Updated: Apr 21, 2022
So you’ve made it to the next exciting step in the MBA application process: preparing for your MBA interview! By this point, you’ve already invested a lot of time thinking and writing about yourself, your target schools, and your goals in pursuing an MBA. Now, you get to share more about yourself with an admissions representative during the interview process. Here are Crimson’s top recommendations for what to expect, how to prepare, and ultimately how to ace your MBA interview.
What to Expect
It’s important to remember that every school’s interview process will look different. Interview types can range from remote calls to local interviews with school alumni to on-campus interviews.
For on-campus interviews in particular, schools will often offer a full day of programming, including information sessions with current students, mock classes, and other opportunities to learn about the school. Be sure to check the details shared by the schools where you’re interviewing to know what to expect, how long to plan to be on campus, and any additional materials to prepare for the day.
In the case of remote calls, your interviewer will schedule either a phone call or video call on a platform like Zoom or Google Hangouts. Plan to conduct the call from a quiet space where you’ll be able to focus on the conversation and avoid any background noise. If you’ll be participating in a video call, make sure that you’re in a well-lit space, your background is clean and free from distractions, and you’re dressed in your interview best. During the call, look into the webcam while you’re responding to make “eye contact” with the interviewer.
If you are interviewing with a school alumni, the interviewer will work off of a list of questions provided by the admissions office, sharing a summary of your responses and the conversation with the admissions team after the interview. You’ll also have the chance to learn more about the student experience at the school. If you know you’ll be interviewing with an alumni, prepare specific questions to ask your interviewer about their time as a student in the MBA program.
How to Prepare
Before every interview round, we recommend taking the 5 following steps to set yourself up for success:
Research the school’s interview process: As mentioned above, each school will have a different approach, not only to how the interview day looks, but what format the interview itself will take. Most schools will use either a behavioral interview, where you’ll respond to questions about yourself and your application, or a case interview format, where you’ll be presented with a business problem to solve during the interview. Case interviews will often be in a group setting to evaluate your teamwork along with your problem solving skills. Understanding what to expect during the interview is your first step to knowing how to prepare accordingly.
Review your application components: Once you’ve understood the format of the interview itself, it’s a good idea to review what you submitted in your application materials. It’s likely been a few weeks, if not months, since you looked at your application in detail, so refreshing yourself on your resume, essays, and other information will help you provide strong, specific answers to questions that come up during the interview. If you’re going into a case interview, don’t forget to review any materials they’ve provided in advance as well to help with working through the case.
Prepare STAR responses: Once you know what you want to highlight from your application, practice answering questions following a STAR response. STAR stands for Situation, Task, Action, and Result; essentially, when answering interview questions, you want to concisely summarize the situation, describe the task at hand, outline what actions you took, and always end with the result of those actions. By following this structure, your answers will be easy for the interviewer to follow while highlighting your specific capabilities. It’s helpful to practice a few STAR responses to get the balance of sharing enough information to answer the question without taking too long to answer.
Prepare thoughtful questions: Remember, the interview isn’t just for schools to learn about you - come prepared with your own questions for the interviewer! For question inspiration, look at the school’s website, student posts, and other information you’ve received during the application process. Use this time to get answers to the questions you have about the school, curriculum, extracurricular opportunities, industry connections, etc.
Set yourself up for success: Finally, don’t leave the little details for the last minute. Plan ahead by laying out a professional outfit you feel comfortable and confident in, getting plenty of sleep the night before, and preparing a good breakfast the morning of so you’re feeling like your best self on interview day.
During the interview
Any standard interview advice applies during MBA interviews: stay engaged throughout the interview, using not only your responses but also body language and eye contact to connect with your interviewer. Especially if you spent a lot of time preparing responses and information for the interview, remember to smile and be your genuine self - interviewers want to get to know you beyond your resume and essays, so this is the opportunity to highlight your personality and who you are beyond the application information.
Finally, if you’re attending a full interview day of programming, don’t forget that the whole visit matters, from the moment you arrive until you leave for the day. Be kind, courteous, and engaged throughout every activity and you’ll leave not only your interviewer but everyone you meet impressed.
After the interview
The first thing to do after your interview is send a thank you. If you had an in-person interview, you can even bring a handwritten thank you card and leave it with the interviewer or admissions office. Otherwise, send out a thank you email within 24 hours of the interview. Don’t forget to reach out to anyone you worked with closely throughout the day, not just the interviewer - they dedicated time to help show you more about their school and get to know you, so it’s important to thank them for their time and support.
Second, take plenty of notes for yourself, including who you talked to, what you discussed, and your overall impressions from the interview and any other school programming. Everything will feel fresh in the moment, but as time passes, you’ll want to have your own impressions handy to reflect back on for any follow up with the school as well as final decision time on where you want to attend.
Finally, don’t forget to celebrate! The MBA application process is a long journey, and the interviews can be particularly stressful. Take some time to congratulate yourself on making it through this important milestone before moving on to the next step.
Looking for more?
Reach out to Crimson's MBA advisors for application support and interview question preparation.