Kellogg Interview: Format, Criteria + Sample Questions
Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management has created arguably the most collaborative culture of all the MBA programs. The single most important question your Kellogg interview must answer is whether you will fit in with the school’s team-oriented, “give more than you take” culture.
The full-time MBA program also stands out from other elite business schools in that it seeks to interview every applicant. It achieves this impressive feat by tapping into its global network of more than 65,000 alumni. Kellogg extends this unique opportunity to learn more about each candidate beyond what they see on paper.
If you’re preparing for your Kellogg interview, read on for SBC’s expert insider advice, culled from former Kellogg admissions officers Caryn and Beth, who are now on our SBC team. Both conducted Kellogg interviews and made candidate admit decisions across thousands of applicant cases.
Contact us today to request availability for interview prep with one of our Kellogg admissions experts.
Kellogg Interview Format
Kellogg interviewers are a mix of AdCom (Admissions Officers), students, and alumni. The interviewer does not read your application file and will see only your resume before the interview.
Interviews are a mix of resume review, career goals, “why an MBA?” components, and a behavioral question or two focused on teamwork and leadership. Career focus is key. Do the career goals make sense? Are they realistic and well-thought-out? Is the need for an MBA clear? These days, they often include a question that will touch on diversity.
“I would always ask a couple behaviorals around leadership, teamwork, dealing with difficult teammates, etc. Knowing and utilizing STAR is definitely the way to go,” shares former Kellogg AdCom Director Beth.
Fellow Kellogg expert Caryn agrees, saying that “the STAR method is still the gold standard for answering behavioral type questions.”
Several of our recent clients mentioned feeling like the vibe of Kellogg’s interviewers was more “business-like” than other schools. However, they did warm up and become more casual during the Q&A toward the end of the interview.
Interviews are consistently around 30+ minutes. It’s rare to spend an hour interviewing via Zoom. One of our former Kellogg admissions officers says, “For an admission officer interview, about 30 minutes is the norm, sometimes inching up to 40. I once did one in 20 minutes (the interviewee wasn’t talkative at all), but I always try to commit to 30 plus minutes… even if I was asking what color the sky was to keep up the conversation!”
Kellogg Interview Evaluation Criteria
We asked former Kellogg AdCom Director Beth about the evaluation criteria from the interview. Beth shared with us that interviewers provide detailed notes on a variety of stories and examples the applicant shares in the discussion. To conclude, the interviewer is asked to summarize their evaluation of the candidate on a scale with levels such as – Strongly Recommend, Slightly Favorable, Slightly Unfavorable, etc.
The Kellogg interview evaluation criteria encompasses the following categories.
Career Path and Career Plans
Tips: Merely demonstrating the ability to successfully perform the tasks associated with your position won’t suffice to get you into Kellogg. Instead, you will need to reveal to your interviewer that you have taken the initiative to solve problems at work, pursued leadership opportunities, advanced at a rapid rate, and so on.
You can also use career-related questions to discuss the steps you’ve taken to reach your larger career goals. Share your story when your interviewer asks questions about your career to date. Don’t just reiterate what’s already on the page.
Instead, craft a narrative highlighting which of your roles and responsibilities have prepared you for your larger career goals. Use this opportunity to explain how a Kellogg MBA will help you address specific gaps in your professional experience.
Tips: An impressive undergraduate GPA and high GMAT or GRE scores give the admissions committee an idea of your intellectual capacity. But they don’t tell the whole story.
Therefore, your interviewer will ask questions to examine your love of learning and creativity. Do you follow your passions, even if they may not help you get ahead in your career? Do you find a way to integrate what you learn from those passions into your professional and personal life?
Your interviewer will also ask questions designed to get the “inside story” on what has driven some of your big life decisions so far – another method of uncovering your passions and witnessing your intellect in action.
Communication and interpersonal skills
Tips: In any discussion of Kellogg’s MBA program, one of the first words you will hear is “teamwork.” So, it should come as no surprise that your interviewer will assess your interpersonal skills.
“People who work best in solo settings, owning just their own work, will not be comfortable in Kellogg’s highly collaborative atmosphere,” says SBC consultant Caryn.
Also, you’ll want to come prepared with stories of how you’ve managed conflict in group situations. Try to convey that you feel comfortable playing many roles in team settings: leader, collaborator, mediator.
Remember, whether you’re interviewing with a current student member of the admissions committee or with an alum, they will be thinking, “Would I want to work in a group with this person?”
