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...

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...