A business school interview conducted by an MBA admissions officer presents a different set of challenges to interviewing with a student or an alumnus.
Many MBA programs opt for “blind” interviews in which the interviewer has not read your application and only has your resume as a reference point.
When you are interviewing with a member of the MBA admissions committee, on the other hand, you should assume that your interviewer has read your application. Consequently, your preparation will need to take this important difference into consideration.
Generate a List of Likely Questions
To prepare for an MBA admissions interview with an admissions officer, your first step should be to go through your application carefully and generate a list of questions that are likely to spring from a review of your application materials. For example, the interviewer may ask you tell one or more of the stories that you shared in your MBA application essays or pose follow-on questions about an essay to dig deeper.
Don’t Assume, Practice!
Don’t assume that because you’ve written a story for an essay that you are ready to tell that story in a business school interview. You need to practice—out loud with another person. I can’t tell you the number of mock interviews I have had with clients who thought they were ready for their interview after scanning through their essays the night before. They soon find out that the experience of telling a story with an interviewer sitting across from them is a completely different experience than telling it on paper. In an admissions interview, there are no second takes, and it’s very easy to confuse or even lose your listener. Translating your stories into a conversational form and then practicing out loud is critical to your success.
Be Prepared for “Weaknesses” Questions
In addition to asking to share your stories in person, the interviewer might ask you to address weaknesses that are apparent in your application. Therefore, you must review your application with a critical eye. What red flags might be cause for concern? You need to be ready to address those concerns during your interview. For example, if your career has been narrowly focused on one functional area (e.g., marketing), then be prepared to explain what you have done to expand your knowledge of other functions (e.g., finance).
Don’t Forget the Classic MBA Questions
Also realize that even in a “non-blind” interview, admissions committee members will ask you some of the classic MBA interview questions: Why do you want an MBA? What are your career goals? Why do you want to go to our school? Therefore, you need to be ready to ace these typical MBA interview questions as well.
Preparing for an interview with an MBA admissions officer requires you to review your application through the lens of the admission committee, predict the questions they might ask, and outline effective responses to those questions. To ensure you are completely prepared, I recommend that you recruit a friend or an admissions consultant to play the role of an admissions officer in at least one mock interview.