So you’ve decided to pursue a Masters of Business Administration degree (MBA). Congratulations! Doing so is a significant investment in your future that will help you boost your earning potential and your job outlook. It’s a great way to fast track your career.
However, the admissions process for business school can be rigorous. Some schools even require you to complete an in-person or virtual interview. That may sound stress-inducing, but by doing some homework ahead of time, you can be prepared to impress your interviewers.
We talked to several business school graduates at CommonBond about their experiences with the interview process. These are their five tips for acing your business school interview.
1. Prepare an overview of your goals
MBA interviews frequently focus on why you want to go to business school and what your goals are for your career.
According to Jessie Taylor (Kellogg ‘16), it’s important to be prepared to tell your individual story.
“Know your story inside and out: where you’ve been, where you want to go, how business school is going to help you get there, and what you can contribute to that business school,” Taylor said.
Think about how your past experience has shaped your education or career to date, and how an MBA would help you achieve your goals. When talking about how business school will help you, focus on what makes that school unique.
For example, think about what sets the school apart and whether those distinctions are consistent with your values and what you’re looking to get out of your business school experience.
Is it in a city you want to work in after graduation? Is there a strong alumni network working in your desired post-MBA industry? Does the school have a strong global immersion program?"
By focusing on these attributes, you can impress the interviewer by stating how these unique qualities can enhance your education.
2. Outline your accomplishments
Many people find talking about their accomplishments to be difficult—no one wants to brag. But speaking about what you’ve achieved is a key part of the business school interview process.
It can be helpful to come up with an outline of your accomplishments before the interview to help jog your memory.
Think about what problems you identified, how you came up with a solution, and what the results were. Come armed with examples, and, if possible, bring a portfolio that showcases examples of your work.
3. Do mock interviews beforehand
It can be helpful to practice for an interview.
Alison Bloom-Kiefer (Wharton ‘12), said practice was important for her success.
“I had friends ask me questions and I practiced answering along the lines of leadership, teamwork, professional goals, why [I wanted to go to] business school, and why [I wanted to go to] Wharton.”
To practice, ask friends or family members to ask you questions and answer them as if you were on the real interview. Focus on being concise and to the point.
4. Treat it like a job interview
When it comes to the business school interview, it’s best to treat it like a job interview rather than a casual conversation.
“I prepared [for the business school interview] very similarly to how I would prepare for a job interview,” said Robb Granado (CBW ‘10). “I re-read my admissions essays and did a good bit of reading on the culture of the school, the courses available, and the professor profiles.”
By knowing the professors’ credentials and the available courses, you can be prepared to speak at length about how you’d be a good fit for the program due to your past experience and your goals.
5. Put your best foot forward
While you don’t need to spend a fortune on clothes, a polished presentation can go a long way in helping you make a good impression.
In a business school interview, you want to present a positive, professional image to the interviewer.
Schools typically have dress codes, which are stated on their websites. Most are business formal or business casual.
If you don’t have anything like that in your closet, ask friends if you can borrow something. Or, you could snag an interview-worthy suit at a thrift store for just a few dollars.
Pursuing your MBA
Deciding to go to business school is a big step, one which can give your career a serious boost. By focusing on what you’ve accomplished to date, your goals for the future, and how business school can help you attain those goals, you can be empowered to do your very best in the interview.
Have more questions about making your time in b-school count? We can help. Get connected to one of CommonBond’s own MBA alumni. They can answer your questions and make sure you maximize your MBA experience.
And don't forget to join CommonBond's Pre-MBA group on LinkedIn, where you can ask questions, connect to other "pre-MBAs," and be first to see exclusive b-school content.