MBA Interview Prep: Tips and Advice
Updated: Aug 29, 2022
So you’ve aced your GMAT, you’ve crafted a compelling personal statement, and you’ve now received an invitation to an MBA interview. This is already a cause for celebration. Yet the interview can still be daunting, especially if you’re not familiar with the process.
The final round, the interview round, is the precursor to acceptance into the business school of your choice. You must impress the interviewers. Here are some MBA interview preparation tips and advice from our experts:
1. Prepare for Everything
You never know what you’re going to be asked, but you can prepare a set of responses to commonly asked questions. Practice your responses to these questions in advance, since there’s a good chance you will see more than a few of them across your interviews. To help you out, here are some common questions you might be asked:
Can you tell me more about yourself? (Hint: this is your elevator pitch!)
What have you learned from each job you’ve held? (Hint: tell a story!)
Why did you choose to apply to business school? (Hint: reference particularities of the school to demonstrate your research!)
What’s a time you faced an obstacle and overcame it? How did you do it? (Hint: show how you’ve personally grown from a failure or setback!)
What are your career goals and ambitions? (Hint: even if you don’t feel confident in your answer, pretend! Confidence in yourself will inspire your interviewer to be confident in your application.)
How would you describe yourself? (Hint: keep it brief, be humble.)
Why do you want to do this MBA? (Hint: research the school and be specific with your answer!)
How do you plan to use an MBA to support your career? (Hint: think of particular instances in which you know an MBA will be useful to you.)
Do you have any questions for me? (Hint: always always always have at least 2 questions for the interviewer.)
2. Structure Your Answers
Whatever question you’re answering, however you’re answering it, you need to have a structure. You want to answer the question in full, but you want your response to have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Divide the question into parts and then answer it with the objective, action, result, lesson learned, and future application. You don’t need to make up stories for the sake of filling time. Be crisp, short, and precise with your response.
Your aim should be to take no more than 2-3 minutes to answer a question. The more to-the-point you can be, the more impressed your interviewers will be. It’s always better to use fewer words to explain yourself.
3. Tune In and Listen
Listen carefully to the question. You want to make sure you’re responding to the exact prompt. It’s easy to get carried away in a story. It is completely alright to take a moment to prepare for a response, but listen to the question first and then answer it. It’s better to answer after or with little pause than to jump to conclusions and rapidly answer with an ultimately less satisfactory response. If you need a minute, ask for it - all you need to say is “Can I have a minute to think on that?” and of course they’ll say yes, but you shouldn’t take more than 30 seconds. Don’t panic. You’ve probably asked for a minute because you haven’t prepared for this question. This can be stressful! If you need to, take a deep breath and collect yourself before you answer. Once you have answered, always non–verbally check if your interviewer is keeping up with you. If not, do not hesitate to subtly ask, “does that make sense?” It’s always better to clarify than to gloss over a complicated topic.
4. Strike the Right Tone
You need to know how to hit the right tone. Do not give flippant responses. Do not lower your guard or inadvertently share doubts about yourself. Understand that humility will always work better than arrogance. Try to answer your questions candidly, and with honesty. Try sharing examples of times you exhibited character traits that you want the admissions committee to focus on. Keep the conversation professional, but friendly. It should be a normal conversation, instead of strict formal conversation. Do practice as many questions as you can, and plan time to practice well in advance so that you’re comfortable in the interview setting. The majority of questions will be common. If you can recruit a friend to conduct mock interviews with you, even better.
5. Keep a Window of Conversation
Your interview shouldn’t be a serious session. It should be conversational, where you are taking an equal part in the discussion, rather than being interrogated. If you don’t want an out-of-context question to be asked, then while answering a question, leave a window for the next question. For example, when you’re being asked about something, briefly explain it and refer it to another subject of your preference so that the next question will reference that. And remember, the interview is as much for you to get a sense of the program as it is for the program to get to know you. Ask clarifying questions when you think it would be useful, and make sure to ask questions to the interviewer at the end!
6. Dress Comfortably
Just because this is your day and you want to look presentable, you shouldn’t compromise your comfort. Dressing up professionally doesn’t mean wearing a tie, unless specified. You don’t need to dress up in fancy clothes, but you must be comfortable in your outfit. Your body language should be highly confident, and your clothes should give a good impression. You will always feel more confident when you are in comfortable clothes, and your admissions officers will be able to tell.
Wrapping up, to ace the interview, you must master these five important elements to ensure that you’re presenting the best version of you.