MBA Interviews 101

Have you received the email yet?  You know, the one inviting you to come interview at your target MBA program?  It’s the best feeling ever, right?  Then the terror sinks in.

Up until now, applying to business schools has been a fairly introverted activity.  Sure, you have worked with your consultant and chatted with friends.  You may have even engaged with your target school via an on-campus interview.  But now that you have been invited to interview, it’s a whole new level of face-to-face interaction, one that requires you to be prepared. 

Every MBA interview is different, but in a way, they are also all the same: they want to get to know you.

Every school conducts interviews in their own proprietary way, but here are several key questions that you will undoubtedly need to practice no matter where you are interviewing:

 “Walk me through your resume”

is a classic opener where you will have an opportunity to highlight valuable experience that will be useful to your classmates.

“Tell me about yourself”

may or may not accompany the resume opener, but such a question is a chance to be personal—they want to know who you are—what makes you tick.  Make sure you tell them about personal things and not just professional things, and for goodness sake, show don’t tell.  In other words, convey your answer with stories or examples.

“How would your coworkers describe you?”

 is actually a way for schools to ask you about your strengths, so give them strengths which will be perceived as valuable both as a student and a professional.

“What is your biggest failure or greatest challenge”

is a classic designed to discover what you have learned and how it has enhanced your maturity level.  If you haven’t failed at anything, it’s likely you haven’t garnered enough experience to go to b-school.

“What constructive criticism have you received from your boss?”

is a way for them to subtly draw out your weaknesses, so give weaknesses which can be remedied by two years of business school, not personal or fatal personality flaws.

“How do you define a good leader?”

can be addressed by describing your personal leadership style. Alternatively, you can give examples from someone you admire.

“How do you define a good team member?”

allows you to provide specific examples of when you worked well on a team. As you probably know, business school will be mostly working with a team of some sort.  Thinking of a time when teamwork was better than doing it yourself is not a bad thing to ponder prior to interviewing.

 “Share an experience when you were out of your comfort zone”

will reveal how you hold up under pressure and make decisions without complete information.  Demonstrating this with stories from your career journey will help them see you have real potential.

“What was the most significant event that made you the way you are now”

gives insight into who you are as a person and what has made an indelible impact on your life. 

“Why an MBA? Why Now?”

can help differentiate yourself from other applicants by telling them your unique desires.

“How will you contribute to the class?”

will tell them what you bring to the table—specifically things your colleagues would specifically find useful.  Remember, most of your classmates will not be coming from your industry or job function, so skills which may seem mundane or common to you might be less so from a different perspective. Also be familiar with what you will contribute outside the classroom.  Knowing some specific clubs or extracurricular offerings of that particular school will demonstrate good due diligence skills.

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