Business School Interview Help

My interview invitations all rolled in within days of one another and I’m now having anxiety attacks over them.

Has anyone else had to deal with these? Tips, advice, or any fellow mba sufferers out there dealing with this now?

I’ve scoured out the top 30 questions from sites like and ClearAdmit-I guess I’m nervous because historically I haven’t been the greatest interviewer. Mainly because I LOATHE those typical HR questions-“your greatest weakness” etc. Also, I’ve heard that once you get the invite your chances of being admitted are about 50/50. I’m kind of at the point where I feel like I’m so close I can taste it-so I really don’t want to blow it.

FTR: I scheduled them all on-campus which means I’m flying out from my current home base (Los Angeles) to all over the country to do the interview/class visit/campus tour/lunch with students option. This was mainly to indicate my seriousness, as I’ve heard they appreciate the effort when prospective students make it.

your opinions would be appreciated

No opinion, just a wish of good luck. Stay calm and cool and you’ll knock them dead.

(I have an MBA, worked for a business school, sometimes lecture at a business school)

Here is what a typical full-time program is looking for:

  1. Will you make a lot of money at graduation, thereby increasing the school’s rankings?
  2. Will you make the classroom better by being there (bringing some real world experience into the room that will then by examined during the various courses).
  3. Will you play nicely with others - much of the work is group projects, often as a part of an assigned group.

Be aware that one of the biggest challenges is ensuring a graduate gets a job quickly. They want to know that you will interview well on your way out as well as on your way in.

Thank you so much! I really appreciate the insight. The schools in question are all in the top 5 in the US.

I’ve heard that some interviewers ask these crazy off-the-wall questions (based on last year’s interviewees at Questions along the lines of

  1. What do you hate about our school?

  2. What do you dislike about people?

  3. Complicated scenarios involving being stuck in the woods with you thinking that you know the campfire is one way but another kid is a survivalist and everyone else is undecided or how long it would take you to skate across the Wharton campus on rollerblades or some such thing.

What is the purpose of these questions (if we’re assuming the anonymous submissions aren’t lies). Is it just to throw you off-kilter? Test your on-the-spot thinking skills?

  1. Shows that you did your research.
  2. Back to that “plays nicely with others” issue. Also a check to see if you are management material.
  3. Sounds like some of the group projects that often occur during the first week. Do you trust authorities. Can you convince others of your knowledge. Will you try to encourage others to come with you?

Think about every question as a leadership and management test. How will you gather information, get others to support you, successfully lead, successfully listen, etc.

I like to have a pad of paper and take notes during the interview, then start listing of the solutions as I come to them.

Awesome-thanks for providing the framework. I will keep these in mind as I prep and go into the interviews.

Best of luck to you.

Unfortunately many on-campus interviews are conducted by student volunteers. If this is the case, keep in mind that there is no shortage of hubris among MBA students. Practice asking subtly flattering questions.

Also, go into your first interview recognizing that it will be a write-off. You will screw up, so relax and learn from it.

Good luck. :slight_smile:

Having an interview on Tuesday (found out today I was in, holy crap!) I can tell you a couple of things.

The school I applied to has a very low attrition rate. They want to make sure if they accept you that you won’t drop out. So they will see if you are a good fit.

They will try to scare you. It’s a very intense course, it starts out teaching at a graduate level (duh, but considering my program waives the core class requirement for business experience, it’s like taking Spanish IV when you haven’t had Spanish I), it’s a very painful way to advance your career, blah blah blah. I got the sense this was not only to make sure applicants understood the consequences of what they were getting into, but also to rattle the cages of those unsure about their decision, to shake them out.

Dress like you’re going to a job interview, don’t be afraid to take notes and ask questions. Funny enough, while I was waiting, I was flipping through a current issue of Business Week, where it had an article about how the economy has affected the applications to grad schools negatively. I was able to bring that up and ask about that article in the interview.

Oh, if anyone knows of any good sources for grad school scholarships, PM me, okay?

Good luck!


Heh. Thanks for the head’s up.

Unfortunately, my first interview is at a really, really, really well-known school. Now I feel like crap. Their interview deadline was significantly before all the other schools I have interviews at so I had no other option. Live and learn.

I guess I feel like if I don’t get in this year, I have a pretty good shot next year (esp. if I end up going to lobby week for my working paper)

All good advice so far - especially from Algher.

I went to Kellogg but interviewed with pretty much everybody (I applied to about 'leventy-twelve schools), then conducted interviews for Kellogg for about 5 years afterwards - and yes, was one of the hubristic types that **Iridescent Orb **mentioned.

There are no hard and fast rules that are different from any “high-powered job” type of interview. The bottom line I would stress is:

  • Think about what the B-Schools value - Algher’s list in Post #5 is a good start - stuff like:

> Knows the school
> Has delivered Results in their current line of work
> Can problem solve
> Can be a good team member and a good leader
> Has a sense for how they want to apply their MBA upon graduation…

You get the idea. Just make sure you have examples for each - kind of like writing a solid resume: you should be able to bullet out illustrative examples. It would be good if you can come up with examples where you changed a boss’s mind, etc., those are good, too…

Beyond that, it’s about fit and personality - I am sure you will shine there :wink:

Tons of luck!

Here’s my 2 cents:

The interview is not (usually) resume based. The interview is a way of finding out more about you as a person that was not in your application. Questions will most likely be about professional experiences, how you reacted to them, your personal and professional goals, reasons for choosing this specific school, plans for getting involved at the school, plans after you graduate, etc. One of the traits that business schools look for is leadership potential and/or skills, and how you demonstrated that in your professional career. There is also a focus on soft-skills and communication, and you might get questions that present you with a certain scenario and ask you how you’d react in the given scenario, or be asked to relate a scenario based on a specific problem type in your professional experience.

