MBA Application Interview

Your guide to acing an MBA interview

The average MBA interview lasts about 45 minutes. In those 45 minutes, you’ll need to convince the school that they were correct in showing interest in you and that you’ll be able to contribute something meaningful to the cohort that they’re designing for the next year. While the essays tend to be the part of the MBA application process that causes the most trouble for applicants, the interview tends to cause the most confusion as applicants struggle to know how to prepare. Over the years, we’ve developed some proven techniques to help applicants breeze through the interview for their top choice MBA program. Follow our Five Ps to guide you in acing your MBA interviews. PREPARE There’s no way around it. In order to have the answers you need on hand, you’ll need to prepare. Know your resume back and forth—this means you’ll also need to prepare anecdotes about times you’ve experienced failure, faced ethical dilemmas or received negative feedback. In addition, have a set of questions that you’d like to ask the interviewer. If you can work them into the interview, great. If not, then the interviewer will likely ask you at the end of the interview if there’s anything else you’d like to know about the program. You can ask your questions then. PRACTICE The anecdotes that you choose to prepare for the interview might sound great in your head or look good on paper, but you won’t know how they’re going to perform during the interview until you practice saying them aloud. You shouldn’t memorize your anecdotes or your responses to likely questions in the interview process—you’ll sound stilted and a little fake. However, you should have the basic storyline down pat and be able to...

3 interview questions every applicant to Columbia b-school must nail...

If you have your sights set on Columbia, it pays to be ready for the kinds of questions they’ll ask during the interview process. Columbia is unique among top business schools in that they don’t require an applicant to undergo an interview as a requirement for admission. However, being granted an interview can be a good sign in Columbia’s notoriously competitive process. Typically, between 5,500 and 7,000 applications to the business school are received each year. In 2010, for example, only 15% were accepted. So answering questions in the right way is key. Here are three sample interview questions from Columbia business school interviews — and tips on how to navigate each. 1. What kind of leader are you? Although this is an open-ended question, it’s best to respond with a concrete example. Giving a list of adjectives, such as “goal-oriented,” “collaborative” or “future-focused,” won’t set you apart from the crowd as much as a brief yet specific story that illustrates the kind of leader you are. Columbia is looking for high-impact leaders who seek out to achieve results — and who get them. However, the way you pursue those results is also important. The school wants students who can work well together on teams and who can leverage the best of what each person brings to the table; after all, these are skills that will serve well not only in the learning community but also in the business world beyond. Make sure to include results in your response. Since Columbia wants high-impact leaders, show how your efforts made a positive impact on a situation or group of people. A good response might include something like, “I am proud to report that we were able to raise $75,000 in...

3 tips for acing a Wharton MBA interview

Every year, top business schools receive thousands of applications for admission, but they only admit an average of 25% of those who apply. The story is no different at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, where approximately half of all applicants are interviewed, but less than one in 10 are ultimately granted admission — and no student is admitted without an interview. As a consultant who helps clients earn admission to top MBA programs, I know first-hand how important interviews are. They’re a key component of how the admissions committee gets a full picture of you as an applicant, and evaluates whether you’ll fit into the Wharton community. Here are three tips for ensuring your Wharton interview strategy shows your assets and skills off to their best advantage: 1. Be prepared for the team-based discussion. Wharton was among the first business schools in the US to implement a team-based discussion component as part of the interview process, in which five to six applicants discuss a topic while being observed by admissions committee members. This new aspect of the application is designed to get a sense of who you are outside of a well-written essay or even a well-rehearsed interview. Wharton is looking for team players and people who can be analytical while working well with others. Keep in mind that observers want to see candidates contributing without dominating the discussion; the idea is to see how you might engage in a productive conversation with a group of future classmates. To make a positive impression, be sure to share your point of view, but also listen thoughtfully; respect differing points of view; and bring others into the conversation. 2. Emphasize your experience as an innovator. Innovation is integral to Wharton’s...

Tips to Maximize Your MBA Application Feedback Session...

All MBA hopefuls fear getting denied, but if there’s any silver lining to rejection, it’s that many business schools now offer feedback sessions to help unsuccessful candidates figure out where they might have gone wrong. This availability of application feedback confirms that the schools really do welcome and encourage re-applicants, who often find success the second time around. In fact, in the past, the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School has shared with us anecdotally​ that applicants who reapplied often have a slight edge in the applicant pool. Find out the policy of your school of choice and get in touch with the admissions office right away, making it clear that you will use the feedback to reapply next year, if that’s the case. These meetings usually take place on a first-come, first-served basis in the spring, at the end of the admissions season. Due to the brevity of these sessions, it’s important to prepare in advance. Write down a few pointed questions that will help you make the most of your meeting. If you questioned anything during the application process, you now have the opportunity to clear things up. In order to gather actionable information, your questions should sound something like this: • Was there any concern about my quantitative abilities? If so, what can I do to demonstrate my capabilities? • Were my career goals clear? • Are my reasons for wanting an MBA sound? • What were some of the biggest weaknesses in my application? Do you have any suggestions for how I can ease your concerns in those areas? Have a plan to make sure the session stays on pace, because you’ll usually have a maximum of 15 minutes. Keep track of the time and strive...

