Not all business schools attach equal value to the interview. For some, it's an essential screening tool. For others, it's used to evaluate borderline cases. Still others strongly encourage, but do not require, the interview. Some schools make it simply informative. If you can't schedule an on-campus interview, the admissions office may find an alum to meet with you in your hometown.

A great interview can tip the scale in the admit direction. How do you know if it was great? You were calm and focused. You expressed yourself and your ideas clearly. Your interviewer invited you to go rock climbing with him next weekend. (Okay, let’s just say you developed a solid personal rapport with the interviewer.)

A mediocre interview may not have much impact, unless your application is hanging on by a thread. In such a case, the person you're talking to (harsh as it may seem) is probably looking for a reason not to admit you, rather than a reason to let you in. If you feel your application may be in that hazy, marginal area, try to be inspired in your interview.

If an interview is offered, take it. In person, you may be an entirely more compelling candidate. You can further address weaknesses or bring dull essays to life. Most important, you can display the kinds of qualities - enthusiasm, sense of humour, maturity - that often fill in the blanks and sway a decision.

What to expect
In general, business school interviews are not formulaic. The focus can range from specific questions about your job responsibilities to broad discussions of life. Approach the interview as a conversation to be enjoyed, not as a question-and-answer ordeal to get through. You may talk more about your hobbies or recent cross-country trip. This doesn't mean that it won't feel like a job interview. It just means you're being sized up as a person and future professional in all your dimensions. Try to be your witty, charming, natural self. Interviews are conducted by students, faculty, admissions personnel and alumni.

Don't dismiss students as the lightweights; they follow a tight script and report back to the committee. However, because they're inexperienced beyond the script, their interviews are most likely to be duds. You may have to work harder to get your points across.

How to prepare
Prepare for the interview in several ways: Expect to discuss many things about yourself. Be ready to go into greater depth than you did in your essays (but don't assume the interviewer has read them). Put together two or three points about yourself that you want the interviewer to remember you by. Go in with examples, or even a portfolio of your work, to showcase your achievements. Practice speaking about your accomplishments without a lot of "I did this, I did that's." Finally, be prepared to give a strong and convincing answer to the interviewer's inevitable question, "Why here?"

Source: The Princeton Review
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