An increasingly large number of MBA schools is using video as part of their admissions process. We believe that this trend will only accelerate.
That is driven in part by the logistical and health issues that COVID-19 has brought upon us and partly because it truly does give admissions departments a better, more rounded view of who the candidate really is. Some MBA admissions departments started using video almost a decade ago – and haven’t looked back. That gives us a good idea of how much value this relatively new assessment technique brings.
Types of interviews
“MBA video interview” is actually a catch all term for several different types of interview. To add to the confusion, admissions departments use different terms for the same thing.
Synchronous video interviews are when a actual, real person is on the other end of your Zoom or Skype call asking you the questions in real time and listening to your responses. Stanford GSB for example, uses these types of interviews on some of their programs even before COVID-19 hit.
Asynchronous video interviews are when you listen to a pre-recorded question. Then, you usually have a certain amount of time to prepare a response and then another pre-determined amount of time to respond. Kellogg is an example of a MBA program that has been using this video interview format for several years.
Video essays are when you receive a (usually) written prompt and have to respond to that prompt via video in your own time and generally with a lot more flexibility in how to respond. MIT Sloan is an example of an MBA program that has been using this video interview format for many years now and has even “exported” it to other business schools it has a relationship with, such as the Asia School of Business.
How to prepare for the video interview
Though the above video interview categories might seem very different, they are actually pretty similar when it comes to how to prepare for them.
Let’s break this down into two broad categories: how and what. “How” refers to your presentation skills. “What refers to the answer itself, the meaning of the words coming out of your mouth”.
You’re applying to a top flight MBA program – play the part.
Dress the part. That means your clothes should be business casual (at least the top half of your body!) and your personal grooming should be put together. Recording your videos while still in pajamas with bed hair probably won’t go down well with admissions.
Make and keep eye contact. This is especially true when recording for the asynchronous video interviews where there is no one on the other end of the camera as you are speaking. It is a very strange experience which feels very unnatural, which is why you have to practice quite a bit to get this part right. Use a tool like Voomer to get used to looking straight into the camera while speaking.
Vary the tone of your voice. That is important for two reasons: Firstly it helps to keep the person reviewing your answers engaged. Remember these people are reviewing multiple videos – and lets face it, they are humans too and get bored or zoned out. Secondly, varying your tone helps with adding emphasis to parts of your response that need emphasis. Perhaps a certain keyword you know admissions is looking for can be highlighted with a change in tone or pause. Voomer has tools to help you practice those two presentation skills.
Most of these types of interviews are what’s called “behavioral interviews”. The interviewer is trying to figure out how you react and respond under certain circumstances – a difficult teammate, falling sales numbers, etc.
There are two key things to the “what”: Firstly, keep your answers grounded in real life examples from your life and business experience – don’t come up with hypotheticals to say you “would” react in a certain way. Applications want to hear what really happened. Secondly, keep your answers formatted under the CAR method. CAR stands for Context, Action, Results. Essentially, what the situation was, what you did to resolve it and what were the results of that action.
I recently wrote another article that discusses in depth what a behavioral interview is and how to ace one here.
That helps the interviewer easily parse out the information they need for your reply and fill out the report they have to submit. Remember – you want to make their lives easier!
There is no easy solution – its practice, practice and more practice. That’s how you’ll get better at MBA video interviews. Though you can make things easier on yourself by using a MBA video interview prep solution like Voomer.
On Voomer, you’ll find questions that are specific to each program’s style (some drawn directly from question banks and current applicants) and AI-powered video assessments that help you improve your performance dramatically in the shortest amount of time possible.