20 interview questions Harvard asks MBA candidates...

Being among the small percentage of applicants admitted to the No. 1 business school in the world immediately puts you in some seriously good company. Of the nearly 10,000 applicants to Harvard Business School’s class of 2017, only 11% were admitted. What made them stand out? As with any interview or exam, preparation is key. And when applying to Harvard, it’s vital. Stacy Blackman, founder of Stacy Blackman Consulting, helps clients earn admission to top MBA programs. She has an undergraduate degree from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and an MBA from the Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University. Over the past decade, Blackman has studied successful Harvard interview transcripts. She put together an interview guide featuring sample questions, which are broken into three categories: past experiences, present attributes, and future goals. We’ve selected interview questions in each category from Blackman’s Harvard interview guide. Past experiences Your past experiences can tell a lot about how you’ve dealt with success and failure. When interviewing with Harvard, “expect to be asked a number of questions that will help interviewers gauge how life has tested you and how you responded to that test,” Blackman writes. Sample questions include: Why did you choose to work for your current company? Many people go straight from investment banking to a private equity firm. Why do you feel you need the MBA in between? Describe a situation where you successfully responded to change. Describe a time when you helped someone at work. Describe a mistake you’ve made within the past three years. Describe your greatest accomplishment. How would you describe your style for teaching peers? Tell me about a time you failed. The interviewer wants to know the rationale behind all...

Why the interview is the most important part of an MBA application...

Sitting across from one or two people knowing your future is on the line can be a nerve-racking experience. For those interested in earning an MBA at nearly all the business schools across Canada, an interview is a vital part of the selection process. “It terrifies people. The tone of the interview makes them feel pressure,” explains Shai Dubey, director of the MBA program at Queen’s University in Kingston. But it’s not meant to be that way. It’s supposed to be a part of the grander selection process to determine whether a prospect makes a good candidate for an MBA program. “It’s not an interview, really,” Prof. Dubey says. “It’s a conversation. If it is a conversation, then we’ve done a good job.” For many schools, the interview completes a prospect’s application – along with his or her transcript, graduate management admission test (GMAT) scores and usually a personal essay or résumé, and Prof. Dubey says it’s a crucial process. “When you think about getting a résumé from someone, it’s a high-level sketch that they want to tell you. Résumés are usually polished, while an interview is raw,” he says. “There’s no voice for them [résumés] – it’s black ink on white paper. We still don’t know the personality of that person. So the interview answers questions that you can’t find out about by looking at numbers.” The MBA interview isn’t meant to trick anyone, contrary to popular belief. A story from Business Insider reports that people who interviewed with Google were once asked, “Why are manhole covers round?” MBA hopefuls might think these are the kind of questions they’ll be greeted with, but it isn’t true. “There are a lot of behavioural questions that are asked – ‘Talk...

Top 5 Pieces of Advice for Aspiring MBAs from Harvard Business School’s Class of 2016...

Boston, being the center of higher education and innovation that it is, makes fall a season of anxiety for anyone applying to business school. Harvard Business School kicked off “invite season” on Wednesday at noon. And after pouring over almost 10,000 applications to parse out a meager 800 candidates to invite to campus, it’s no wonder people become so unpleasant to be around during this season. As the mad rush for a coveted seat as a member of the Class of 2017 has begun, The Harbus, Harvard Business School’s weekly student-run news group, spoke with the Class of 2016 for tips on how they prepared and what they did to stand out. Since every student walking Harvard Business School’s campus has had to sit down for a meeting, we have a hub of nearly 2,000 people that serve as walking masters of the interview. Here’s what they had to say: No. 1 Carve Out Enough Time to Prepare Receiving the invite to interview at Harvard Business School means it is time to pull out your application and resume you submitted last month and remind yourself of why you are so great. Above everything, you will have to express why you want an MBA and how the degree will help you. Being prepared is the ultimate — and most necessary — confidence booster. No. 2 Practice, Don’t Memorize Harvard Business School interviewers, and interviewers from any top business school really, are experts at what they do. They specialize in recognizing BS and can almost sniff out a person who is simply rehashing their answers. Become so comfortable with your story that it comes off authentically and genuinely. No. 3 Read, Read, Read You want to start reading all the major...