As you may guess, the purpose of the MBA admissions interview is twofold: it gives the AdCom a chance to see a candidate’s personality, leadership qualities and motivation for pursuing an MBA, and it also lets applicants tell their own story beyond the essays and other materials in the application. Once you receive an interview invitation, your focus should be on preparation.
Research your target program thoroughly, which means tapping into all resources available to you, such as networking with alumni at admissions events or reaching out to current students. Try coming up with a list of questions and see how many of them you can answer after a simple search of the school’s website. If you can’t easily find an answer, that’s probably a good topic to discuss in your interview.
Many interviews will begin with some version of “Tell me about yourself” or “Walk me through your resume.” It can be hard to know where to begin with this. One approach is to simply ask, “Where would you like me to begin?” As an applicant, you shouldn’t be afraid to ask for further clarification, as this also makes the interview more of a conversation.
Remember that the interview is a dialog, often with someone who could soon be your peer. Don’t feel like you need to read their mind and immediately know what they are looking for. In general, you will begin this question with college and provide a brief chronology regarding decisions from there.
In addition to asking insightful questions, make sure you explain why the school you’re interviewing with is the best fit for you. What are the specific courses, programs, and professors that will help you reach your goals? It’s even better if you can highlight your need for academic offerings unique to this school.
Some applicants have reported being asked, “Tell me about yourself—not the resume stuff.” This is a different type of question, where you might start with where you grew up and provide more personal anecdotes about family and personal interests.
Schools are trying to create a well-rounded class of individuals. They want to know that you’re bringing personal interests to their campus that you’ll share with other classmates. So you should tell them about your recent scuba diving trip in Belize, your role as the food and wine connoisseur among friends, your love for historical fiction, your favorite college class in evolutionary biology, and your opinions on globalization.
Interviewers should be able to imagine you as the classmate who will organize trips, plan dinners, start a book club, etc. They don’t want to think that you are just about business and academics all of the time.
Alumni interviewers enjoy reminiscing about their experiences, and will especially like any questions about clubs or activities they were part of, while current students can provide a great perspective on what they wish they had known, or the most interesting aspect of their MBA experience.
As you prepare for your interview, one of the most important tips to remember is to sound natural—not scripted—during the exchange. Instead of trying to remember and include every last one of your memorized bullet points, focus on succinctly answering only the question at hand.
Wrap up the interview with a sincere thank you for the interviewer’s time, and remember to ask for a business card if you haven’t already received one. Send a thank-you note or email within the week, and try to include a memorable detail from your conversation to help the interviewer remember you as well as to reiterate your interest in attending the school.
The interaction in an MBA interview speaks volumes about what kind of teammate you will be when you are in the program, so make sure the right message is coming across loud and clear.