Every business school applicant frets over their application. It is a process they can control, however. Their GMATs and GPAs are testaments to sacrifice as much as smarts. Their essays are a reflection of steely discipline – a studied judgment that guides them on what to highlight and what to leave out. In essence, the MBA application is a life’s reckoning, a series of calculated risks that tiptoes the thin line between authenticity and restraint.
The goal, of course, is to land an interview. Conducted in-person or via Skype, applicants meet with adcoms, second-years, or alumni. Sure enough, it is often a one-shot, high stakes platform. While applicants are hoping to “click” and leave the right impression, gatekeepers bring a different agenda. They are seeking clues on whether the application fits the individual – and the individual fits the institution.
THE QUESTIONS YOU MIGHT NOT EXPECT
Every interview is bound to ask the big three: “Why an MBA”, Why here”, and “Why now”. Beyond that, culture comes into play – with every school adding their own spin to the proceedings. Harvard Business School, for one, is fond of delving into current events. Duke Fuqua will test a candidate’s commitment to team dynamics by posing various scenarios. The Wharton School even holds a 30-minute team-based project and then quizzes candidates individually on their performance. Then there’s Michigan Ross, which knocks candidates off stride by asking offbeat questions like “What can you teach me in 30 seconds.”
In any interview, the worst sin is to come off as scripted. The second worst, however, is to sputter through the Q&A. To help MBAs prepare for surprises, Clear Admit asks candidates to share their interview experience with various MBA programs. Luring readers with a $10 Amazon card, these interview reports de-mystify the process by including questions used by an individual school. The benefit: applicants can gather their thoughts ahead of time so their message is clear and congruent. Readers of two community forums–GMAT Club and Beat The GMAT–also share questions they received during round one interviews. Our collection of questions is culled from these sources as well as interview reports from applicants received by Poets&Quants and HBSGuru Founder Sandy Kreisberg.
Abraham Lincoln was fond of saying that if he was given six hours to chop down a tree, he’d spend the first four sharpening the ax. Looking to give yourself an edge when it comes time for your interview? Here are a school-by-school sampling of questions used over the past year to help you make the most of your meeting with decision-makers.
What is the strategic plan of your company?
Tell me the deal or project you are working on now.
Are you looking to start your own company vs. joining a well-established company?
What is one constructive feedback you received from your current boss?
Tell me about a time you led a team.
What news outside your industry do you follow?
How would you assess whether it is a good decision for the city to offer incentives for Amazon?
Looking at your experience with (Insert Role or Project). What was your involvement? How did you make decisions and work together as a team?
What made you go into your career field?
What made you choose where you went to college/what led you to your college?
What do you do in your current job?
What is a good piece of advice you have been given by a superior at work?
How do you put that advice into practice?
What is one of your current weaknesses?
What do you see yourself doing long-term post-MBA?
What do you see yourself doing in the short-term post-MBA?
What is a company/product you admire?
What type of industry/industries interest you?
What are some of the companies in that field and what are they working on?
How do you think that the company’s technology could be applied to a challenge facing the world?
What was the most challenging project you’ve worked on?
Talk about a time when you proposed an idea for a new project or piece of work – How did you make the case for it? Were you ultimately successful?
What is the most difficult project you’ve had at work?
Give me examples of how you have stepped outside my comfort zone.
Tell me about a time you faced a challenge at work and how you influenced the outcome.
Tell me about a time when you faced a roadblock in completing a project.
Tell me about a time when you dealt with someone who was difficult. How did you handle that situation?
Tell me about a time when you didn’t agree with an idea. How did you work to reach a resolution?
Tell me about a time you worked well within a team
Tell me about a time when you were effective on a team you were not in charge of.
Tell me about a leadership experience.
Tell me about a time when you led a team.
Describe a time when you lead a team and convinced someone to accept your ideas. Did anyone recognize your efforts?
Tell me about a time when you had to take authority of a team.
What is your leadership style?
Tell me about a time you stepped outside your typical role.
Tell me when you pursued an initiative beyond my job authority.
Tell me about a time you overstepped an authority.
Tell me when you saw an opportunity that others didn’t.
Tell me about a time when you failed to reach your goals.
Describe a situation when, while leading a team, you failed. How did you react? What did you learn from this?
Tell me about a time you faced a disappointment.
What do you like to do outside of work?
Tell me about a defining moment in your life.
Anything about yourself you wished you could change?
What’s your biggest accomplishment—both work and outside work?
What drives you?
How will you contribute to Wharton?
How do you think the team-based discussion went?
Is the role that you took in the team-based discussion the role you usually take within teams?
Tell me about your current work.
Wharton offer many resources. What one resource will I use if I were to pick only one?
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