Extracurricular involvement and leadership
Tips: Each of us forms a part of several communities—both inside and outside of work. Those who have a habit of leadership ask themselves, “How can I make this community stronger?”
In other words, they engage with the community and enlist others’ help, taking a leadership role to make a lasting impact. Consider examples from your experiences, and possibly draw on the leadership you’ve demonstrated in your extracurricular activities or volunteering. This can help reveal more of your passions and personality to your interviewer.
Tips: Your interviewer will want to understand which of your unique attributes will allow you to make a lasting impact on the Kellogg community. Let your enthusiasm for Kellogg shine through.
Listen to B-Schooled Podcast #86: Spotlight on Kellogg School of Management
If you could substitute the name of any other top business school with your answer, then it won’t convince your interviewer that you can impact Kellogg specifically. SBC consultant Caryn echoes this advice.
“Do your research! As Kellogg has two interview components (video and live), you have a tremendous opportunity to display your in-depth knowledge before the Kellogg admissions committee.”
Sample Interview Questions
Preparation is key to a successful Kellogg interview. Expect that the interviewer will ask you a high volume of very specific questions in an attempt to determine your fit with Kellogg. Make sure to have a number of detailed examples in mind.
So far this season, our clients have answered a sampling or combination of questions, such as:
- Why do you want to get an MBA?
- Why Kellogg?
- What are your short and long-term goals? How does Kellogg get you there?
- What do you foresee to be your biggest challenge in an MBA program?
- Walk me through your resume.
- Tell me about yourself.
- What is your favorite part of your current job?
- What was your biggest accomplishment in your current role?
- Walk me through a typical week in your role.
- Talk about a team situation where differences existed between team members.
- Tell me about a time you had to pick yourself back up.
- Tell me about a time you worked in a team with a group of people from diverse backgrounds. What challenges did you face? Share some of the rewarding aspects of the experience.
- What clubs/activities would you get involved in?
- In your last performance review, what were three positive pieces of feedback your manager gave you? And, what are two areas they want you to improve on?
- What is one weakness the AdCom might see in your application? What strengths would you most want to highlight?
- Is there anything we didn’t cover that you would want the AdCom to know about?
- Any questions for me?
Our SBC clients usually take one to two hours to prepare for their Kellogg interview. Contact us today to request availability for interview prep with one of our former Kellogg Admissions Officers. Availability varies depending on the stage of the season.
Stacy Blackman Consulting offers multiple services to meet your MBA application needs, from our All-In Partnership and Interview Prep to hourly help with essay editing, resume review, and much more! Contact us today for a free 15-minute advising session to talk strategy with a Principal SBC consultant.
Here’s a snapshot of the caliber of expertise on our SBC team.
Admissions Officer at Stanford's Graduate School of Business (GSB)
MBA, Stanford's Graduate School of Business (GSB)
Asst Director MBA Admissions
at Stanford's Graduate School of Business (GSB)
Director MBA Admissions
at Berkeley’s Haas School of Business
Admissions Officer at Stanford's Graduate School of Business (GSB)
MBA, Stanford's Graduate School of Business (GSB)
MBA, Stanford's Graduate School of Business (GSB)
Minority Admissions, the GSB
Diversity Programs, the GSB
Assistant Director MBA Admissions
at Columbia Business School (CBS)
M.S.Ed, Higher Education, U of Pennsylvania
Ashley is a former MBA Admissions Board Member for Harvard Business School (HBS), where she interviewed and evaluated thousands of business school applicants for over a six year tenure. Ashley holds an MBA from HBS. During her HBS years, Ashley was the Sports Editor for the Harbus and a member of the B-School Blades Ice Hockey Team. After HBS, she worked in Marketing at the Gillette Company on Male and Female shaving ...×
Kerry is a former member of the Admissions Board at Harvard Business School (HBS). During her 5+ year tenure at HBS, she read and evaluated hundreds of applications and interviewed MBA candidates from a wide range of backgrounds across the globe. She also led marketing and outreach efforts focused on increasing diversity and inclusion, ran the Summer Venture in Management Program (SVMP), and launched the 2+2 Program during her time in Admissions. Kerry holds a B.A. from Bates College and ...×
A former associate director of admissions at Harvard Business School, Pauline served on the HBS MBA Admissions Board full-time for four years. She evaluated and interviewed HBS applicants, both on-campus and globally. Pauline's career has included sales and marketing management roles with Coca-Cola, Gillette, Procter & Gamble, and IBM. For over 10 years, Pauline has expertly guided MBA applicants, and her clients h ...×
Geri is a former member of the Admissions Board at Harvard Business School (HBS). In her 7 year tenure in HBS Admissions, she read and evaluated hundreds of applications and interviewed MBA candidates from a diverse set of academic, geographic, and employment backgrounds. Geri also traveled globally representing the school at outreach events in order to raise awareness for women and international students. In additio ...×
