The art of excelling in your admissions interview
The admissions interview is a crucial step in the application process for any academic program. It’s the perfect opportunity for the admissions jury to get to know you better and assess your soft skills and for you to showcase your personality, motivations, and suitability for the program. But how can you increase your chances of success?
Understanding how the interview is structured and the expectations of the jury can help you prepare more effectively. At HEC Paris, the admissions interview for our Master’s programs lasts about 25 minutes and, in most cases, is run in an online format via Zoom. Depending on the Master, the jury is composed of 2 or 3 members, generally the Academic Director or a Professor from the program, an Alumni, or someone from the administrative team at HEC Paris. Several of our student ambassadors will also be there to welcome you in the Zoom Welcome Room to help you calm your nerves as well as ensuring that there are no technical issues and that you can begin the interview in optimal conditions.
The goal of the jury is to find out more about you and your career goals, your motivation for joining the program, and how you can contribute to the highly international and dynamic HEC Paris community. They not only want to assess if you are the right fit for the program, but to also determine if HEC Paris is the right fit for you.
Do your research and prepare carefully
Clearly demonstrating your knowledge of the structure, curriculum, faculty, and unique features of the program is one of the simplest ways to show your motivation and commitment and can set the tone for the entire interview. The jury will base some of the questions on your CV and the essays you submitted during the application process, so be coherent and consistent. For some of the Master’s programs you will be asked some technical questions, based on the courses you have studied, so brushing up on your technical knowledge is a key part of the preparation stage. We also recommend that you keep up to date with current world events before the interview.
Don’t hesitate to reach out to one of our student ambassadors. They have already successfully navigated the application process and are therefore best placed to understand the challenges, give you practical advice and help you approach the interview with confidence.
Honesty really is the best policy
If there is one golden rule during the interview, it’s to be yourself. The jury want to get to know the real you, so honesty always pays off. Don’t be afraid to say if you don’t understand a question or ask for clarification. It makes more sense to ask the interviewer to repeat than run the risk of not answering the question. For technical questions, don’t be afraid to say if you don’t know the answer and then add something like ‘but this is what I’m thinking’.
Don’t claim to be an expert in something like Game Theory if you’re not. The chances are that a member of the jury will have expert knowledge on the subject and will ask you probing follow-up questions. The jury will be assessing your communication and soft skills, so just being yourself is crucial.
Less can be more
Be authentic and concise. Avoid rambling and arriving at the interview with over prepared scripted responses. The jury will be assessing how you articulate your thoughts and will sense immediately if you’re expressing your own opinions or if you’re saying what you think they want to hear. If a member of the jury asks you to present yourself, don’t launch into a seven-minute opening pitch – stick to the essentials.
Demonstrating your personality, passions, and aspirations can help create a memorable impression, but always remember to align how you express yourself with the professional environment of the interview setting. Striking the right balance between, authenticity and concision will ensure that you come across as a well-rounded individual, capable of thriving in both academic and professional realms.
Highlight extracurricular, professional and voluntary activities
At HEC Paris, we firmly believe that community life is one of the cornerstones of any educational journey. There are over 100 clubs and associations on campus to choose from, so being able to discuss the ones that interest you and why, not only demonstrates your genuine interest in becoming part of this vibrant community, but also offers invaluable insights into your personality and passions.
You can also expect questions about any relevant professional or voluntary activities. These experiences can be the perfect way for you to convey your personal values and aspirations and enables the jury to find out more about the motivations that drive your choices and goals.
The admissions interview is a pivotal moment in the application process and is your opportunity to convince the jury that you are the right fit for the program and that HEC Paris is the right fit for you. By doing your research, being yourself and showcasing your motivation, you will significantly increase your chances of being admitted to the Master’s program of your choice and achieving your personal and professional aspirations.