February is here. Round 2 has passed. Now, MBA admissions teams gear up and get serious.
It’s interview time for business school applicants. Call it a rite of passage. Some candidates will get lucky. They might just skate by walking through resumes and trotting out talking points. In most cases, interviews are a means to flush out motivations That means applicants are defending their decisions and laying bare their faults.
THE UNDERLYING QUESTIONS
All the while, interviewers are asking themselves two questions:
1) Does the page truly reflect the person?
2) What does this person bring that we can’t find somewhere else?
New year. New priorities. New questions. Thanks to COVID, 2022 also brings an entirely new format. Forget the campus visit or coffee chat; many interviews will happen over Zoom or Skype. That distance makes it harder for read body language – and God help anyone who has a poor connection!
Beyond that, the admissions interview is a feeling out process. Conducted with an adcom, alum, or 2nd year, the interview – when done right – provides answers that separate applicants from each other. They reveal whether an applicant is serious and passionate. They illustrate how a candidate will contribute, whether they are a catalyst who’ll plan an event or a wunderkind whose insights and energy will elevate the class. Their etiquette will tip interviewers off to whether they are someone that classmates will invite to launch a venture or grab a beer. Of course, these interviews should always address the big question…
Just how bad does this person want to be here?
A SCHOOL-BY-SCHOOL LIST
Why here? Why now? Why an MBA? Those are the three big questions that applicants can expect in any interview. Basically – What’s your story? Where are you going and what do you value – and what do you do for fun too. Many questions posed will be straightforward and predictable. And then there are the ones no one expects – the behavioral questions that drag applicants back to their worst moments and the hypotheticals rife with cultural land mines.
Every school brings a different wrinkle. At Harvard Business School, interviewers love to probe candidates about company operations and industry trends, testing to see how connected they are with what’s happening around them. At Duke University’s Fuqua School, the questions boil down to leadership – how a candidate wields and accepts it – to see if someone is truly Team Fuqua material.
What can applicants expect from different MBA programs? Every year, Clear Admit publishes its MBA Interview Reports. Incentivized by a gift card, MBA applicants share the questions they were asked during the interview. Wondering what applicants can expect at Stanford, Booth, Columbia, or Sloan? Here is a sampling of questions asked at 18 top programs so applicants can prepare the most effective responses.
Think about an experience when you led a team and the situation become complicated or stressed, and morale was low, what did you do and what were the results?
Tell us a time when humility gave a positive result.
Tell us about a time when you argued with someone and you turned out to be in the wrong.
Tell us about a time when you collaborated with cross-functional teams and what was difficult about the process and what did you learn?
What is the biggest risk that you’ve taken?
Tell me about a time when someone has told you that you’re wrong and what did you do about that?
How did you become interested in [[insert field/career goal here?
How do you see yourself contributing to the culture here?
How do you think you’ve grown the most since you’ve been at your job?
What resources at Booth will help you achieve your post-MBA PM goal?
How did you motivate a team that was struggling?
Why did you want to start a company? What did you learn?
Talk about a time you had to handle a lot of different personalities.
Talk about a time you had to handle various timelines at the same time.
How you make a positive impact on Columbia’s campus?
What is your dream company and why?
Tell me what you would do the on the last week at work before you retire.
How do you incorporate diversity and diverse perspectives into a team setting?
Tell me about a time you had a conflict in a team.
What is your back-up plan if your goals don’t work?
What are the most important qualities or principles that you look for when working in a team?
If someone on your team isn’t pulling their weight, what would you do?
How did I handle a conflict situation at work when one of my colleagues didn’t agree with me?
What are important attributes of a leader?
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