Laura comes from the MBA Admissions Board at Harvard Business School (HBS) and is an HBS MBA alumnus. In her HBS Admissions role, she evaluated and interviewed hundreds of business school candidates, including internationals, women, military and other applicant pools, for five years. Prior to her time as a student at HBS, Laura began her career in advertising and marketing in Chicago at Leo Burnett where she worked on th ...×
Andrea served as the Associate Director of MBA Admissions at Harvard Business School (HBS) for over five years. In this role, she provided strategic direction for student yield-management activities and also served as a full member of the admissions committee. In 2007, Andrea launched the new 2+2 Program at Harvard Business School – a program targeted at college junior applicants to Harvard Business School. Andrea has also served as a Career Coach for Harvard Business School for both cu ...×
Jennifer served as Admissions Officer at the Stanford (GSB) for five years. She holds an MBA from Stanford (GSB) and a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Jennifer has over 15 years experience in guiding applicants through the increasingly competitive admissions process into top MBA programs. Having read thousands and thousands of essays and applications while at Stanford (GSB) Admiss ...×
Erin served in key roles in MBA Admissions--as Director at Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley and Assistant Director at Stanford's Graduate School of Business (GSB). Erin served on the admissions committee at each school and has read thousands of applications in her career. At Haas, she served for seven years in roles that encompassed evaluation, outreach, and diversity and inclusion. During her tenure in Admissions at GSB, she was responsible for candidate evaluation, applicant outreach, ...×
Susie comes from the Admissions Office of the Stanford Graduate School of Business where she reviewed and evaluated hundreds of prospective students’ applications. She holds an MBA from Stanford’s GSB and a BA from Stanford in Economics. Prior to advising MBA applicants, Susie held a variety of roles over a 15-year period in capital markets, finance, and real estate, including as partner in one of the nation’s most innovative finance and real estate investment organizations. In that r ...×
Dione holds an MBA degree from Stanford Business School (GSB) and a BA degree from Stanford University, where she double majored in Economics and Communication with concentrations in journalism and sociology. Dione has served as an Admissions reader and member of the Minority Admissions Advisory Committee at Stanford. Dione is an accomplished and respected advocate and thought leader on education and diversity. She is ...×
Anthony served as the Associate Director of MBA Admissions at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, where he dedicated over 10 years of expertise. During his time as a Wharton Admissions Officer, he read and reviewed thousands of applications and helped bring in a class of 800+ students a year. Anthony has traveled both domestically and internationally to recruit a ...×
Meghan served as the Associate Director of Admissions and Marketing at the Wharton MBA’s Lauder Institute, a joint degree program combining the Wharton MBA with an MA in International Studies. In her role on the Wharton MBA admissions committee, Meghan advised domestic and international applicants; conducted interviews and information sessions domestically and overseas in Asia, Central and South America, and Europe; and evaluated applicants for admission to the program. Meghan also managed ...×
Amy comes from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania where she was Associate Director. Amy devoted 12 years at the Wharton School, working closely with MBA students and supporting the admissions team. During her tenure at Wharton, Amy served as a trusted adviser to prospective applicants as well as admitted and matriculated students. She conducted admissions chats with applicants early in the admissions ...×
Ally brings six years of admissions experience to the SBC team, most recently as an Assistant Director of Admission for the full-time MBA program at Columbia Business School (CBS). During her time at Columbia, Ally was responsible for reviewing applications, planning recruitment events, and interviewing candidates for both the full-time MBA program and the Executive MBA program. She traveled both internationally and dome ...×
Erin has over seven years of experience working across major institutions, including University of Pennsylvania, Columbia Business School, and NYU's Stern School of Business. At Columbia Business School, Erin was an Assistant Director of Admissions where she evaluated applications for both the full time and executive MBA programs, sat on the admissions and merit scholarship committees and advised applicants on which program might be the best fit for them based on their work experience and pro ...×
Emma comes from the MBA Admissions Office at Columbia Business School (CBS), where she was Associate Director. Emma conducted dozens of interviews each cycle for the MBA and EMBA programs, as well as coordinating the alumni ambassador interview program. She read and evaluated hundreds of applications each cycle, delivered information sessions to audiences across the globe, and advised countless waitlisted applicants. ×