MBA Interviews, Part 1: Do Preparation Right

Before you begin your MBA interview prep, you need to get your head in the right place. Today, Angela Guido is talking about Interview Mindsets, which will lead to less stress while you prepare, strong communication in the moment, and in general a much better time overall.

Angela's got a best-selling book on interviews, drawing from decades of experience on both sides of the table: first as a recruiter at BCG and now as an interview coach for hundreds of clients worldwide: You can find the book here.

The MBA Interview mini-series is running all week! Come back tomorrow when we'll be covering how to respond to “walk me through your resume.” And keep an eye out for a YouTube Live this Friday where Angela will be answering all of your MBA interview questions!

YouTube video

Prefer to read? Here’s the transcript:

Hi, I'm Angel Guido. A career coach, an MBA coach, a former recruiter at the Boston Consulting Group, and a trainer and developer of MBAs worldwide to ace their interviews. I've got a bestselling book on interviews, and I'm here to walk you through the key MBA interview questions and answers that you're going to face on your MBA journey. Welcome to the Interview Hero MBA interview miniseries. Please subscribe to our channel. We have new videos every Monday to help you achieve your MBA dreams.

In this video, I'm talking about interview mindset. Before you even set out to prepare the content of what you're going to say in response to the most common MBA interview questions, I really want to encourage you to take some time to establish a mindset that is going to enable you to achieve your goals in the interview. And I'm talking about three different mindset that you want to adopt for your MBA interview.

The Friendship Mindset

The first mindset I call the friendship mindset. What this means is that when we approach interviews of any kind, our default setting is to think that the interview is a test. That we’re being grilled. That the interviewer is treating this like a chance to examine us on a variety of different points where we can pass or fail, and then that will determine whether or not we advance to the next round of the interviews or, in this case, get the MBA offer. But when you think about human nature, we're not robots. So the interviewer very likely isn't going through a checklist in their mind, even if they're taking notes and recording what you're saying, they're not processing you against some platonic ideal and deciding whether or not you measure up. On the contrary, what they're likely doing in their internal space as you're answering is having this conversation with themselves: Do I like this person or not? They're trying to decide if they like you, if you're someone who they would enjoy sitting next to in an airport. This is what we call the airport test. They're trying to decide if you're someone that they want as a member of their community, that's based on the emotions of affinity, connection, and trust. Notice I said emotions. These are all emotional decisions that the interviewer is making. It's not a robotic set of quantitative decisions, like, was that answer right or wrong? Rather, it's a holistic impression of who you are as a person. So your first goal in any interview is to establish a genuine human connection with the person you're talking to. You want them to feel like you're someone they want to have as a friend, as a professional connection and as a member of their network, and that inherently is happening at the level of emotion. So here's how you do it. You just decide before you even go into the interview that your interviewer is already your friend, and your goal in the conversation is just to help him or her get to know you a little bit better. It's an early conversation in a blossoming friendship. So you're going to go into the conversation and share yourself authentically so that this person can genuinely get to know you. Make that your primary goal in any interview, and you will already be solving the majority of problems that people face in interviews.

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Confident Humility

The second mindset that's really important in your interviews is what I like to call confident humility. So we already said that your goal is to establish an emotional connection with the person you're speaking with. And if you think about how friendship works, you know that person who's always winning, who's always succeeding, who can never do anything wrong and maybe borders a little bit on arrogant or a little bit maybe know-it-all-y. The person who's always touting their achievements and how great they are. That's not the person you like the most, usually. That's not the person that you want to have on your team and whose friendship you can't wait to obtain, right? That person, in fact, we tend to find a little bit annoying at best. So your goal in the interview is not to come off like a total and complete rock star. It's not to convince them how amazing you are. It's not to show them that you’re bulletproof, or that you don't have any weaknesses, or that you've never encountered conflict. Quite the contrary, your goal is to come across as humble, and at the same time you need to portray confidence because if you don't have confidence, it's going to be difficult for the interviewer to hire you. It's going to be difficult for them to want to have you on their team because we all need to work with people who feel confident and competent. So your goal is to project confidence humility in future videos I'm going to explain exactly how to showcase humility, but the thing you want to do pre-interview is establish the mindset that I'm not trying to be perfect. I'm not going in to show the interviewer what a bulletproof and amazing rock star I am. I'm actually just going to be myself. I'm going to be confident in who I am and humble in the challenges that I've faced so far in this life.

The Interviewer’s Goals vs. Your More Important Goals

The third and final mindset I'd like you to adopt before you begin preparing for your MBA interviews is about goals. When most people approach interview preparation, they're very interested in what is the interviewer’s goal with this question? What are they need to hear? What are they trying to find out about me so that I can tailor my response to the ideal answer that they're looking to hear. This goes back to the idea that the interview is a test, which we already said the interview is not a test. So rather than focus on the interviewer’s goal, focus instead on your goals. So, as I talk you through each type of MBA interview questions and how you want to begin constructing your response, I'm going to give you a goal to have in mind for each of those questions. The interview can be on your terms if you adopt that mindset. If you go in with the intention of sharing yourself and building a connection, then your goal in each response is to do that, it’s to build a connection. And so take your attention off of the interviewer’s goal and start thinking about your goal. It's to show the person your authentic self. It's to be yourself. It's to allow your personality and your sense of humor to come across. And at the same time, it's to give them responses that enable them to know you, and to understand who you are. Those are your goals. It's not to give them the perfect answer that they're looking for. Rather, it's to take ownership of each question and your story so that while you're conveying your experiences to the interviewer, they can leave the conversation feeling like they really get you, they really know you, they really like you, and they want to have you on their team. Ultimately, what you want is for that person to leave the conversation feeling like they know you and they want to go to bat for you, and that's inherently an emotional thing. They may think you're a good candidate, but that's not going to make them fight for you in the decision room when they're arguing with the rest of the admissions committee or the rest of the hiring decision makers. What's going to make them fight for you is if they feel like they know you and they like you.

So if you can achieve that in the interview, you're doing the absolute most you can do for your candidacy for business school, and for whatever job you may be applying for. So as I go through the rest of this series, I'm going to share with you how in response to each of the different types of MBA interview questions you're going to encounter, you can make it your goal to build connection, to build a relationship with your interviewer. Coming up next, the most important question on the table, do you know which one it is? Stay tuned to find out.

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Angela Guido

Angela Guido

Student of Human Nature| Founder and
Chief Education Officer of Career Protocol

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