In order to get admitted to an MBA program, most business schools will require that candidates interview with an admissions officer, alum, or current student. The interview, which is often extended by invitation, is an opportunity for the school to get to know the person behind the two-dimensional application and probe further to understand why an applicant is seeking an MBA degree. Having worked with hundreds of candidates to help them gain admission to the top MBA programs of their choice, there are common interview mistakes that we see – these are laid out below.
Not spending sufficient time preparing
Interestingly, many candidates don’t spend enough time adequately preparing for interviews, thinking that they can “wing it.” While some people may get away with this, a majority won’t. Business school interviews require preparation – through practice, you will be able to iron out any kinks in your delivery and crystallize your thoughts as well as ensure that you are conveying responses in a concise and clear manner. You will also become more confident with respect to how to structure your answers and home in on key takeaways that should definitely come through in the interview. We recommend practicing with family members, friends, and even in front of a mirror.
Not providing enough color around post-MBA goals
Most business schools will ask candidates during an interview to state their post-MBA goals. Too many times, however, applicants just state their goals and stop there; in other words, they convey the “what” but not the “why.” To provide a more complete answer, give your interviewer more color around your post-MBA goals. For instance, think about what is motivating you to pursue those goals and why those goals are important to you and for society; help the interviewer to “connect the dots” in your story. Doing so will help to set you apart from other applicants.
Being generic and not answering questions with specificity
Specificity is extremely important in business school interviews, both when talking about the school as well as when elaborating on your qualities. As a result, it is extremely important to do your homework prior to the interview to make sure that you know those specifics – this can entail perusing school websites, visiting schools, attending information sessions, listening to webinars, and speaking with students/alumni. For the school, become familiar with the names of the classes, clubs, and resources that you are excited to avail of and be able to explain why. When it comes to your qualities, think of specific examples that demonstrate them – these examples can be both professional and extracurricular in nature.
Not being prepared to ask your interviewer questions
Many interviewers will give candidates the opportunity to ask questions at the end of the interview; therefore, make sure to prepare some thoughtful questions beforehand. A big mistake that we see is applicants telling the interviewer that they don’t have any questions; in doing so, you can come across as apathetic and indifferent. Interviewers want to see your enthusiasm for their school; by asking them questions, if given the opportunity, you will be viewed as someone who is excited about the program and curious to learn more.
Keep these common mistakes in mind as you prepare for your business school interviews. If we can help you with your preparation, feel free to reach out!
About Ivy Groupe:
Ivy Groupe is a boutique MBA admissions consulting company founded by Shaifali Aggarwal, who has been recognized as a top MBA admissions consultant by Business Insider and Poets & Quants. She received her MBA from Harvard Business School and undergraduate degree from Princeton University. Shaifali’s philosophy focuses on authenticity and storytelling to help clients craft compelling and differentiated applications that stand out. With this approach, Shaifali’s clients have gained admission to top-tier MBA programs such as Harvard, Stanford, Wharton, Kellogg, MIT, Columbia, Booth, Tuck, and Yale, among others.
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