UNC Kenan-Flagler MBA Blog

Understand the “Give and Take” of an Interview

September 23, 2010 By Lisa Beisser

We’re continuing to post some tips from MBA admissions interviewers.  So we’ll post several of these brief tips over the next couple of months.  Here’s our next tip in the series from one of our UNC Kenan-Flagler interviewers:

One thing that stands out for me is when candidates don’t pay attention to the nonverbal cues given during the interview and either give too much or too little information for certain questions.  I am always surprised when a candidate will give a one or two sentence answer in describing a project where they have had high impact.  Clearly, if I am asking a candidate to describe a project where they had a leadership role, I want to know enough about the project to get a sense of their accomplishment and I want to see a passion in their eye as they talk that tells me they have the capacity to be excited about their work and describe its meaning to me.  At the same time, there are other candidates who seem to forget that they are not driving the agenda and will go on and on about a particular project and don’t pick up the cue that I am ready to switch to a new topic of conversation. I think some people measure the success of the interview by how many minutes they can just talk in monologue.  I have seen a few people dig themselves into a big hole with this approach. 

Done correctly, an admissions interview flows like a well-orchestrated ballroom dance with a gentle flow of give and take between participants, no toes stepped on and no one running off doing their own personal break dance with no regard for the other partner.  These subtle interactions tell me more than anything a candidate could say about what kind of teammate they will be when they arrive in the MBA program.


  1. Ashley

    Thank you for sharing this tip. Insight such as this is extremely helpful for us applicants in better understanding how to tell our story and optimize our time during the interview. I look forward to reading more tips!

  2. Andrew

    The ballroom dance analogy is a great one. Thanks for the useful advice, Lisa.