How to prepare for an MBA interview?



An MBA interview is different from a job interview. In an MBA  interview, the admission committee is more interested in gauging whether you have certain traits that will help you gain the most out of their MBA program.

While they will probe you to get these traits out of you, it is very important to know what to write in your essay, resume, and application so that you don’t end up writing stuff that will convince them that you lack these traits.

Further, it is important to know what traits they are looking for so that you can focus on these while conversing with them. 

How to prepare for the MBA interview

In general, most  MBA interview panels are looking for certain traits like your ability to:

  • Cope up with their rigorous academic program 
  • Create an impact by executing innovative solutions 
  • Lead a team towards a common goal 
  • Foresee a vision that others have not been able to see 
  • Learn from your mistakes and adapt 

In order to gauge these traits, most good interviewers prefer selecting a part of your application they find most relevant to these traits (or asking you what area you find most comfortable with) and going deep into that part. This is a very effective approach as you usually cannot fake at multiple levels on the same point, and eventually, they will see through you. Hence, you should only write true and relevant information in your application that you can defend at all levels of probing. 

In this article, we’ll look at how important an MBA interview is and share essential MBA interview tips from experts to help you crack the interview and get a place in your dream MBA program.

Why are MBA interviews important?

MBA interviews are one of the most important factors in the business school admissions process. They provide an opportunity for applicants to showcase their personality and qualities that cannot be conveyed through test scores, transcripts, and other parts of the application.

Admissions committees use MBA interviews to assess an applicant’s fit with the school, their ability to communicate and think on their feet, and their potential to contribute to the MBA community.

Type of MBA interviews

MBA interviews can vary based on the business school, but most take 30-45 minutes. During that time, you may be asked various questions which would be mostly related to your application like  Why MBA, Why now, Why this school, etc.?

You would most probably also be asked about 1-2 instances from your essays/resume where the interviewers would be interested in gauging how you overcame the challenges, what are the personality traits you displayed in those instances, and what is the impact you created, etc.

The MBA interview format can vary based on the business school. Some schools may conduct video interviews, while others prefer traditional in-person sessions. To learn more about how your prospective institution has chosen its approach, look up its admissions website because every program operates differently.

These are the different types of MBA interviews:

  1. Face to face interview
  2. Virtual interview
  3. Behavioral interview
  4. Team-based interview
  5. Video interview

For example, The HBS admissions committee will spend 30 minutes interviewing you and looking over your application. They might ask you questions about what experiences have led you up until this point in time, and how they can help make sure that whatever comes next is even better. They also ask you to submit a post-interview reflection within 24 hours of interview completion.

Apart from these formats, business schools also have blind and non-blind interviews. In non-blind interviews, interviewers have studied your application before the interview, so you can expect questions specific to your profile. However, in a blind MBA interview, the interviewer may only know your basic details but is unaware of your larger profile. You might expect more behavioral questions here.

Top business schools’ interview formats

  • Harvard Business School and MIT Sloan are the only M7 business schools where the interviewer would have studied your entire application. 
  • Stanford GSB focuses on behavioral questions. They’d like to understand your past behavior to predict how well you’ll perform in their rigorous MBA program. 
  • Wharton and Michigan Ross conduct ‘Team-based MBA interviews. 
  • Kellogg, Yale, INSEAD, and London Business School ask you to submit a video essay apart from a traditional MBA interview. The video essay aims to see how well you convey your information with little or no preparation time.

Looking for expert help for MBA interviews?

At Admit Expert, we have helped hundreds of students get into top MBA programs around the world. We would be happy to help you too.
Schedule a free call with us today to learn more about our services and how we can help you achieve your goals.

Top 10 qualities MBA admissions committees are looking for

  1. Fit with the school: MBA applicants should research the school prior to the interview and be able to articulate why they are a good fit for the program.
  2. Ability to communicate: Your MBA interview is an opportunity to showcase your communication skills. Be crisp, clear, concise, and articulate when answering questions, and make sure to maintain moderate eye contact with the committee members.
  3. The ability to articulate your goals: Admissions committees want to know what you hope to gain from an MBA program and how your goals align with the school’s mission. Be prepared to discuss your long-term and short-term goals, and how an MBA will help you achieve them.
  4. Potential to contribute to the MBA community: MBA applicants should demonstrate that they will be active and engaged members of the MBA community, both inside and outside the classroom.
  5. Passion for business studies: MBA programs are looking for genuinely interested students in business who have a clear vision for their future. Be prepared to discuss your motivation for pursuing an MBA and what you hope to accomplish after graduation.
  6. Leadership potential: Many MBA programs place a strong emphasis on leadership and want to see evidence of your ability to lead in your interview. Be prepared to discuss a time when you took on a leadership role and what you learned from the experience.
  7. Business knowledge: Admissions committees want to see that you have a basic foundation in business concepts. Be prepared to discuss basic business terms and principles, as well as current business news and events related to your industry/function.
  8. Executive Presence: MBA applicants should be able to project confidence, composure, and authority. They should be able to take charge of the interview and keep the conversation on track.
  9. Analytical Skills: MBA applicants should be able to think critically and solve problems quickly. They should be able to provide concrete examples of how they have used data and analysis to make decisions in their personal or professional life.
  10. Strong recommendations: Letters of recommendation are one of the most compelling components of the application, and also the most unsettling for applicants since it’s the one aspect you cannot entirely control. Make sure your recommenders are close enough to provide specific and relevant examples of your work and, above all, make sure they share in your excitement about going to business school.

