Congratulations! You've gotten an invitation to interview. While each school may have a different approach towards interviews (for instance, Wharton has had the group interview in recent years), there are some common elements that are the same across all business school interviews that you can prepare for.
Here are four key areas that you should be comfortable with before setting foot into an interview.
Know your story
This point may seem obvious, but interestingly, when I ask clients this question during mock interviews, I hear a lot of the what and less of the why. The what are the facts - what school you went to for college, what you studied, where you are working, what your post-MBA goals are, etc. The why provides the color and the context. The why should focus on the following questions: why did you decide to study [fill in the blank] in college and/or pursue your current career path? Why did you decide to join a particular company? Why are you interested in pursuing your post-MBA career goals? Remember, most interviews are not "blind;" in other words, your interviewer would have read your resume (which is often the case with most alumni interviewers) or would have read your entire application (which is often the case when interviewing with an Admissions Committee member). Therefore, your interviewers will be most interested in understanding your motivations and passions since they already know the facts.
Know the specifics of the school
Knowing why you want to go to business school is a given, but beyond that, it's extremely important to be able to convey why a particular school is appealing to you and why that school will prepare you to attain your post-MBA goals. This means being very specific. For instance, what particular classes are you interested in taking and why? Are there professors teaching at the school who are focusing on research topics that are especially pertinent to your post-MBA goals? What specific extracurricular activities and clubs do you want to participate in and why? In turn, how do you see yourself contributing to the school?
It's also really important to understand the culture of a school and why you'll be a good fit. To answer this, draw upon knowledge of the school that you have gained from visiting, attending information sessions, listening to webinars, and speaking with students/alumni.
Prepare for behaviorial questions
Most interviews will have a couple of behavioral questions, which are meant to assess how you act in different situations. By asking these questions, schools use your past as an indicator of how you will act in the future. These questions are usually in the form of "Tell me about a time when..." The key to acing these questions is by answering them with specific examples. So, for instance, if the question is about a time when you led a team, answer with a specific example that shows how you led a team. During mock interviews, clients often answer by generally talking about how they lead, which is not the right way to answer! Always have some specific examples in your back pocket (professional and extracurricular) that you can pull out to answer such questions.
Prepare questions to ask your interviewer
Finally, prepare two or three questions that you can ask your interviewer in case you are given the opportunity to do so. These should be thoughtful questions - not questions where you could easily find the responses on a school's website. Also keep your interviewer in mind as you prepare your questions; are you interviewing with an alum or with a member of the Admissions Committee? Questions about experiences at a school make sense to ask an alum, but not necessarily to an Admissions Committee member who did not attend the school as a student.
You've made the toughest cut by receiving an invitation to interview! By keeping these interview tips in mind as you prepare, you'll be much more confident on the actual day of the interview.
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Ivy Groupe is a boutique MBA admissions consulting company founded by Shaifali Aggarwal, who 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.
Click on the links to learn more about our company and how you can work with us to maximize your chances of gaining admission to the MBA programs of your choice.