If you’re applying to business schools that make MBA interviews a core part of their admissions decision, preparing for these moments can feel overwhelming. Unlike in your personal statement, you don’t have full control of the situation during an MBA interview. You have to respond dynamically to another person while still making sure you convey your core strengths, aspirations, and selling points.
With the right kind of preparation and attitude, there’s no need to worry. Here are twelve tips for making sure that you nail your MBA interview.
#1. Be polite.
This falls into the “things you should’ve learned in grade school,” so why am I emphasizing it? Well, as someone who’s conducted a lot of interviews, you’d be shocked at the number of people who get this wrong.
If it’s an in-person interview, make sure that you’re friendly to the receptionist and thank them when you leave. People underestimate how valuable and respected support staff are in admissions offices, so if you’re rude to them, and they pass along “oh boy, Johnny was a pill!” you might’ve just sunk your application.
Make sure to remember names. If you’re in a group interview, respond to the person who actually asked you the question (so often male applicants instinctively turn to other men in the room, even if a woman asked the question… BAD IDEA!), and keep a friendly, professional tone throughout.
Check out: Should You Be Yourself in Your MBA Essays?
#2. Research the school and curriculum thoroughly.
It is critical to demonstrate your expertise of the institution and program to which you are applying. This displays your enthusiasm for and dedication to the program. Make a point of learning about the school's mission, beliefs, and curriculum, as well as its teachers and resources. BUT…
#3. Do NOT memorize your answers beforehand.
When you’re practicing for your interview, use Post-It notes or notecards to jot a few things that you want to talk about. But don’t write a script that you will memorize and deploy when asked about a particular topic.
There are lots of reasons for this. First, the last thing you want to do when you’re nervous is to have to turn your interview into a one-man-show. You’ll probably flub your lines, which might make you even more nervous. Instead, view the process as a conversation. Yes, a conversation that you’ve prepared for, thought about the likely questions, and set out a few key points to emphasize, but a conversation nonetheless. Be in the moment, focused on the question, and responsive to it. Don’t be a robot with canned answers.
#4. Practice answering typical interview questions.
MBA admissions interviews frequently involve questions on your career objectives, leadership experience, and program fit. To feel more secure and prepared, practice answering these sorts of questions with a friend or mentor. There are also forums and LinkedIn groups where people share common questions they’ve been asked by particular schools. Think about what your answers to those would be and practice them.
#5. Make a list of instances of your leadership experience.
Business schools frequently seek MBA applicants with good leadership qualities, so be prepared to provide concrete instances of occasions when you have assumed a leadership role or exhibited leadership potential.
#6. Highlight your accomplishments.
During your MBA interview, don't be scared to boast a little. If you don’t make a case for your admissions, nobody will! MBA admissions committees want to know what distinguishes you from other applicants, so emphasize your accomplishments and triumphs.
#7. Be genuine.
During your MBA admissions interview, it is critical to be honest and sincere. Admissions committees can sense when an applicant is faking it, pouring on the puffery, or being dishonest, so be yourself and let your personality show through.
#8. Be prepared to talk about your flaws… BUT DON’T HUMBLEBRAG!
MBA admissions committees frequently inquire about an applicant's flaws in order to better understand how they deal with problems and how they intend to improve. Be honest about your shortcomings and be prepared to share how you plan to fix them.
And when asked about your flaws, don’t deploy a self-compliment in disguise like, “sometimes I’m just too passionate” or “I care too much about others.” Those are transparently phony. You might as well say “I’m just too beautiful and smart” if you’re going to humblebrag! Instead, think about a genuine shortcoming that you have that you hope to work on, perhaps in the context of an MBA.
#9. Ask probing inquiries.
At the end of an interview, MBA admissions committees typically ask applicants if they have any questions. One of the most frequent complaints interviewers have is when the applicant says, “nope, I have no questions.” This is your chance to demonstrate your interest and involvement in the program. Make sure to ask pertinent questions regarding the school, program, or faculty.
#10. Dress professionally.
Making a good impression at your MBA admissions interview is vital, and one way to do so is to dress correctly. Wear professional apparel, such as a suit or business casual outfit. Similarly, if you’re doing a Zoom interview, take a moment to curate your background so that it’s neat and maybe shows a bit of your personality… without being too distracting.
#11. Care about all aspects of your communication.
Making eye contact, speaking clearly and simply, and utilizing appropriate body language are all examples of this.
#12. Following the interview, follow up.
Send a thank-you message to the interviewer after your MBA admissions interview. This is a courteous method to express your gratitude and can help you make an impression on the admissions committee.
About the author
Brian Fobi is the CEO of Gurufi – an admissions consultancy service that focuses exclusively on the writing portions of your application, helping you write powerful personal statements for graduate and business school. Gurufi was founded in 2008 by a group of Yale University entrepreneurs to help applicants improve their admissions writing by connecting them with expert editors. In the decade+ since, they have served over 9,500 clients with a satisfaction rate of over 99%.