10 helpful MBA interview tips

  1. Do your homework: Make sure you understand the culture of the target school and can speak knowledgeably about why it’s the right fit for you. Research the school’s faculty, curriculum, and unique programs. Understand what makes the school’s graduates successful in their careers.
  2. Be Proactive: Proactively start preparing for the MBA interview once you’ve submitted your application. Do not wait till you get a communication from the business school regarding your candidacy.
  3. Practice, practice, practice: Interviewing is a skill that improves with practice. In addition to researching common MBA interview questions, find a friend or colleague who can role-play with you. Alternatively, sign up for an interview prep course.
  4. Be yourself: Admissions committees are looking for candidates who are genuine and authentic. Don’t try to be someone you’re not. Instead, focus on conveying your unique strengths and qualities in the most positive light possible.
  5. Tell stories: Use specific examples to illustrate your points. Stories that highlight your leadership potential, analytical skills, or ability to work effectively in teams will make a strong impression on the admissions committee.
  6. Be prepared to answer questions about your job: Be ready to discuss your current or most recent job in detail. Admissions committees want to know how you’ve performed in various work situations and what professional growth you’ve achieved over time.
  7. Be concise: Your answers should be crisp, clear, concise, and to the point. Avoid rambling or going off on tangents. Remember that the admissions committee has limited time to get to know you, so make the most of every opportunity to share information about yourself.
  8. Be honest: Admissions committees can spot a phony a mile away, so don’t try to BS your way through the interview. If you’re unsure how to answer a question, it’s better, to be honest, and say so than to make something up.
  9. Ask questions: Asking thoughtful questions shows that you’re genuinely interested in the school and that you’ve done your homework. It’s also an opportunity to gather important information that can help you decide which MBA program is right for you. However, please don’t waste ad com’s time by asking unnecessary questions. Ideally, ask 1 genuine query which is not too complex and might not take them too long to answer.
  10. Listen carefully: In addition to conveying information about yourself, the interview is also an opportunity to learn more about the target school. Pay close attention to what the interviewer says, and make sure you understand all of the information that’s being shared.

Looking for expert help for MBA interviews?

At Admit Expert, we have helped hundreds of students get into top MBA programs around the world. We would be happy to help you too.
Schedule a free call with us today to learn more about our services and how we can help you achieve your goals.

Most common MBA interview questions

There are some MBA interview questions that come up more frequently than others. 

Here are 14 of the most commonly asked MBA interview questions:

  1. Why do you want an MBA?
  2. Why now?
  3. What are your short-term and long-term career aspirations?
  4. What leadership experience do you have?
  5. Discuss a time when you faced a challenging situation at work. How did you handle it?
  6. Tell me about a time you had to give feedback to a colleague or subordinate. How did you handle it?
  7. Tell me about a time when you disagreed with your boss or another senior leader in your organization. How did you handle it?
  8. What are your strengths and weaknesses?
  9. Explain a difficult concept or problem that you had to explain to someone else. How did you go about it?
  10. Have you ever been in a situation where you didn’t have all the information you needed to make a decision? How did you handle it?
  11. What are some of the biggest challenges facing businesses today?
  12. How would you solve them?
  13. Which MBA program are you applying to and why?
  14. What can we expect from you if we admit you to our MBA program?

Final Words

The interview is one of the most important parts of the admissions process for business schools. It’s your chance to show the committee that you are a good fit for their business school and have what it takes to succeed in an MBA program. 

We hope this article will help you prepare for your interview and make a great impression on the MBA admissions team. 

But don’t forget – practice makes perfect! If you want more help preparing for your interview, our team at Admit Expert can help. Schedule a free strategy call today to get started on your journey to an acceptance letter from your dream business school.

Last but not the least, always remember that nothing in this world is perfect and the admission team understands this. Hence, it is very important to showcase that you have the ability to learn from your failures and adapt accordingly. This makes the MBA interview very competitive and that’s why MBA interview prep is very important.

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