What is Kira Talent? Kira Talent attempts to replicate a formal interview by asking you a question, giving you a short time to consider your response, and then recording your answer using the webcam and microphone of your computer.
Sometimes these questions are fixed, so all applicants are asked the same questions, in which case you’ll be able to find the questions online and can prepare accordingly. For other schools, the questions applicants are asked are randomly selected from a bank of possible questions. Sometimes it’s a mix of both. Some schools add a writing element, where you are asked to write a short essay answering an unknown question.
Oxford’s Said Business School asks a mix of defined questions (same for all applicants) and random questions, plus a short (5 minute) written essay too.
Why do schools use video interviews? Officially, the purpose of the Kira Talent section of the application process is to ‘get to know the applicant beyond the CV’.
Unofficially, the process also allows the admissions staff to filter out applicants who can’t write a few cohesive sentences on the spot, who can’t answer a question in a structured way and who cannot speak eloquently - for instance, are undermined by an impossibly thick accent.
How should I tackle it? Approach the Kira Talent interview in the same way you would approach another interview. Prepare your content but don’t regurgitate prepared answers word-for-word.
Broadly speaking, the verbal questions fit into one of two categories: Motivational and behavioural questions.
Motivational questions: Be ready to talk about your motivations. Since you’ve already been through a brainstorming process and written your essays, you already have this material to hand.
Remind yourself of why this business school and why now. Consider the electives, clubs and treks you wrote about in your essays. Recall the students, alumni and staff you’ve spoken to. Write a list of their names on a sheet of paper in front of you. This will be helpful when you’re under pressure!
Why an MBA now?
Why Oxford Saïd Business School?
Behavioural questions: Business schools assume that how you handled tough situations in the past is indicative of how you’ll handle them during the program, so they ask about these situations. Use this opportunity to demonstrate your maturity in dealing with people. Example questions include:
Discuss a time when you worked closely as part of a team. What challenges did you overcome?
Discuss what you would do if you and your teammates cannot come to an agreement on a project decision.
For behavioural questions, I advise clients to lay-out 5-6 stories on a sheet of paper in front of them. Use the SCAR format: Situation, Challenge, Action, Result. For each story, note the traits you demonstrated. Refer to these prepared stories to quickly formulate an eloquent answer.
Situation: I was captain of soccer team.
Challenge: Conflict between coach and player. Player refused to play, coach refused to back down
Action: I allowed some time, de-escalated the situation, chaired a meeting.
Result: Realised it was a matter of soothing both egos, finding common ground. Both wanted to win. Player returned.
Traits: Leadership, team, negotiation, people skills, communication...
Situation: Last-minute opportunity to land a new client
Challenge: Had to present to client CIO next day
Action: Pulled an all-nighter preparing a financial model and presentation
Result: Presented to the client in her office, secured a contract worth $2m.
Traits: Grit, determination, strength: financial modelling, communication
Written questions: Some schools, such as Oxford Said Business School, want to assess whether you’re able to write under pressure. They ask a single, slightly obscure question and allow the candidate 5 minutes to write a response. Take a second to consider your answer then aim to type 250 words in response. Example questions:
What was your favourite book as a child and why?
Apples are more versatile than bananas. Discuss.
Use a very simple structure such as:
Introduction, body, conclusion
Firstly, secondly, lastly
Dress as you would for a typical day in the office. Nothing exceptionally smart, just be comfortable. Gentlemen, no need for a tie. Match the trousers - interviewers have been known to ask applicants to stand up to check they're not wearing pyjamas! Present a tidy, professional background. Avoid any interruptions and position yourself to keep background noise to a minimum. For best light face a window.
Be sure to connect to a stable internet connection. I strongly recommend using an ethernet cable. Nowadays you can simply plug in the ethernet cable into your computer and into your router and most machines will connect automatically.
With clients, I simulate the Kira Talent interview process. I use a bank of real questions, combined with my own experience and feedback from past clients to replicate the process as closely as possible. Get in touch to prepare for your Kira Talent interview together.
I help determined applicants get admitted to top business schools. Get in touch if I can help you with your application. Book a chat here.