In no uncertain terms, the Executive MBA application process is daunting.
Even for seasoned professionals with rock-solid track records, it is perfectly natural to feel nervous leading up to an EMBA admissions interview. After all, the stakes are often very high.
Nevertheless, the admissions interview is a vital part of the application process and doubles as a rich opportunity for introspection and self-reflection. It is a chance to inform the panel about who you are, why an EMBA is right for you, and why you are interested in HEC Paris.
If you’ve been invited for an admissions interview, or “jury”, you’ve already passed the first hurdle toward admission. You’re not in yet, but you can feel confident that your profile stands out in a competitive field of EMBA hopefuls.
Front and center among your interviewers are alumni of the HEC Paris EMBA. They understand precisely what you’re going through; after all, they were in your shoes not long ago.
The admission process is an opportunity for you to get to know one other. It will determine if the EMBA program makes sense for the candidate, and indeed to see if the candidate makes sense for the HEC Paris EMBA. Can they think on their feet? Does their variety of professional ambitions justify an EMBA? How would the candidate’s participation benefit the EMBA class as a whole?
This article will help you prepare for that. We want to give you the best chance of nailing your admissions interviews via insight, helpful hints, and advice from those who would know best—your HEC Paris admissions jury alumni panelists.
Tip 1: Be yourself
We ask various questions to learn more about who you are. Our goal is to make a connection with you and to feel that it would have been great to have you in our own cohort. Often we see candidates trying to provide the “right” answers to our questions; this often leads to people appearing superficial, not true to themselves, and at worst, dishonest. Remember, our goal is to learn more about you— we want to connect with your true self.
Every person is unique. So, be unique. Tell us something fun about yourself, whether that’s personal or professional.
Tip 2: Wave goodbye to your comfort zone
The admissions jury will get you out of your comfort zone, which is a good preview of what to expect out of the entire EMBA experience. Stay focused and try to relax. We are interested in finding out your capacity to think outside of the box and present your ideas clearly. If you happen to have a track record that is a bit out of the ordinary, please do share. Your experience as a human being will be a great asset to your colleagues potentially participating in the program. We are here to assess your capacity to share on a non-academic level as well.
Tip 3: Consider your presence
Although we don’t require you to wear a tie, a smart business style is usually a good idea. Think “executive”: dress up, not down. Your presence is also about your surroundings; choose a quiet spot where you can feel, move, and talk comfortably. If you’re doing a remote interview, have your items at hand and check your camera, microphone, and Internet connection before the call. It’s a good idea to have your phone around in case you’re experiencing last-second issues with your Internet connection or laptop.
Presence is also about managing your time. Your interview only lasts about one hour, so make sure you convey our talking points clearly and concisely.
Tip 4: Ask questions…
Show that you can listen actively, and don’t forget to ask questions of the panel! Remember, these are alumni who can share their own experiences that may be very helpful. Interviewers have been in your shoes before and have done this program. The interview is an opportunity for you to ask them any questions you may have in mind about the program, its organization, its workload, and so on. Feel free to ask anything!
It’s also great to prepare one or two open questions in order to create a dialogue and get a feeling of what the interaction with fellow colleagues would later be. After all, the EMBA experience is also about initiating and nurturing meaningful and passionate interactions with individuals in your cohort—and beyond.
Tip 5: …But don’t be offended by ours!
Don’t get defensive about our questions. Do not hesitate to put forward your ideas and develop them. We just want to know your take on the subject. There is no wrong answer, everything is complimentary as we do not have the same experience.
Tip 6: Be honest with us—and with yourself
I am always looking for the candidate who knows their goals and experience as well as their perceived strong or weak points in the interview that connects to this project and goal. Don’t be shy about showing any weak points or areas of development and how you think the EMBA could support that. This interview is not like a job interview; most EMBA candidates are going through a steep development curve anyway. The EMBA program is rather high level and very fast pace, covering all important aspects in very little time. Make sure that you choose the program that fits your learning style. Make your plans to manage the EMBA workload and finances clear— it takes a lot of energy and resources— and it is of mutual interest to avoid compromises.
According to the Financial Times, the HEC Paris has the best EMBA program in the world; click here to learn more. More CEOs of Fortune Global 500 companies have graduated from HEC Paris than any other university in Europe. Nearly 4,000 graduates are currently CEOs, CFOs, or have founded their own companies.
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If you’re ready to take the next step in your EMBA journey, we would be delighted to hear from you. Introduce yourself here.