With the release of first-round interview invitations and the subsequent increase in pressure on MBA candidates, we present a five-part series with our friends at mbaMission to help applicants decompress and thoughtfully manage the MBA interview process. In this fifth and last entry on business school interviews, mbaMission founder Jeremy Shinewald discusses the importance of presenting yourself well and following etiquette during your MBA interviews.
Thus far, in our series, we have mainly discussed how you should prepare to respond to interview questions. But, of course, presentation is crucial as well. After all, if you answer your questions well, but do not present yourself well, your interviewer may feel that you lack the maturity/professionalism necessary to succeed post-business school. So, in our final installment in our interview series, we answer four questions that often bedevil applicants with respect to interview etiquette:
What should I wear?
Always follow any guidelines the school provides on proper interview dress. If “business casual” is specified, wear business casual; if “business attire,” dress in business attire. Jeans, T-shirts and ripped or unclean clothing are never appropriate. If the school does not specify a dress code, wear business attire for any on-campus interviews as well as for an off-campus interview with a member of the admissions staff. Business casual is often best when meeting an alumnus/alumna off campus, though you may consider politely asking the person you are meeting about proper attire in advance. Showing some creativity and style with your clothing is OK, but do not go overboard— remember that your meeting is a professional one, and your first impression is vital.
I am meeting my interviewer at a coffee shop. Who pays?
If you are meeting an alumnus/alumna at a café or similar establishment for an interview, you can avoid the awkward “who pays?” scenario by arriving a few minutes early, purchasing your own beverage and then offering to pay for the interviewer’s selection when he/she arrives. If your interviewer arrives before you, you might politely offer to pay for his/her drink, but if the interviewer declines, you should not insist.
Should I send a thank you note?
Yes, you should always send a brief thank-you note after your interview. Write and send the note as soon as possible after the interview—the same day or the next day is ideal— and be sure to mention specifics from your conversation or your visit. Emailing the thank you is fine. Interviewers usually need to submit their feedback on candidates within 24 hours, so you want your message to be received quickly.
If I am not sure how I did, can I ask for feedback?
No! If you are anxious about how you performed, that is natural, but do not ask for feedback. It will not help you establish yourself as being professional and mature. It will leave the impression that you lack judgment. Just wait for the admissions committee to make its decision!
Since Ambassadorial Speechwriter and MBA Jeremy Shinewald founded mbaMission in 1999, they have worked very closely with candidates from around the world, successfully guiding them through the entire admissions process ("From Start to Finish") and ensuring that their unique attributes are showcased in a creative, compelling and focused way. mbaMission senior consultants are published authors/elite communicators with top-MBA experience, who will work one-on-one with applicants to get to know them intimately and discover, select and articulate the unique stories that will force MBA admissions committees to take notice. mbaMission will work with candidates on all aspects of their application, reducing stress levels and maximizing the chances of being admitted to the business school of their dreams.
mbaMission offers mock interview preparation using actual questions asked to previous applicants to their specific target schools.
Read Part 1: Your Interview Actually Wants to Know About You!
Read Part 2: What is the Interviewer's Approach?
Read Part 3: What If I Am Stumped?
Read Part 4: View Each Story Through a Different Lens