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MBA calling: How to prepare for the personal interview
Top Careers & You
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January 18, 2008

Though there is no dearth of articles on interview etiquette, there is an actual shortage of good articles on the most crucial factor in an interview -- the interviewer's questions and your answers. Many problems candidates have include nervousness and stammering in an interview, which is directly related to the candidate's unfamiliarity with the questions and a general lack of preparation. experts present for the readers of, a few of the most commonly asked interview questions. There are no ready-made answers to the questions, instead, the attempt is to try to help you arrive at the correct answer yourself, so that you sound natural and coherent in an interview. Ultimately, an interview is a mirror to see your inner self and a subjective, specific and honest presentation is the key to success. 

Q.  Tell me some thing about yourself.
This is how most interviews begin and this is one question you cannot afford to be unprepared for.

To frame a good answer it is always helpful to know what is it that the interviewer wants to know about you. An interviewer would like to know.

~ Your educational background
~ Your work experience, if any
~ Your strengths and achievements
~ About your family background
~ About where you are coming from academically, professionally

You should be short and crisp about all the points mentioned above. If the interviewer needs an elaboration s/he will ask you.

Q. Why do you want to join this institute?
This is one question you should answer honestly and pragmatically. Ideally you should choose an institute based on certain criteria. Such as

~ Ranking/ placements
~ Courses offered
~ Fee
~ Location

It is good to do a little research on the institute, its placements and about certain specialisation(s) it may be known for. An informed analysis of the institute can convince the interviewer that you are sincerely interested. It also helps you in identifying parameters critical for you while choosing the particular institute.

Q. Which other institutes have you applied to?
This is a question that is very much linked to the previous question. For example, if you say that you had chosen IRMA because you have a flair for Rural Marketing and while answering this question you don't mention the name of other institutes known to offer quality course in Rural Marketing you are in trouble. So these two questions are to be prepared simultaneously avoiding conflicts in answers.

Q. How will you add value to this institute if you make it through?
This is an opportunity to showcase your strengths but remember it is essential that your strengths should be supported by related achievements.

Your background and circumstances can also be your strengths and can be used as equally important points in supporting your answer.

Remember, an achievement doesn't necessarily mean a prize. It can also be your successfully coming out of a crisis situation or you managing to run a small project with your friends.

Q. What do you consider your biggest failure?
CAUTION: This is not an opportunity to pour out your darkest secrets. This is a question that is best played down. For example, if you are overweight, you may mention -- "I have been trying to shed weight for the last few years but couldn't do it still." The answer should be framed so that it does not reflect badly on your career thus far, or your future career.

Another way of answering would be a smart statement: "I have never allowed failure to drag me down. I just got up, took my lesson and picked my way forward." Here it would help to have a certain experience picked out.        

Q. Why have you chosen this career?
This is an area where a mature and realistic answer is expected. People choose their career based on several reasons, such as:

~ What is your aptitude?
~ What kind of a social, professional and personal environment do you desire?
~ What is your background and achievements?
~ What motivates you?
~ What activities do you enjoy?

Q. What is the last book you read?
Many experts would tell you that you should know the ins and out of the books and everything about the author and his writing style. If you know these facts, it can't hurt, but if you are not the kind of a person who would research the background and other facts about books, but read for fun, it is okay to mention it. The only thing is that your answer should be natural, convincing and rational.

For example, if the interviewer asks you for more detail about the author you may just reply.

"I'm sorry but I haven't read much about the author. But I liked this book because..."

Q. How will your contribute to this campus if we select you?
This is a question that directly relates to your strengths and aspiration. Take this as an opportunity to showcase the various qualities that you possess which may benefit the college, academically, culturally or in any other way.

Q.  Where do you see yourself 10 years from now?
This is not when you start throwing in fancy designations. Instead, concentrate on the kind of roles people in those designations are expected to play. If the question specifically asks for your professional goals then stick to it, otherwise it is a good idea to balance it with your personal goals.        

Q. Who is your role model?
Your role model can be anyone � a public figure or even someone from your family. It is a good idea to know a lot about the person you would make your role model. It is important to focus on the qualities that inspire you and how you try to inculcate those qualities in yourself. It is always important to tell why s/he is different from her/his peers.

Q. Do your have any questions for me?
"No" would be a bad answer. It is good to have a few questions that relate to the academic and cultural environment of the institution. This will show your enthusiasm.

In a nutshell, an interview just analyses how balanced and rational you are. So, just be yourself! Preparing yourself for the questions listed above will give you the confidence to handle even unexpected questions. You should ideally write down your answer to these questions (but please don't try to mug up answers you think would be 'ideal') and practice giving interviews along these lines with a friend.

Top Careers & You ( has been preparing national and international candidates for high-end tests viz. CAT, XAT, FMS, SNAP, GRE, GMAT, SAT etc. since 1998.

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