According to Dr James Blackmore-Wright, Programme Director for our Online MSc International Management, if one positive thing has come out of the past year, it is raising the profile of distance learning.
But has this growth in popularity changed what programme leaders are looking for in their applicants?
Here, Dr Blackmore-Wright discusses the qualities that make the ideal candidate to the Online MSc International Management programme at the University of Birmingham, and what you need to do to impress in your admissions interview.
A lot as changed over the past year – has the current climate altered anything about Birmingham Business Schools’ admissions process?
“During the interview process, candidates can expect a more focused discussion on their motivations and desires, as well as their qualifications and skills.
The current climate has shone a spotlight on distance learning – which is great – but it is a very different way of learning to an on-campus course. You need to be resilient, have autonomy and be able to work in collaboration with others in the digital space.
From an admissions point of view, we want to understand what motivates students – can you do this course whilst balancing life and work?”
Have you seen a shift in applicants motivations during the pandemic?
“The current climate has been tough. Students feel they need to do something to gain the skills and knowledge they need to deal with this level of uncertainty and change in the workplace. Distance learning is a great way to build those essential skills.
I have also seen a change in the perception of distance learning. I think distance learning is getting recognition it hasn’t had before.
The University of Birmingham has been successfully delivering online courses for several years. Now, as a result of the pandemic, more people are open to embracing technology and collaborating online.”
How can students best prepare for their admissions interview?
“Students need to prepare for their interview as they would for any professional interview. However, you don’t need to come with all the answers; that’s what coming onto the course is for – expanding your learning.
What I like to see, is for students to come prepared with lots of questions so we can have a two-way discussion.
Distance learning requires a lot of investment from a masters candidate; it’s a lot of time and energy, it’s very challenging. Students need to know they have chosen the right place to study and that it’s a good fit for them.
It is a partnership approach – we, as a university, are working with people – we want to see who you are and what you’ll bring to the course.”
What should candidates keep in mind during the interview?
“Keep in mind it is a 50/50 interview – it’s not just us asking questions and waiting for an answer. A successful interview is about having a two-way understanding and making sure that by the time the session is finished, we both have all the information we need.”
Is there anything in particular that the candidate should speak about in their interview?
“I like to hear about lots of real-life examples, no matter how far a candidate is in their career. I like to learn about challenges they’ve faced or areas that drive their interest in the business environment. Where they’ve worked is important, but more important to me is how they’d like to develop.
As well as their own experience, candidates can talk about the great failures and successes they’ve heard of in business and their understanding of the business environment – being able to demonstrate that deep interest is important.”
What are the common mistakes you see amongst applicants during their admissions interview?
“One of the worst mistakes you can make is not preparing. If candidates are looking at the programme, there will be reasons why – they should be ready to share that. We want you to come to the interview ready to have an interesting discussion.
Another common mistake is not going into enough depth about their expectations of the course and practical experience they’ve had. We want to understand the learner behind the application form – so come ready to talk us through your thoughts and experiences.”
What is something that you would you like to see more often from your candidates?
“I like it when a candidate has really looked into the values and the focus of the institution and how they might compliment that. There are thousands of programmes out there – what people could do more often is look at the cultural fit and the objectives of the institution they’ve chosen and how they align to that. I think doing this helps to qualify how much thought the candidate has put into the process, which we then see reflected in their grades and success during the programme.”
And finally, what makes your ideal candidate for the Online MSc International Management programme?
“An ideal candidate is somebody who can articulate what they want from the programme and who has genuine, clear motivations.
For me, the top three qualities I like to see are the self-awareness to know why this is the best course for you, resilience to commit to the programme and evidence of critical thinking skills.
Distance learning is not for everybody, so articulating why this is the right time for you is key – in fact, this is more important than your background, because what we are really looking for is your ability to really engage and build a relationship with the programme. It’s not just a passive learning environment – that’s the most important thing to remember.”
An Online MSc International Management prepares students for the challenges of management in today’s competitive global business environment. For more information, please fill out our request for information form or contact a member of our Admissions Team on +44 (0)800 032 7101.