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Business School B-School Interview Questions
The MBA Interview – Expect Behavioral Questions
MBA admissions committees typically weed out weak applicants and call the rest for an individual personal interview. You may have thought that interviews were all about getting factual information about you – they are not. Business schools interview you to gauge your personality.
It tests the interpersonal dynamics and rapport you create; the skill and maturity of your interaction; your honesty and openness; your confidence; your communication skills; your drive and purpose towards goals; and your knowledge of the school and passion for its program.
To do well in an interview, you need to respond well to behavioral questions. A factual question is, for example: “How many times have you been promoted in your job? A behavioral question would be: “How has moving up the corporate ladder changed your perspective on the workplace?”
In other words, behavioral questions delve behind the facts of your life to get to preferences and motivations. Other typical behavioral questions include: what it is about your career goals that motivates you? How does your leadership style reflect who you are? Do you think it is better to take risks or play safe? What is your preferred role in a group, and what does that say about you?
Be ready to talk specifics: know details about the school and its program. Have prepared examples and stories on possible major question topics: goals, leadership, achievements, strengths and weaknesses. Be ready for questions if your profile appears weak or trajectory unclear. Don’t be defensive about profile weaknesses. Admit them, state your planned remedy and move on.
If you don’t get a chance to ask questions naturally during the interview, you can expect to get a formal chance to ask questions at the end. Use your questions to sum up and refocus your interviewer on your strengths, goals and resonance with the program.
One of the hidden perils of interviewing is saying too little. Be ready to talk at length about where you are coming from, why you need an MBA now and what you plan to do with it. You need to breathe life into your candidacy through stories, observations and insights. Give enough detail and share enough passion to rouse the interviewer’s interest. Remember, creating a rapport is more important than any single thing you say.
Why an MBA? Why here?
One question you are sure to get is this one: “Why do you want to do an MBA at our business school at this point in your life?”
How you answer this question is crucial – there are various parts to think about, covering past, present and future.
What you want to do? (long term goal)
Why you need an MBA to do it?
Why now – at this juncture in your career?
What past experience will you take with you? (how will you build on your past?)
Why an MBA from this school particularly?
The interviewer is asking how your past connects to your future via business school. A versatile template would be to start with your goals on graduation and beyond. Say why an MBA is relevant to these goals, and why now. Bolster this with what in the past has led you to this point. Finish with the aspects of the target school that are relevant and attractive, given your goals.
Communicating your future aspirations is tricky; on the one hand you need to think big, but on the other you must demonstrate career-path realism. Concentrate on the aspirations that set you apart from the crowd. Have a single focus and show that you will do anything (legal) to realize your dream. If you don’t back yourself 100 percent then the admissions committee won’t either.