How To Prepare for an MBA Interview
Aug. 26, 2022
You have submitted your application and now you have been invited to the MBA interview. In most cases, if you have been invited to an admissions interview, you have passed the broad admissions criteria – work experience, GPA and GMAT/GRE requirements. Now it is time to make your pitch and check for fit.
What should you expect from the MBA interview and what steps should you take to prepare for it?
1. Prepare for the venue
Hopefully the invitation came with some details about the interview format. Will it be in-person or virtual? Dress professionally and if in-person be sure to have a pen and pad with you, ideally in a professional looking padfolio to take notes. If the interview is virtual, besides dressing professionally, find a quiet room that can be staged with adequate lighting to show you at your best. If you are forced to interview from your bedroom, be sure to use the function to blur your background. You want the interviewer(s) focusing on you and not your high school debate trophies.
If you have the option, opt for an in-person interview. It is easier to connect with the interviewer(s) and to read the room. If you see that one of your answers has elicited a confused look or unanticipated pause, you have a chance to provide clarification or another example.
2. Know your audience
If possible, find out who will be conducting the interview. Common participants are faculty, students, alums and administrators. Each audience will have their drivers. Faculty will be looking for the most accomplished and engaged students. Students will be looking for those that will fit the culture of the student body. Alums wish to admit students that will excel in the program and professionally to bring prestige to the program. Administrators are looking for all these things – good students, community contributors and students driven to seek and gain an internship and ultimately employment. Keep this in mind as you field questions from each group and tailor your answers accordingly.
3. Practice your answers
Because every MBA interview is going to include versions of the following three questions be prepared to answer them clearly and tailored to the school you are hoping to attend.
- Why do you want to earn and MBA and why now?
- Why have you selected this school?
- What will you contribute to the MBA community?
The first question offers a chance to show that you have been self-reflective. You can showcase what you have accomplished and go on to discuss what is lacking. Ultimately, you’ll want to outline how an MBA can help you redirect your career. The second question will let you show that you have researched the school/program and can see how it will help you advance. Perhaps it is a dual degree that is offered that will help you gain the skills needed. Whatever attracted you to the school, this is the place to discuss it. Finally, the last question will let you make your pitch on why the school should want you. What will you contribute to make the program, or your classmates experience better?
4. Know what questions to ask
In every interview there comes a point where you are given a chance to ask questions. Be prepared to ask two to three thoughtful questions. You only have a short time to make an impression so don’t waste anyone’s time asking a question that can easily be found on the webpage. However, do ask questions that will give insight into what matters to you. If you are concerned if you are right for the program, you could ask “What are they looking for in the students that they admit?” If you are concerned about how challenging the program might be, you might ask a student “How many hours per week do you dedicate to studying?” Don’t forget to ask the most important question…What are the next steps?
5. Be sure to close
Once you have learned what the next steps are, and the interview is winding down it is a good time to close. Be sure to reiterate how you believe this is the ideal program for your academic and professional growth and how you feel you can contribute to the community. Thank the interviewers for their valuable time and let them know you look forward to a decision.
6. Send your thanks
After you have had a couple of hours to reflect on the interview send an email to each interviewer thanking them for their time and attention. Put into writing why this is the perfect program for you and how you hope to be able to contribute to the community.
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