Ace Your MBA Admissions Interview

mba admission interview

The Master of Business Administration (MBA) admission interview is a chance for adcoms to get to know the real you, the person behind the application materials. An interviewer’s role is to test, challenge and probe – and your job is to have strong answers at the ready, and come across as an eager, qualified, and informed candidate.

This is your final opportunity to convince the admissions committee that your candidacy is authentic, competitive and valuable. What do you need to do?

Let the admissions professionals at The MBA Exchange break it down for you. These MBA interview tips present you and your candidacy in the best possible light.

What is the MBA admissions interview?

It’s a fact about MBA admissions: only 40-60% of interviewees will be accepted. You’ve got to understand the beast before you can conquer it. Before asking how to prepare for MBA interviews, ask – what’s the point of MBA admission interviews?

You’ve researched questions like “what is the GMAT” and “GMAT vs. GRE,” polished your resume, submitted all your other application materials and reached an important milestone in your pursuit of a seat in an MBA program –  the admissions interview.

This is your last, most crucial chance to impress the MBA admissions committee and secure your place at the b-school of your dreams. It’s make or break time.

After the interview, there’s only background verification standing between you and MBA admissions success.

When should I start preparing for MBA interviews?

You want to take sufficient time on MBA interview preparation to get it right, but not so long that your responses to MBA interview questions start sounding rehearsed and lose life and immediacy. 2-3 weeks, with at least several extended prep sessions, is a good bet in terms of your timeline.

Be sure to stay aware of relevant MBA application deadlines! You could also be on a different calendar for deferred admission MBA programs.

Most programs require interviews, but some part-time MBA programs may not require interviews for admission.

How to prepare for MBA interviews

Your MBA interview preparation is going to depend on your own strengths and weaknesses as an off-the-cuff speaker. You might need to work on keeping on topic, or practice speaking up with confidence and clarity.

As a rule of thumb, we suggest taking a cold run at prepping for the most common MBA admission interview questions, then getting some feedback and start working on individual areas that need improvement.

Working with an experienced admissions consultant is a great way to get a clear view of your strengths and weaknesses as an interviewer, as well as proven strategies to improve targeted areas of your self-presentation.

MBA admission interview questions you need to ace

MBA admission interviews usually allocate about 30 minutes for each candidate. So, every word counts. Clarity starts with structure – each answer to MBA interview questions should have a beginning, middle and end. Take the time you need to collect your thoughts and ace your answer.

Planning ahead for key or common MBA interview questions lets you cut to the chase more quickly and smoothly. Here are some key MBA admission interview questions to prep for before you show up.

What are your career goals?

Adcoms want to see both ambition and an ability to make concrete, actionable plans from prospective accepted students. You should be able to talk about your career goals without sounding hazy, foggy or overconfident, or without giving an impression of aimlessness.

Why do you want to pursue an MBA?

Show that an MBA is an asset you understand and value by detailing the ways you see an MBA fitting into your career trajectory and personal goals.
And, if you’re pursuing an executive MBA (EMBA) instead of a traditional MBA, this is a great time to show your awareness of details about the program you’re targeting.

Walk me through your resume

Getting an invitation to expound on your experience is a great opportunity for you as a candidate. Be prepared to take full advantage of the chance to take your interviewer through your resume in greater depth, highlighting both what you’ve shown you can bring to the table and how an MBA could enhance your professional profile.

Tell us about a time you failed

This question is another blessing in disguise. It sounds like a bad thing to discuss past failures, but your interviewer wants to get to know the real you and assess how you could enrich the school’s community and fit into its culture. 

Avoid the temptation to be perfect. The adcom may interpret that as an attempt to hide character flaws or vulnerabilities. Arrogance, entitlement, and ego don’t work. 

Conversely, a bit of appropriate humor and self-deprecation convey the humility and confidence that business schools value. If you’re pursuing a long shot like an MBA with a 3.0 GPA, you need every boost you can get. 

MBA interview tips & tricks

Here are some helpful MBA interview tips and tricks, and advice on how to prepare for MBA interviews when you want to come out on top.

Don’t memorize answers

Interviewers take an active role in discussing your candidacy. So, don’t memorize answers to the questions you think they’re going to ask as part of your MBA interview preparation. Rather, build stories around your strengths that you can adapt to a wide range of questions. Instead of memorizing a script, practice using talking points so your responses are thoughtful and natural.

Be yourself (unless you’re a jerk…)

During MBA admission interviews, strive to present your best, most poised, authentic self – after all, that’s who the adcoms met and liked in your application! A good GMAT score only goes so far. Adcoms want to see the person behind the numbers.

Be specific, be prepared (and always be on time!)

Interviewers want to know that you will accept their offer of admission if one is extended to you. Be sure to include school-specific references in your interview responses. Consider how you’re going to align your candidacy with offerings like courses and clubs to show how their MBA program is the ideal fit for you.

Since interviews are not offered in-person these days, check your internet connection, computer camera, background and microphone at least a day before your scheduled interview. Ideally do a practice session with a trusted resource.
A professional admissions consultant at The MBA Exchange can provide you with additional interview strategies, tactics, tips and feedback. We’d be happy to speak with you about how we can help you ace your interview!

FAQ

Your MBA admissions interview is a key chance for you to make a personal impression on the admissions committee. Even for stellar applicants, the interview matters.

Usually a couple of weeks – don’t get antsy if you don’t hear back right away. Many programs specify the typical amount of time it takes for interviewees to hear back after their interviews.

Not necessarily – but all highly selective MBA programs do!