Being invited for an MBA interview is great validation that the admissions committee is interested in you. For schools that offer open interviews, it’s your chance to persuade the school that you are a strong candidate. The stakes are high — and even the most prepared applicants can suffer from MBA interview nerves. If you find yourself overwhelmed, go back to the basics and focus on these threshold questions.
• Your goals
As with the written application, it’s critical to articulate your goals clearly and persuasively. It should also be second nature at this point — if it’s not, invest time practicing your explanation of your short and long-term goals.
• Why you need an MBA
You know that they are going to ask you why you want an MBA. This is a great opportunity to demonstrate self-awareness about your developmental needs, and to illustrate that the degree makes sense given your work history and future plans.
• Why their school
The key to answering this question well is preparation. Don’t talk generally about rankings or location — leverage your knowledge of specific courses and clubs, as well as aspects of the curriculum and culture that are an especially good fit for you.
• What you will contribute
Don’t forget to convey how much you will contribute, not just why the degree will enhance your trajectory. You want the interviewer to understand that you will be a positive addition to the community — so, again, get specific about how you see yourself contributing through extracurricular leadership positions and other initiatives.
• Review your application.
Even though most schools conduct “blind” interviews, where the interviewer only knows what’s on your resume, you should review your entire application. This will help you weave in those persuasive school specific details, and will also reinforce confidence in your ability to tell a compelling story.
• Plan the logistics ahead of time.
Think of your MBA interview like a very important flight that you don’t want to miss. Arrive early, and be sure you’ve handled details like your wardrobe well ahead of time.
• Pretend that you are the host.
Some people are great at putting other people at ease. If this sounds like you, pretend that it’s your job to make the interviewer feel comfortable. Sometimes flipping the script (in your mind) can help you relax.
• Have fun.
Ok, I know that this is easier said than done — but try to enjoy the experience. You are meeting interesting people, in a place that you are drawn to. You have worked hard for this opportunity. Giving yourself permission to relax and have fun can help you be more authentic.
• Don’t practice TOO much.
Which brings me to my last point. Definitely prepare, but don’t script answers or practice so much that you sound robotic. Think of this like tapering before a marathon — do something super relaxing the night before. Maybe even carbo load!
Karen Marks has more than 12 years of experience evaluating candidates for admission to Dartmouth College and to the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth. Since founding North Star Admissions Consulting in 2012, she has helped applicants gain admission to the nation’s top schools, including Stanford, Harvard, Yale, Wharton, MIT, Tuck, Columbia, Kellogg, Booth, Haas, Duke, Johnson, Ross, NYU, UNC, UCLA, Georgetown and more. Clients have been awarded more than $18.2 million in scholarships, and more than 96% have gotten into one of their top choice schools.