Five Tips to Prepare for your MBA Interviews

Congratulations! You put together a top-notch application, submitted your recommendation letters, attended virtual or in-person program events, and now you received THE call or email, informing you that you have been invited to interview for a spot in an MBA program. You now have the unique opportunity to share more about yourself and your story with the Admissions Committee, demonstrating why you are a superb fit for the program, as well as what you have accomplished thus far and how you plan to use an advanced business education to further your career. Celebrate this exciting news, and then read over our five tips to help you turn your interview into a seat at your dream MBA program.

1. Know Your Story. You might not realize it, but you probably already know roughly 80% of what you will be asked in an MBA program interview. Practice crafting your responses to the following questions:

  • Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

  • Why are you seeking an MBA?

  • Why do you want to attend our program?

  • What are your greatest accomplishments?

  • Can you tell us about a time you failed or would have done something differently?

  • How do you plan to use an MBA moving forward in your career?

Practice answering these questions in cohesive two-to-three-minute responses. Consider practicing in front of mirror or while you are recording yourself to get a sense of how you look and sound while responding. Engage in a mock interview with someone you trust, having them ask you questions and listen carefully to your answers, providing feedback on what works and what might be improved to ensure you are portraying yourself and your story in the most compelling light.

2. Prepare for THIS School. Every school wants to be loved, and business schools are no exception. It is crucial that you have specific reasons for why you wish to attend this program, and that you can explain succinctly and clearly why you want to be a part of this school, including how specific professors and clubs will help you attain your goals and how you plan to use the knowledge you gain to make a difference in your growing or established career.

If you speak in generalities, your interviewer will assume you do not truly want to be at the school since you did not take the time to do your research and understand what aspects of the program differentiate it from other business schools. Interviewers are seeking to establish a personal connection between you and their program, and it will be obvious if you did nothing more to prepare for your interview than scan the school's website. No MBA program wants to admit someone who is not passionate about attending, and you should treat each interview as an important event for which you are appropriately prepared.

3. Never Let Them See you Sweat. If you already know approximately 80% of the questions you will likely be asked in an interview, that still leaves a remaining 20% you will be unable to predict or prepare for. These questions may come across as random or completely unrelated to business school, but rest assured in most instances, it is not your specific answer the interviewer is concerned with…it is how you approach the question, how you handle being thrown a curveball, and how well you are able to think on your feet. Unexpected questions applicants have received include but are certainly not limited to:

  • What is the best book you have ever read?

  • What is one movie every person should see at least once?

  • If you were a dog, what breed would you be and why?

  • For a vacation, do you prefer the beach or the mountains? Why?

  • What do you hope people will say about you at your funeral?

It is incredibly important to remember that how you respond to an unexpected (or even potentially silly) question is just as important as what you say. If an answer does not immediately come to you, don't panic…ask for a moment to consider your response or restate the question in your own words to allow yourself additional time in formulating an answer. A thoughtful response given after a moment of consideration is far more impressive than a flippant response you ultimately have to go to great lengths to explain.

Find ways to tie in your past experiences to the questions you are asked but avoid bragging about accomplishments or taking sole credit for particular outcomes. Share credit with a team or colleagues, even though they are not present, and do not underestimate the well-placed and judicious use of self-deprecating humor. This is a chance for you to stand out and make an impression on your interviewer, ensuring you are offered a spot in the MBA program of your dreams.

4. Look the Part. A big part of being successful in an MBA interview is demonstrating a professional presence. Essentially, your interviewer is trying to determine whether or not you will successfully obtain a job upon graduating from the program, and while it might not necessarily be fair, it is also true that you rarely get a second chance to make a first impression.

Arrive at your interview with time to spare so you can double-check your appearance one final time. Wear clothes that are professional, feel good, and increase your self-confidence. Pay attention to the small, often overlooked details—shine your shoes, iron or dry clean your clothes, ensure your nails are trimmed, use cosmetics sparingly, and ensure there are no rips, tears, or missing buttons on anything you're wearing. Clothes do not need to be expensive or name-brand to look neat and polished, and you can remain true to yourself while also putting your best foot forward and giving your interviewer a sense of how you would ultimately represent their program.

5. Smile! The last piece of advice is the simplest…the most important thing you can wear to an interview is a smile. This is not an appointment for a root canal; this is an opportunity to express who you are and how you want to grow in your business knowledge and experience. Schools want to admit students who are eager and excited to be a part of the program, so allow your happiness over being granted an interview to show. MBA programs do not want students with an attitude that says they could take or leave being offered a seat in the incoming class, and they will be looking for ways to determine whether you are truly looking forward to joining their program and what sort of contributions you will make, both inside and outside the classroom. Enjoy the moment, be yourself, and let your enthusiasm and passion shine through, again demonstrating what an asset you would be to the program.

Prepare for your MBA Interviews

Image

You've been offered an interview to the MBA program of your dreams…now what? Celebrate your accomplishment, then read our five tips to help you prepare for your interview. Your confidence and preparation will impress your interviewer, bringing you one step closer to securing your spot in the program.

Steps All MBA Applicants Should Be Taking

Image

May is an important month in the MBA application process, and there are specific things you can do during this time as part of applying to business schools. Read on to learn the seven steps you can take now to best position yourself for future MBA success.

Tips for Business School Visits

Image

Are you planning a campus visit as part of applying to an MBA program? Campus visits are a great way to learn more about a business school, but it's important to do your research and plan ahead to maximize your trip. Read below for six helpful tips on getting the most out of a campus visit.