The SP Jain Blog

What you shouldn’t say in an MBA admissions interview

Yesterday’s admissions interviews were a great learning experience. Having been through the same process just a few months back, it felt felt good to be on the other side of the fence — for once. I was assigned to room FMB2 for the whole day. In total, I sat through 5 rounds of interviews. Here are my observations:

When the panel asks you to “tell us briefly about yourself,” it’s really NOT a good idea to talk about your primary school, your high school, your college(s), your marks in each of these, your family, it’s composition, and what each of them is doing in life, and finally saying just a sentence or two about your job(s). That’s not what the panel wants to hear. For heaven’s sake this is an MBA program. Act MATURE! The panel is more interested in what you are as a person. Be very brief about your background (it’s all there in your application and the panel has read it all). But talk passionately about your profession and about your achievements. Talk passionately about your hobbies and your extra-curricular activities. Talk about something that makes you unique. Have the panel hooked on to what you are saying. I know it’s easier said than done, but that is what is required.

Forget whatever they told you to do in those CAT coaching (actually, brain-washing) centres. Only God knows how many lives they are messing around with — each year. Just be who you are. Don’t try to be someone that you are not. Don’t ask the panel if you can come in when they are the ones actually asking you to come in. Don’t begin with a “Good Morning/Afternoon/Evening friends,” and then pause to look around at everyone. It’s really a great way to look dumb. You wouldn’t believe how many people actually did that yesterday. Answer any question asked to the point. Don’t make the panel repeatedly ask you to come to the point. It’s quite alright to admit that you don’t know something rather than to fib about it. The panel understands. Not everyone can know everything under the Sun.

I remember someone telling me once that an MBA admissions interview is an event where you have to “sell” yourself. I think he is right. Learn to market yourself. You will be surprised at the results.


A classic example of the CAT brain-washing — oops, coaching — centres can be observed during Group Discussions. During one such interview for an upcoming MBA college, I almost fell off my chair laughing. One of the guys actually said, “I think my friend here has a point to say,” and pointed at me. Well, I am not your friend. I just met you five-minutes back. If I want to say something, I know when to say it. Thank you for your kindness.

I would love to hear your opinions on this one.

4 thoughts on “What you shouldn’t say in an MBA admissions interview

  1. I have never been on an interview panel. I hope get such an opportunity soon.

    Good for u tho! But don’t be too harsh. Don’t forget that will be on the other side of the fence again next year ;)

    But i agree with the brain-washing. I accompanied a friend of mine to one of these institutes once and I didnt find it helpful at all except for the fact that you get to practice ur GD skills.

  2. Hey u may be of great help 2 me kano..i just recieved my Masters degree and may take ur help regarding what way an interviewer thinks and looks forward 2 in their candidates..

  3. Dude…u always have something or the other which is informative up ur sleev. Cool man!… this one though its of great help man… keep it up n keep posting.

  4. I guess nothing wrong in trying and in the process learning new things. At that moment it might seem like stupid and very much funny but every one goes through the process of getting more mature. You are mature in mind in many level and might seem funny if others do things that thay have never done or seen (and to lot extent following blindly) and you already have mature way to do those things. But in my understanding, you should be smiling on people who never grow and just do cause they have to do it.

    Over all good to read your blog. How about posting your writings on topics related to management or any other related topic in business (assuming your in that field).


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