The MBA interview

An MBA interview means you’re one step away from getting a place at a business school. It means that the school liked your application and now wants to get to know you to see if your personality as well as your qualifications and skill sets are a good fit for the respective school.

Picture: Marion Wagner / pixelio

As you sometimes only have days from the invitation to an interview to the actual decision making day, it is good to have thought through your strategies for an interview well before. Usually the interview will be conducted by an admissions officer as well as an alumnus or a current second year MBA student. The schools usually set aside between 30 to 45 minutes per interview. MBA consultants Fortuna Admissions, a team made of former directors and associate directors from top schools in the U.S. and Europe, has assembled the top tips for a successful MBA interview:

  1. Prepare for personal questions

Think about how to answer all the personal questions that will be thrown at you about topics like your strengths and weaknesses, why you want an MBA from this school, what you can contribute to the school, and what your future career goals are. Tougher questions might be about a career decision, how you react to feedback, why you need an MBA, or what makes you stand out among other candidates.

  1. Practice with a friend

Your answers need to be natural, well-structured and confident. Particularly with alumni interviews, the person might not have read your entire application, so you need to summarize your experiences and accomplishments without learning your application essay by heart.

  1. Do your research

Try to find out more about the interviewers to connect better and find a common ground. LinkedIn is usually a good tool for that.

  1. Decide what to share upfront

Prepare four or five pieces of information that you want to share upfront without ignoring questions of course. But a proactive approach is preferable overall. Consistency between the written application and the oral interview is also important. If there are problem areas in your CV, give confident answers but don’t find excuses.

  1. Be concise

If you find yourself talking too long or diverting from the question, take a breath and try to wrap up your point.

  1. Ask your own questions

Find out more about the programme, such as details about particular clubs, study trips, or centres of research, but do avoid asking questions that have been answered on the school website already.

  1. Dress code and manners

The standard procedures are:

  • Business attire

  • Arrive ahead of time

  • Be polite and enthusiastic

  • Send a thank you note with a specific example of what you appreciated. (Harvard Business School applicants also need to submit a “post interview reflection” within 24 hours – a genuine reaction to the interview experience)


Barbara Barkhausen

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