Receiving an MBA interview invitation means the school believes in you and sees your potential. It also means your odds of admission have increased considerably, to about 1 in 2. Even if you’re a confident interviewer, your thoughtful preparation is essential to making a persuasive case for your candidacy and demonstrating your fit with Chicago Booth. The more you understand what to expect from Booth – and what Booth expects from you – the better.
As former Associate Dean of Chicago Booth, I can affirm that Booth prides itself on how it approaches business education differently. You’ll want to have a nuanced understanding that distinguishes a Booth MBA – from its philosophy of education to its discipline-based process and flexibility of curriculum – and look for ways to communicate this to your interviewer.
This year, for the first time, Booth is also asking interview candidates to submit a 60-second video supporting their candidacy. While solicited only from those invited to interview, Booth notes that the video is not provided to your interviewer nor related to your interview. (View my related article with tips for Booth’s new pre-interview video question).
What To Expect From Chicago Booth
Chicago Booth interviews are conducted blind, meaning your interviewer will have only reviewed your resume. The thinking is that this allows for conversation to flow more organically, as you and the interview get to know one another.
Chicago Booth taps its extensive network of current students and alumni to conduct admissions interviews throughout the year. As Fortuna’s Melissa Jones puts it, this is a signal the school values the perspective its community members can bring – both to you as a candidate and to the interview process itself. Although the interview receives equal weight in the overall application, regardless of who is conducting the interview, you should tailor your interview strategy accordingly. (See Melissa’s offers helpful insights & tips for preparing for alumni-led interviews.)
This year, of course, interviews will be conducted virtually due to COVID considerations. From proper lighting to flawless connectivity and excellent sound quality, you’ll want to ensure optimal conditions for conducting your MBA interview on video.
After the interview, the interviewer submits a report and your file goes through another phase of review, with another admissions team member who has not seen the file before. This person will then make a recommendation to admit, deny, or send the file to be reviewed. Final decisions (or close calls) are made by the admissions director.
Interview Format & Style: What Chicago Booth Is Looking For
The interview lasts around 30-45 minutes, during which the interviewer works from a list of questions addressing specific criteria. (That said, I’ve heard of interviews ranging to 90 minutes, but that’s more common in an office or café format versus virtual.) The flow is generally:
- Resume and work-related
- Specific behavioral examples/questions
- Personal fit-related
- Prompt to ask questions of the interviewer
Similar to the Stanford GSB interview, Booth favors behavioral style questions, operating from the conviction that past behavior is the best predictor of future performance. With these types of questions, your interviewer will be delving for very specific examples of what you did – along with why, what was going through your mind at the time, the impact on others, and the outcome.
Here’s a sampling of behavioral style questions reported by recent Booth candidates:
- Tell me about a time when you had to deal with a difficult situation during which you were unsuccessful. What did you learn from it?
- Tell me about a time when you thought that you should have made decision-X but didn’t.
- Tell me about a time when you worked at X and you tried to counteract the hierarchical structure there (with 2-3 follow-ups drilling down on specifics).
- What would you have done differently?
- Tell me about a time when you failed.
- Tell me about a time you had an unpopular idea.
- Tell me about a situation when you learned something from someone different from you.
Use the interview to highlight areas of your personal and professional life that are not already represented in your application. “Walk me through your resume” is a common opening question, however, be especially careful in responding; your interviewer has already seen your resume and is looking to glean more depth from you than a professional history timeline. Other common questions include the standard, ‘why Booth / why the MBA / why now?’ Remember that the purpose of the interview is to establish a connection with the person across the table (or the video channel), and to convince them of why you are a good “fit” with Chicago Booth.
Come Prepared With Thoughtful Questions For Your Interviewer
You’ll also want to be ready with meaningful questions to ask at the end of the interview. “This kind of thoughtful preparation demonstrates your genuine interest in learning more about mutual fit,” says Fortuna’s Malvina Miller Complainville. “If you know your interviewer’s name ahead of time, do your research – look him/her up on LinkedIn for example. Considering your interviewer’s profile will help you tailor your questions accordingly. For alumni, you have a valuable opportunity to learn from their experience and glean insights that can help inform your decision.”