How can a non-chatty person keep a panel engaged during a 30-minute business school interview?

Prepwise AnswersCategory: MBA AppsHow can a non-chatty person keep a panel engaged during a 30-minute business school interview?
Career Dev Staff Staff asked 5 years ago
1 Answers
Kate McKeon Staff answered 5 years ago

Some folks think the interview process requires them to be entertainers or conversationalist, here’s the good news – not so!

Each school has it’s own flavor for the interview so make sure you identify the school’s style. Interviews can be one-on-one, you + panel, you in case setting then one-on-one, etc. It’s an evolving hurdle. Find out as much as you can from the admissions office before you go.

**Have a friend already at the school? Cool! Sometimes they have the inside scoop. But don’t depend on them entirely. Schools can change interview styles so ask the adcom.

So how do you keep them engaged whether one or many? Be interesting. Be interested.

Interesting doesn’t mean go punch a shark in the nose so you can tell the story later, but it does mean that you should know who you are as a person and as a professional. And you should be interested in your professional path and the school. It’s really difficult to get others interested in you if you aren’t interested in you.

((side note: this doesn’t excuse self absorbed behavior – you should be interested and excited about what you think you’re going to do with your career, not how sweet you look in acid-washed denim.))  

High level for all applicants:

  • Consider your resume walk through. Will it be chronological or thematic? Or something more creative?


  • How well do you understand who you are? Are you a bro who thinks beer is the highlight of the week(end)? Are you a computer nerd who prefers orcs to ppl? Are you kinda just someone in the middle trying to make it through life unscathed? Don’t worry about someone else’s judgment of who you are, but own who you are. You’ve invested 24+ years in the making of whatever you are now. Own it. Share appropriately.


  • Always have a bevy of stories that can showcase your skills – preferably from multiple angles. Skills involve framing problems, executing, etc. Sure HTML5 is a skill, but only in the context of you learned X to help your team execute Y, or you learned X so you could communicate with an estranged team member on his terms.


  • ALWAYS have a thoughtful question for your interviewer. Interviewers know when you’re full of sh*t and haven’t prepped. Read the website. Do some googling. Don’t ask repeat questions. Get most of your questions answered before you walk in. If you’re any good at research and discovery, the more you uncover, the more questions you have.

Ask something that pertains to you/the school/your interviewer. For every student who thinks (he) can get away with winging the interview because (he’s) totally great in person . . . you see the other side weigh just how many jack-a** rookies they need to take in the class. You might get in, but it doesn’t mean they like you.

DBD folks.