job. It is a lot more holistic than that. Interviewers are looking for outstanding candidates who are passionate about their objectives, are ambitious, and willing to do what it takes to achieve their goals. The interviewer wants you to give a quick snapshot of your professional story. But this is not an invitation to dive deep into the technical aspects of your role.

Interviewers are looking for outstanding candidates who demonstrate leadership at the workplace. Candidates who are not afraid to acknowledge their weaknesses. Candidates who are dynamic and figure a way out of any problem. Your role is to explain your career progression with concrete examples that show why you are a lynchpin of your project or organization.

MBA interviewers are tasked with understanding these four questions

  • is the candidate ready for an MBA right now?
  • Will an MBA help the candidate achieve their goals?
  • How does their school fit in the picture?
  • Do you picture this candidate as a strong future alumnus for our school?

The best candidates tell a coherent story around their dreams and ambitions – both short-term and long-term. They tie in the specific aspects of their story and address their underlying motivation behind pursuing an MBA. They explain why now is the right time for an MBA. And how they plan to connect the dots post-MBA to reach their career destination. This allows you, the candidate, to control the narrative and keep the interviewer interested in your story.

Most times, if you follow the guidelines above, you should be able to control the narrative. However, it is a good idea to be prepared to handle curve-balls. Especially if there are any perceived weaknesses, such as a gap in employment or a low undergraduate GPA. One approach is to proactively address them in your opening statements. Waiting for the interviewer to raise these points takes the control away from you. You risk coming across as defensive or as trying to hide the problems.

The interview is the final hurdle in the admissions process. You have made it through multiple screening rounds, and the interview is your turn to shine. Having an experienced interview coach on your side to help you practice your interviewing skills can be an invaluable asset. Something which could make the difference between getting into your dream school and getting a ding!

For help with your MBA interviews, contact MBA-Goals for a free strategy call to assess your application, and receive a personalized action plan and practice interviews with our expert consultants. Good Luck!

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