Interviews at B – Schools

The duration of an interview at B-schools varies between five minutes and 45 minutes. However, the duration of an interview has no bearing on the final outcome; what matters is the quality of interaction that you have with the panel. Most interview panels comprise professors who work full time for that B-school. Sometimes, the panel; of interviewers could also include a psychologist. Of late, some top B-schools are also including an alumnus/industry person to their interview panel. The persons who interview you, collectively, form the interview panel. Normally, the panel consists of three interviewers. However, there could be more than three.

With some management institutes have only one interview, there are others that have two interviews: the first is with the panel, while the second would be with the director/ dean of the institute.

Types of interviews: At management institutes you will face an individual/personal interview or a group interview.

In a personal interview, you will face a panel and answer the questions put to you, while in a group interviews, a group of students are interviewed simultaneously by a panel. In the latter, the question may be addressed to an individual or to the group as a whole. Based on the style of interviewing interviewers at B-schools can be classified into two types. The first one can be referred to as a ‘non-stress interview’, and the second one, a ‘stress interview’. As the names suggest, a non-stress interview proceeds with question asked in a normal business-like manner and the candidate is given enough time to answer. In a stress interview, the candidate is deliberately put under a lot of stress by the interviewers.

Interview etiquette (applicable for all interviews):

There are some aspects that you, as a B-school aspirant, need to keep in mind and prepare for before attending the interview.

Dress code: An interview is a formal occasion and you are expected to be dressed accordingly. Men should wear a freshly ironed formal full-sleeve shirt (no party or designer wear, please!) and trousers, polished formal shoes (Black or Brown), Belt and a tie (knotted properly). Do not forget to shave on the day of the interview. Use a mild deodorant, if you feel the need to. Before you go into the interview room, comb your hair. Women can wear chudidar / saree / skirt. If you have long hair, neatly plait it or tend to it in manner that it does not look unkempt. The bit about formal shoes applies to women too, although sandals meant for formal occasions are fine.

Entry into the interview room: You may be asked by one of the panel members or their assistants to enter the room. Before entering, ask for permission. Control your gait; don’t rush to the table. Greet the panel using the appropriate time of the day with a smile. On being asked to sit down, thank them.

Sitting posture: Sit comfortably in the chair. You may cross your legs. Your arms may rest on the armrest of the chair or in your lap. The folder that contains your certificates and other documents should be kept on your lap, and on the table. Remember, the table belongs to the interviewer (s). Avoid postures that reflect a casual attitude.

Body language: While a lot has been written and documented on Body language, it will suffice and will actually help you if you can be your natural self. While you might feel that you need to ‘project’ yourself to the panel, the ‘real you’ will end up showing itself by way of your Body language. Members of interview panels are experts who can easily spot the inconsistency between what you are saying and what your Body language conveys. Use gesticulations. Lean slightly forwards to show the panel that you are interested in what they are saying / asking. Do not lean or rest your arms or elbows on the table.

Language: Use formal language and speak in English only. Avoid mixing up English with the vernacular. Do not slang. Use short sentences that convey the meaning of what you wish to say.

Conduct: Listen attentively to the questions asked. If you are unable to comprehend the meaning / hear the question, request the panel members to clarify / repeat the question. Always speak in a slow, measured tone in a manner that everyone in the panel is clearly able to hear and understand what you are trying to say. There is no need to ‘spit out the answer” for the question(s) asked. Take a few moments to collect your thoughts. Maintain eye contact with the panel members and convey a pleasant disposition to the interviewers, irrespective of the mental state you are in. Remember, there will be a certain amount of nervousness, But you have to take care that this does not get the better of you.

The above guidelines are equally applicable even for interviews at MNC as well as leading corporate companies.