If you make it to the interview stage of an MBA application, the admissions team likely thinks that you might be a good fit for their university.
Your MBA interview is an opportunity to express your motivations and experience to an admissions team, who will be observing how well you communicate and how committed you are to studying your chosen programme.
Though they may not ask this directly, your interviewers will also be assessing how well you could work in a classroom environment and how you might fit into a balanced cohort that can offer a diverse perspective.
How much an MBA interview will count towards your application outcome depends on the business school you apply to, and every institution will have slightly different assessment criteria.
So how do you prepare for an MBA interview? What kinds of questions will you be asked in an MBA interview? What are MBA admissions teams looking for in an ideal candidate?
Below, MBA admissions experts share their top tips for applicants on how to ace an MBA interview.
Best universities for business degrees in the UK
Best universities for business degrees in Australia
Best universities for business degrees in the United States
Best universities for business degrees in Canada
How to start a business while at university: tips from the students who did it
What is the difference between an MBA and a specialised master’s in business?
Sandra Richez, director, EDHEC global MBA, EDHEC Business School
When I interview MBA candidates, I want to be able to understand an applicant’s motivation, capabilities and potential for getting everything they want out of an MBA. I’m looking for applicants who are self-aware, open and globally minded.
It’s vitally important to do your research in advance of the MBA interview. Be sure to carefully review the school’s website and its rankings. Take the time to review blog posts on the school’s website, and don’t forget to look at communication on LinkedIn, YouTube and other social media networks so that you can talk confidently about the programme and all that it offers.
In advance of an interview, I also strongly recommend reaching out to the school’s admissions team to ask any specific questions.
Admissions managers can often connect you with an alumnus who works in the same industry as you do so you can discuss the benefits of the programme with them and gain a deeper insight into the course and what strengths are worth highlighting in your interview.
Successful applicants will have shown growth and progression in their careers and have the potential and determination to continue growing in the future.
Select and prepare to speak about the best examples from your professional or personal life to highlight your unique skills and potential. The more specific you are, the more credible you are, and if you have supporting facts or figures to share, be sure to share them.
You should also be able to demonstrate that you’ve thought about how this specific MBA will advance your career.
You don’t need to know exactly what you want to do after the MBA, but you should know the skills you want to pick up and why, and in which direction you hope to point your post-MBA career.
Finally, I’d suggest practising for your interview as much as possible. Role-play with a trusted friend or colleague and get them to test you with questions to get you started. Ask for their honest feedback to help you improve and build your confidence.
Mark Thomas, associate dean and director of graduate programmes, Grenoble Ecole de Management
When it comes to MBA interviews, there is really no substitute for good preparation. Not only will it help you tackle the questions, but preparation will help you go into the interview feeling confident and clear-headed, which often makes all the difference.
With this in mind, here are a few typical MBA interview questions that you should be prepared to answer.
- Tell me a little bit about yourself
- Why do you want to do an MBA?
- Why are you interested in this school?
- Why should we admit you?
- Talk about your accomplishments as a leader
- What are your strengths and weaknesses?
The above questions are all quite common and you should go into your MBA interview ready to speak for a couple of minutes on each topic. I've found that passion is infectious whatever the subject, so do try to incorporate what you're passionate about into your answers.
As well as the MBA admissions team interviewing you, remember this is your chance to interview them. You will usually be invited to ask questions at the end of your interview.
Candidates should always have questions to ask at this point. In fact, you may well be judged more by the quality of your questions than by the answers you have given in the rest of the interview.
Thoughtful questions are a great way to demonstrate the level of preparation you have put into the application and help highlight your diligence, as well as your commitment to the specific programme you are interviewing for.
When it comes to professional scenarios and case studies, there is rarely one right answer to these kinds of questions. Instead, schools are looking more to discover the thought processes and methodologies of a candidate. A key bit of advice here is to listen carefully. That means really listening, not just waiting to have your turn to speak.
Ask for clarifications if you are not sure and don’t rush into an answer until you’ve thought things through. Then try to give answers that deal directly with the questions but also bring out some of your strong characteristics as a leader.
It’s also worth noting that some people choose to do an MBA because they feel a little frustrated professionally and have ambitions to get to a higher level. If this is you, you don’t need to shy away from sharing this as it can be a great way to show your determination, but be careful not to be overly critical of your current environment.
Similarly, it’s important to remain professional at all times. Sometimes interviewers will play devil’s advocate to test your critical-analysis skills. It is fine to disagree with the interviewer, providing that it is done in a diplomatic fashion and you can back up your answer.
Finally, try to avoid clichéd answers such as saying your biggest weakness is that you’re a perfectionist who works too hard. Admissions officers will have heard all these before and it’s much better to be original, honest and true to yourself.