MBA Interview Prep 101: Common Questions, Preparation Techniques, School Specific Insights and More
Relieved that you’ve clicked submit on your Round 1 MBA applications? Congratulations! We know the hard work and late nights that go into crafting those essays and filling in seemingly endless application questions. After you’ve taken a moment to breathe, you may be turning your attention to the next step in the process, MBA interview prep. We’ve got you covered. This article will give you the lay of the MBA interview land, so to speak. Here’s what to expect from the MBA interview and how to prepare.
MBA Interview Formats
In general, MBA interviews are not formulaic. The focus can range from specific questions about your job responsibilities to broad discussions of life, or random questions about philosophies or current events. The uncertainty of this can be intimidating! At the end of the day, know that schools are just trying to size you up as a person and future professional on all your dimensions. Try to be your witty, charming, natural self.
MBA interviews are conducted by students, admissions personnel, and alumni. Don’t dismiss students as the lightweights; they follow a defined protocol and report back to the committee on specific criteria. Their insights and opinions are definitely valued by the admissions committee.
Many programs conduct a “blind” interview, which means that your interviewer has not seen your application and will only have reviewed your resume. During those interviews, it’s important that your story and goals align with what you wrote about in your application because inconsistencies will be obvious when the admissions committee reviews your interview feedback.
A few programs, like HBS, however, do not have a blind interview and your interviewer will have studied your file and prepared questions accordingly. In those interviews, it’s important to corroborate your written application but also bring new stories into the mix so that you don’t repeat content they already learned about in your essays and short answers.
Other programs, like Wharton, venture away from a one-on-one interview format altogether and offer a Team-Based Discussion, and others throw in curve ball questions like LBS’ case study. We recommend reading about each school’s interview format on their respective websites.
MBA Interview Preparation Techniques
As soon as you can schedule an interview, do so ASAP. Slots can fill up fast—even the first day! It does not matter if you interview early or wait until the end window. Select the date / time that works best for your schedule. Ideally, you will have about a week to prepare for your MBA interview. Preparation is the key to feeling comfortable and confident. Here is what to do:
- Prepare answers to the common questions shown below, particularly the first four on the list (you are virtually certain to be asked these). Practice OUT LOUD, with a partner or in front of a mirror.
- One valuable interview technique to practice is called the STAR method. The idea is that when you are asked a behavioral question (such as, tell me about a time you…), you frame your answer in terms of the following: Situation, Task, Action, Results. This will help you to stay on track and give a thorough answer that provides background, tells exactly what you did and ends with the critical results. To practice this technique, start by creating a spreadsheet with 8-10 stories. Categorize each story, so that it serves as an example of at least one situation, i.e., your leadership story, your failure story… Now you have a list of examples on your “mental shelf”. Practice telling your stories, using the STAR technique, OUT LOUD. When it comes time to interview, you will be able to pull stories off your shelf. You will be prepared with enough stories so that you do not need to repeat.
- Read interview reports on clearadmit.com. These are self-reported, so take them with a grain of salt, but they will give you a good sense of the interview questions applicants have been asked in the past.
- Schedule a mock interview with someone in your network that is familiar with the MBA interview process. Live practice with a little bit of pressure to perform is SO important to ensure you do your best on the big day.
Common MBA Interview Questions
Some frequently asked interview questions are listed below. You should have answers to most of these when you go into the interview.
- Walk me through your resume OR tell me about yourself.
- What are your short and long-term goals?
- Why business school?
- Why school x?
- Why now?
- Describe your leadership style.
- 3 strengths.
- 3 weaknesses.
- How would your friends or colleagues describe you?
- What is your greatest accomplishment?
- Describe a failure.
- Tell me about a time you convinced your boss or client of your idea / plan.
- What do you think you will contribute to the school?
- How would you like to get involved on campus?
- What makes you different from other applicants?
- Tell me about a time you overcame an obstacle.
- On the analytical – creative spectrum, where do you lie?
- How would you describe yourself?
- Who do you most admire?
- Do you have any questions for me?
We wish you the best of luck in your MBA interviews! If you need personalized coaching to prepare, feel free to reach out.
For further reading on interview preparation, here are a few articles you may find interesting: