mbaMission Checklist for Delivering Compelling Interview Answers

This post was written by our resident Career Coach, Elissa Harris. To sign up for a free 30-minute career consultation with Elissa, please click here.

As many of you are busy preparing for upcoming MBA internship interviews, we recommend that you review mbaMission’s interview checklist. If you can answer yes to the following questions, you are crafting compelling answers! 

  1. Am I relevant? Know your audience; showcase your ability to contribute and meet the requirements for the role. For example, after listening to your response to the prompt  “Tell me about yourself,” the interviewer should know two or three reasons you are qualified for the job. Here is another example: when responding to “Tell me your greatest strengths” or “Tell me your biggest accomplishment,” select an example highlighting skills or experiences that will reassure the interviewer you have the skills to do the job for which you are applying. (Do not discuss your biggest accomplishment in a vacuum!) 
  2. Did I answer the question? You should prepare six to eight stories in advance—and during the interview, you will decide which story to tell the interviewer based on their prompt. It is important to select the best story for the question asked. To clearly signal that you are answering the interviewer’s question, repeat key words from the prompt in your response. For example, if the prompt is “Tell me about a time when you convinced somebody about your way of thinking,” your response should begin with “I’d love to tell you about a time when I convinced….”
  3. Did I sell myself? The interview is the time in the process to highlight your accomplishments. When telling your stories, be clear about your specific role in projects and how you contributed. The interviewer does not care what the team did; they care about what you did. Use “I” to take ownership of your work and accurately reflect your actions.
  4. Did I structure my answer effectively? Although you can use PAR, SAR, STAR, or other behavioral interview frameworks, you must make it easy for the listener to follow your story. Concise answers (90 to 120 seconds) with an “answer first” approach are effective. From there, quickly explain the point of tension that you faced (i.e., what you had to overcome or what was at stake in the situation) and devote sufficient answer time to explaining your actions.  
  5. Did I communicate my thought process? The interviewer asks behavioral questions (e.g., “Tell me about a time when…”) to see how you behaved in the past. When talking about the steps you took to address the situation, explain what you did and why you did it. This will help the interviewer see how you think and how you would respond to similar situations in the future. This approach also applies to the “Tell me about yourself” prompt. Your resume shows what you did, so the interviewer wants you to add more perspective by discussing your motivation for taking specific roles.
  6. Did I demonstrate confidence and enthusiasm? Interviewers want to hire candidates who really want the job. Your tone and body language contribute to this perception. In preparation for upcoming virtual interviews, record yourself in advance and analyze your delivery to ensure that your energy is coming through the screen to the interviewer.

In addition to the tips listed above, be sure to practice aloud with peers, friends, family, and/or career center coaches to help you deliver compelling interview answers. And perhaps check out LinkedIn’s new interview practice tool, which presents sample questions by functional role and enables you to record yourself answering those questions.  

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