Just be yourself. Be honest. Be sincere. Don’t be afraid to share your weaknesses, but do show how your strengths will help you and the other students enrich their MBA experience. Have a clear understanding of why you want to pursue an MBA, why you want to attend this specific school, what you want to do at the school, what you plan to do after your MBA and what steps you have taken to prepare for those goals.

Remember that if you’ve received an interview invitation it means they already find something they like about you, so don’t be too nervous.

From experience, your chances are not 50/50 in an interview. Business schools interview well over twice as many candidates as they admit, especially in this economy where the average increase in the applicant pool has been about 15-20% year-on-year last year and schools can be, and are, more selective than they have been in the past.

Your decision to go in-person for an interview is an excellent one. It will work in your favor, especially if you’ve come from out of town. I cannot stress enough on the importance of this to candidates applying to business schools. Ask for a campus tour on the day of your interview, if this is offered. And, as others have mentioned, research the school in-depth before going there. If possible, email current students or alumni in advance of your interview with specific and relevant questions about life at school. Most schools will have student representatives or at least contact information listed on their site. Touch upon insight gained through your interactions with current students in your interview, where relevant. As WordMan mentions, they are looking for culture (personality) and fit, and if you haven’t spoken to current students you might not have the insight required to demonstrate your understanding of the culture at school and how you are a fit. All business school websites say pretty much the same thing - “collaborative, team oriented, blah blah”, so just regurgitating what you read on the website won’t give you the insight that you, and they, are looking for. It’s the students that set the culture apart, and know it best.

Oh and one more thing - if, in the interview, you notice your interviewer furiously scribbling on a piece of paper, do not get alarmed. This is normal. They are just taking detailed notes, for future reference and comparison against the candidate pool.

Dress business formal.

Follow up with a thank you note after your interview.

The first two questions are to gauge how you react to “organizational behavior” type scenarios, and to see if you have tact in answering these questions in a professional manner without being “oh i love everything and everybody”. Address the issue, not the people or school. For example, you could talk about something that is missing that you’d like to see at the school, and then add how, if admitted, you would work towards filling that gap.

Question 3 is to see how you approach a problem, given incomplete information. If there’s one thing that business schools teach, it is this - how to make decisions based on incomplete information. It also tests your approach to leadership. How would you take control of this situation? Would you attempt to reach consensus, bark orders, go alone, etc. What motivation or inspiration would you offer to the rest of the camp that is undecided, and probably frantic at this point? Basically, it is demonstrating an understanding of leadership skills.

MBA and manager level management consultant in the Big-4 in Manhattan here (which I guess makes me "Mr Management).
Clearly there are no right or wrong answers to these seemingly ridiculous behavioral questions. What the interviewer is looking for is more how you respond than what you actually say:

  • Are you professional?
  • Do you demonstrate tact and political aptitude?
  • Are you demonstrating values consistant with the schools?

I’ve seen a number of people on this board say things like “if someone ever asked me a question like that in an interview, I would laugh and say [insert stupid comment].” Well guess what dumbass? You just failed the interview. I guess you showed them. Examples of answers for these types of questions:

*1) What do you hate about our school? *

I don’t hate anything about this school. However, if I were to pick something I would like to improve about this school, I would like to see more diversity.
*2) What do you dislike about people? *
I am generally disappointed when people show that they do not care about the work they do. I have always been a hard worker and I tend to enjoy being around others who are like me so we can push each other. As a manager, I realize my job is to help others find a similar motivation (and so on )

*3) Complicated scenarios involving being stuck in the woods with you thinking that you know the campfire is one way but another kid is a survivalist and everyone else is undecided or how long it would take you to skate across the Wharton campus on rollerblades or some such thing. *

I call these “how many golfballs can you fit in a 747?” questions. Basically the purpose is to see how well you can break down a problem into its component parts and come up with a logical way to approach a solution.

Thanks guys. You’ve all been so helpful and I really appreciate it-I think from the responses here you’ve all given me a good framework for how to approach their questions so the tough part will just be conquering the anxiety and trying not to look too desperate or rehearsed. The one that stumped me the most was the “what do you hate about our school” question but I think xash and msmith have pointed out how to attack those types of questions.

Just for the record though-one school sent me very specific instructions on how the interview is conducted. The person who interviews you gets your resume and nothing else in your file (no essays). So that’s all they’re going off of-no one else has been that transparent.

I am flying out to every school and indeed, I have signed up for the whole shebang including class visits, the lunch with a student, admissions counselor meet and greet, campus tour etc. In fact, I flew out to a school in NY this weekend for a women’s recruiting conference and then trekked down to North Carolina just to put in my facetime even before I turn in the apps. It’s killing my carefully hoarded vacation time and I’ve traded bounding off for interviews to work over Thanksgiving and Christmas, but it’s worth it. If I get in this year I’ll likely be quitting early on to travel, so it’s not that big a deal.

As an aside, I’ve dressed professionally and according to the instructions for every school I’ve visited (business casual, formally etc.) but it’s killing me to be all boring skirt-suited when I see how many women I’ve encountered in non-professional dress!! It reminds me of when my sister was interviewing for med schools and told me she felt like she turned up looking like a flight attendant while everyone else was in mini-skirts, hello kitty tshirts and with a suit jacket and pointy heels.