When it comes to interviews, one of the most common mistakes MBA applicants make is to prepare for their MBA interview in the exact same way they prepare for a job interview. If you want to avoid an eye roll after you leave your school’s interview session and potentially being told “thanks but no thanks,” read on…
If you applied during round one, you are hopefully by now receiving interview invitations from some of your target schools. While preparing for this stage can certainly be a stressful time, most applicants find excitement and take comfort in being identified as someone the schools want to talk to. Some of the most common questions you will likely face will be about your strengths and weaknesses. Are you ready to answer them?
The most common interview question is often the interviewers opening line, so it almost seems like an ice-breaker instead of a serious interview question. While “Tell me about yourself,” sounds simple enough on the surface, the way you answer this seemingly innocuous question can make or break the rest of the interview---and possibly your chances of admission altogether.
This article is a bit of a repeat from one we wrote last year, but it's key this time of year, when it seems like every day a client is getting ready to take on an MBA interview.
This particular piece is about a harsh reality of that process, which is that every interview is going to take a dip, or hit a rough patch, at some point ... through no fault of anyone involved. Why is this? And how can you address it? Let's dive into it.
Pay particular attention to the question that some b-schools ask during the interview and/or on your application:
What Other Programs Are You Applying To?
Why would they ask this question? The reason is this:
- B-schools are keen to know who they are competing against. They want to know how applicants view the correlation between programs but also if you are using the school as a backup or safe school.
- Note that this question is pretty much asked by MBA programs who have been burned by their "yield" in year's past. That is, the admissions committee extends a lot of invites and only gets a handful of positive replies.
Let's use UCLA Anderson as an illustrative example ...
Time for another edition of Monday MBA Resource, where we share the things we are reading, watching, and listening to that might be helpful to people in the MBA community. Some are more focused on applicants, others are better for students, some for both - but all of them offer great insights that are worth soaking up. Three weeks ago we broke down the Knowledge @Wharton podcast and people seem to really be enjoying it. Two weeks ago it was one of my favorite articles in years: "Happy Ambition: Striving for Success, Avoiding Status Cocaine, and Prioritizing Happiness" by Ben Casnocha. Last week was The Charisma Myth by Olivia Fox. Let's hope we can keep it up with this next entry, which is this blog post:
Time for another edition of Monday MBA Resource, where we share the things we are reading, watching, and listening to that might be helpful to people in the MBA community. Some are more focused on applicants, others are better for students, some for both - but all of them offer great insights that are worth soaking up. Two weeks we broke down the Knowledge @Wharton podcast and people seem to really be enjoying it. Last week it was one of my favorite articles in years: "Happy Ambition: Striving for Success, Avoiding Status Cocaine, and Prioritizing Happiness" by Ben Casnocha. Let's hope we can keep it up with this next entry, which is the book:
Interview invites are starting to pour out and driving a lot of questions. The HBS three-wave process finally concluded and left a few people happy, a few people (deferred) confused, and a lot of people sad, given the sheer numbers at play. Less heralded, but still incredibly newsworthy, is the fact that Booth is already sending out interview invites as well. Given the school's meteoric and ongoing rise up all the rankings and its ability to elbow into the "best of the best" conversation, it's crucial to give the Booth questions that come up just as much airtime as mighty HBS. And today's question - and the most common question related to Booth interviews - is:
Should I interview with a second year student on campus or with an alumni member off campus?
This Wednesday (October 12) is one of those days on the calendar that tend to stop everyone in their tracks and dominate the headlines. Nevermind that the Duke Fuqua or Dartmouth Tuck deadlines are right around the corner - no, it's all about the final HBS Round 1 notification deadline. Interview or ding? Rather, interview or ding or deferral, as that appears to be a popular option this year as well. Let's make sense of things and offer some advice on how to respond from here. We'll group it result-by-result.
Today the MBA-journalism website Poets & Quants published an article that was more or less a summary of a recent blog post from Dee Leopold, the managing director of admissions and financial aid at HBS. In it, she tries to better articulate HBS' much-discussed new "post-interview" assignment. In a series of emphatic points, she takes great pains to tell applicants the following:
- This is meant to emulate the Real World (capitalizing these words was not our idea, by the way)
- Admissions consultants are NOT ALLOWED
All three of these points are sort of ridiculous and we will take them in the order presented above.
The row about Wharton's new behavioral interview questions is mostly bullshit.
- Tell me about a time when you worked in a group to complete a task, which required you to consider the opinions or feelings of others.
- This is what I tell my clients.
- This is a leadership question that asks you to detail a story.
- Story answers always follow this (trademarked) format - SCARA - Situation, Complication, Actions, Results, Applicability
- Hint: Leadership action means that you are leading other people - so you are in a team - being a good team leader requires considering and reconciling opposing opinions.
- Results are both quantitative and qualitative.
- See if you can take your answer and loop it back to the school.
- If you can't answer a question like this, with 3 to 4 examples, well then, we wouldn't have applied to Wharton ...
- Describe a time when you contributed to a team that didn't have a clear or appointed leader.
- This is what I tell my clients. See the above. Just tweak to cover a power vacuum where you stepped up.
- Every decent applicant should have an answer to this for every school. Think about it, chances are that you already answered this question (correctly) in your essays. It's not rocket science.
- Explain a time when your ideas were challenged, when you had to defend your opinion and/or approach.
- This is what I tell my clients. See question number one above.
- Mix this one up and provide an outside of work example - if you have not done so already.
- How would you describe your leadership style?
- Oh snap, this is basically question number 1.
- A good answer here means providing an example. The same example you could use for question number 1 above.
- The only tweak I would make is to use a Pyramid format, instead of SCARA format above.
- How would your colleagues describe you if you left the room?
- If you were the CEO of your company what would you do differently?
- Dizzamn, questions 2 and 3 here are remarkably similar to the "new" "behavioral" Wharton question 2 above. You can't fool me Wharton.
- For question 2 here - your colleagues would describe you as a leader who steps up to fill a power vacuum. Then they would provide an example - an example very, very similar to the one you would give in question 2 above.
- For question 3 here - you would talk about stepping up as a leader to make sure there was clear organization. Then you would provide an example - an example very, very similar to the one you would give in question 2 above.
- Please give me an example in which you exemplified leadership?
- Please describe a team situation that did not work?
- Questions 4 and 5 here can be answered by the example provided in question 3 above.