The Most Successful Wharton Grads

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MBA Interview Tips


The time is coming. In the next months, you will hopefully receive “the call.” They reviewed your application – and they want you to interview with them on campus.

It’s a positive sign, no doubt. But you’re not home free yet. Consider this a first meeting after you found a potential match on a dating site. Only here, the stakes couldn’t be higher. Sure, they want to “get to know you” and see if you’re a “fit.” But there is always the real question behind every seemingly-harmless query.

“Does he work well with others?” “Is he a leader or a follower?” “Will he raise the bar for his classmates?” “Will he make the school look good after he graduates?” That’s what every adcom is thinking. Fair or not, they’re comparing you against other candidates – present and past – to gauge your chances for making a real splash in the school.

Of course, it isn’t just the questions you need to prepare for. The environment also plays a factor. How should you adjust your approach in a group interview? What subtleties can impact your performance in an in-person, Skype, or phone interview? How can you appeal to adcoms, alumni, and students – who may bring different expectations to their interviews?

In a recent post, Admissionado, a leading admissions consulting firm, addressed these common questions (and many others). Here is some advice to help you increase your chances of being accepted:

How do I make the MBA interview more personal?

“…Wanna know a secret? The best interviews are the ones when you don’t say much. We know this is probably a shock, but it’s true. This guy you’re sitting across from doesn’t want to know how you solve problems at work. He wants to know if you’re cool and fun, and if he’d enjoy having a beer with you on campus, or working in a group with you for a business plan. He wants to LIKE you. And the way to make that happen is to have a conversation…How? Whenever possible, research your interviewer before you go in…use the things you know/have in common, and casually slip that into your interview to make it more conversational.”

Do I have to prepare differently if I have an adcom interviewer vs. a student?

“Overall, prepare the same way as it relates to your background and motivations. If it’s the adcom, you can expect questions that are directly related to what you wrote in your app. You can also focus on new programs/initiatives at the school that connect with your interests…If it’s a student, you can assume that they haven’t read your app, so you need to contextualize your answers more. The most important thing they’re thinking is “Would I want to be stuck on a boat with this guy?”

In its “Guide to the MBA Interview,” Admissionado also shared more broad advice. Notably, they encouraged applicants to share their “BEST stories” that they tailor to any interview questions. You will NEVER be stumped, because you have these great, cool, leadership-oriented stories ready to go. You will tweak them all by 15% or so, to answer whatever questions come your way.”

In addition, Admissionado counsels readers to have “backup plans” to show adcoms “that you are gonna succeed no matter what.” Here is an example for how to respond to an interviewer who wonders what would happen if you don’t land your dream job:

“Well, McKinsey’s ideal for this and that reason, but there are a bunch of excellent firms where i can get tremendous experience like x y and z. The important point is for me to xxx and yyy. If the job market is unseasonably bad, that’s okay; I can learn xxx by doing THIS instead. One way or another, I’ll keep myself on track to do XXX and YYY in a few years.”

In other words, “show them that you’ve thought everything through” and can easily pivot to other avenues.

To read additional interview advice, click on one of the Admissionado links below.

Sources: Admissionado (Interview Guide), Admissionado