MBA Interviews: The Latest Tricky Questions

It’s only an interview. You’ve done plenty before – and they worked out fine. This won’t be any different. Just be yourself.

That’s what you tell yourself. Deep inside, you carry a little doubt. Everyone does. Over-and-over, you’ve honed those anecdotes that illustrate your biggest selling points. Still, there is an element of unknown in any MBA interview. Sure, you’ve studied and assembled an imposing game plan. Still, there are always curveballs – those questions that knock you off script and expose your shortcomings. They may not cost you a spot, but they can give your interviewer second thoughts.


Every MBA applicant braces for the big three questions: Why an MBA, why here, and why now. Beyond achievements, career goals and strengths and weaknesses, schools are asking increasingly inventive questions to differentiate candidates. They are digging deeper to understand what they value and how they’ll act as much as what they know and where they’re going. These days, every seat is coveted – and every voice is measured. That’s why the questions behind every question are these: How well do you fit…and how much can you contribute?

Looking to gain an edge? Sometimes, it helps to know the questions ahead of time. In recent years, community sites such as GMATClub, BeatTheGMAT, and Clear Admit have helped to do just that. Dangling a $10 Amazon card as an incentive, Clear Admit asks MBA candidates to share information about their interview experience – including interview questions. Not surprisingly, each school offers its own cultural twist to the information gathered by adcoms, alumni, and students.

Wondering what should expect during your admissions interview? Here are the questions that defy the usual standards at the leading MBA programs.

Harvard Business School

Why did you go into X industry? Did you have a long-term plan for your career?

Knowing what you know from your current job, how would you do your first job differently?

If you had 6 months to do two very different things, what would you do?

What is one decision the leadership team at your current company should make?

What’s your 10-year vision for your career?

Tell me about this important extracurricular activity. What have you learned from it? How difficult is it to

balance with work? How has it impacted you? Will you stay involved if you attended business school?

Resume Follow Up: How was this initiative profitable? How much support/instruction did you have on this project?

Did you attend a class?

Did you have any internships while completing your undergraduate degree? Tell me about them.

What do you find most challenging about your current role?

Why did you get a dog?

For addition questions, click here

Stanford GSB

Experience in leading teams and working in groups.

International experience.

Time when I led a team in a difficult/challenging situation.

How would you handle a conflict amongst a team of MBA students?

Which defining principle do you most embody?

What accomplishment are you most proud of?

For addition questions, click here

Wharton School

Did your behavior reflect how you normally are? Did the discussion reflect your usual role on a team?

What is something that your group could have done better?

Is there anyone in the team-based discussion that you would not like to have on your team?

For addition questions, click on this link: Link

Northwestern (Kellogg)

What’s your philosophy on team work? What experience made you understand the importance of teamwork?

What do you do outside of work?

What is your leadership style?

Tell me about a time you were in a challenging situation.

What’s your biggest challenge as a leader?

What qualities would you bring to Kellogg to help the community?

Who inspires you?

Give me an example of you taking initiative and leading something. How did it go?

What was the last book you read?

Tell me about a time that you’ve had to deliver bad news or feedback to someone.

Tell me about a time when you’ve had bad news or feedback given to you.

For addition questions, click here

Go to next page to see question lists at the University of Chicago (Booth), MIT (Sloan), U.C.-Berkeley (Haas), Dartmouth (Tuck), Columbia Business School, and Michigan (Ross).

Questions about this article? Email us or leave a comment below.