Prepare for interviews using Vince’s mirror method

Use Vince's "Mirror Method" to practice your interview answers at home

  • Interviewing is physical
  • Do not prepare for interviews by writing outlines or scripts, or, worst of all, creating PowerPoint slides
  • Instead, talk ... to yourself

Background

  • Although I majored in History at Stanford, I took more acting classes than history classes
  • Patricia Ryan Madson was my acting professor (check out her bestselling book)
  • She taught me how to use the mirror to prepare for challenging roles
  • I have modified her method to help you pass your MBA admissions or job interviews

Supplies needed

  • note cards
  • a mirror
  • a timer set for 30 minutes (typical interview length)
  • a voice recorder (smart phone, computer, IC recorder: anything that will record your voice for playback and review)

Nine Mirror Method Steps Cover Ten Core Questions

plus a few questions you want to ask your interviewer (final Q&A)

A. Write these 10 core interview questions (plus final Q&A) on note cards

  1. Tell me about yourself / Walk me through your resume.
  2. What are your three greatest strengths and three greatest weaknesses?
  3. Provide me with an example showing your leadership.
  4. What role do you usually play in teams?
  5. Tell me about a time that you had to work on a team that did not get along.
  6. Tell me about a time when you failed. What did you learn from the experience?
  7. What are your goals? Why do you want an MBA now?
  8. Why do you want to attend (this school)? (e.g. Harvard, Stanford, Wharton, LBS, INSEAD, etc.)
  9. How will you contribute to our school community? (in classes, outside classes, as an alumnus)
  10. What else? Surprise me.
  11. Do you have any questions for me?


B. Write keywords or bullet points on the back of each card

Here are some hints and tips in case they help

1. SELF-INTRODUCTION

Walk me through your resume.

Sample answer

2. STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES

What are your three greatest strengths and three greatest weaknesses?

How does each strength / weakness affect your work?

How might each strength / weakness impact your performance at our school / program / organization?

Sample answer

7. GOALS / WHY MBA / WHY NOW

What are your goals? Why do you want an MBA now?

8. WHY THIS SCHOOL / THIS PROGRAM / THIS ORGANIZATION / THIS COMPANY?

Why do you want to attend (this school)? (e.g. Harvard, Stanford, Wharton, LBS, INSEAD, etc.)

9. POTENTIAL CONTRIBUTIONS

How will you contribute to our school community? (in classes, outside classes, as an alumnus)

11. Q and A

Do you have any questions for me?

(Vince hints: Be sure to customize questions depending on interviewer's status, i.e. current student, recent graduate, senior alumni member, staff member who attended the program, staff member hired from outside the school community)

C. Assemble the cards in random order (different every time)

D. Start the timer as you begin speaking

E. Ask and answer each question

F. Maintain eye contact (with yourself) as you talk (try not to look at your cards)

G. Ask yourself "why" and "how" whenever appropriate to simulate an interviewer's follow-up questions

H. Make each answer as direct and concise as possible (no more than two minutes per answer, hopefully less)

I. Listen to your answers in between self-study practice sessions to ensure continuous quality improvement

REPEAT STEPS

EVERY MORNING AND EVERY NIGHT UNTIL YOUR ACTUAL INTERVIEW

  • Shuffle your question cards every time you practice
  • Keep opening questions ("tell me about yourself" or "walk me through your resume") at the top of your stack and closing questions ("what else?" and Q&A) at the bottom
  • For all other questions, make sure to change the order every time
    • Reason 1: be prepared - you can never know in what order your interviewer will decide to ask her questions (interviewing is more art than science)
      • If you expect questions to follow a certain logical order, you might be surprised and unprepared if the interviewer follows her own logic and asks the questions in a different order than you expected
    • Reason 2: master your material - we build long-term memory through repetition in random order