The Top 5 Things You Can Do to Prepare for Your MBA Interview
An MBA admissions interview is a key part of your application to business school. Receiving an interview request means that the admissions team likes what they see on your application and wants to learn more about how you would fit into the program.
“For us, the interview is a deeper and more personal tool to assess a candidate,” says Kevin Bender, executive director of MBA enrollment management and recruiting for Wake Forest University. “It really brings someone’s application to life.”
If you have an MBA interview coming up, you should take time to prepare. Part of this preparation includes reviewing sample MBA interview questions and thinking about your responses.
What You Should Know About an MBA Interview
Bender says that for most MBA programs, an MBA interview is a requirement for admission. At Wake Forest, applicants for the online MBA program go through a pre-screening process. Each of the application elements—like one’s GPA or work experience—factors into whether someone advances to the next stage of the admissions process and is invited for an interview.
Those who advance through the initial pre-screening process are then asked to schedule an interview.
An interview can often fill in the blanks of an application or resume. For instance, you might have a chance to expand on volunteer work or community service you’ve performed. An interview also gives candidates from nontraditional backgrounds or with lower GPAs an opportunity to improve their chances of getting accepted to the program.
“An interview can change perceptions,” Bender says. “We only get so much out of a resume.”
Bender says MBA interviews are about persuading the interviewer that you belong at their school—and that the school will benefit by your attending the program. “Ultimately, we have to find out whether they are going to fit into our culture,” he says. “We are very collaborative, not cutthroat. It’s not about the individual. It’s about the group getting through challenges together.”
5 Ways to Prepare for Your MBA Interview
Here are several ways you can prepare for your upcoming MBA interview.
1. Rehearse, but Don’t Memorize
Refresh your memory for examples, and have a bank of stories available that you can pull from during the interview. That said, don’t memorize so much that it sounds like you’re reading from a script.
“We want to have a conversation with you,” Bender says. “We’re not looking for overly formal and structured responses.”
2. Be Prepared to Go into Greater Detail
Practice speaking about your accomplishments. Some people find it hard to talk about themselves, but this is your time to shine.
“Just come energized, ready to talk about yourself and your experiences,” Bender says.
3. Mention Two or Three Unique Points About Yourself
You’ll want the interviewer to remember you. Have a few things in mind to bring up, such as hobbies, interesting trips, or associations you’re a part of.
“We look at everything applicants do—from volunteering in their communities to interacting with youth groups,” Bender says.
4. Be Yourself
Limit use of jargon and develop a clear pitch. Do your best to feel comfortable, letting your personality come through.
“Be comfortable talking about topics that go beyond the MBA program,” Bender says. “A free-flowing conversation allows us to better see who you are as a person.”
5. Prepare Your Own Questions
Be curious, listen, and be in the moment. Have a list of questions you’ll want to ask the school, and be sure they’re not what you could find on the school’s website yourself.
“Our hope is that our applicants are looking at multiple schools and that they’ll have some good questions for us,” Bender says. “We hope that they’re prepared and have done some general research.”
Top Questions You May Be Asked During an MBA Interview
You may face a variety of questions in an MBA interview. Bender says Wake Forest has a few they always ask.
“We always lead with a three-part question,” he says. “Why an MBA, why Wake Forest, and why now?”
He says this three-part question reveals the applicant’s motivation, their view of Wake Forest, and their preparation for what’s ahead.
“We also ask about their leadership style,” Bender says. “We have them talk about an individual who expressed incredibly strong leadership, or somebody who was not a good leader. We ask what they learned from that experience.”
Some other top questions asked in MBA interviews, according to the Graduate Management Admission Council, include:
- Tell us about yourself. This open-ended question gives you a chance to give an account of your abilities and background. Talk about your most recent accomplishments and experiences.
- Tell us about your strengths and weaknesses. This question is a window into your humility and self-awareness. Have one or two examples that set you apart and have strong examples to back them up.
- What makes you a suitable candidate for this business school? This question goes back to your research, letting the school know if you understand what makes this school different and how you’ll contribute to the team.
What Schools Are Looking for in Your MBA Interview
Bender says he watches for certain elements when conducting an MBA interview:
- Enthusiasm: This includes ambition and drive. “We really hope that they are enthusiastic, show a lot of energy, and talk about things that have helped them develop into the person and professional that they are,” Bender says.
- Fit: If the candidate is not comfortable speaking in the interview, they won’t be comfortable in a classroom. “We make it very clear that their voice has to be heard in the classroom,” Bender says. “Our MBA program really encourages everyone to participate.”
- Preparation: Don’t ask for basic program details that you would be able to find yourself by doing preliminary research. Interviewers want to see that you have taken the time to prepare.
- Work Ethic: Bender notes that work ethic is not always tied to your grades. “You can have a 3.9 GPA, but if you aren’t willing to work hard, that attitude can come through in the interview,” Bender says.
Find Out More About the Wake Forest Online MBA Program
Bender emphasizes that Wake Forest’s MBA interviews usually feel more like a conversation than a traditional interview. “That’s the way we run our interviews. We want to put people at ease and find out if we’re the right fit for them, too.”
Wake Forest’s online MBA program bridges finance, IT, management, marketing, operations, and strategy with a group of electives, letting you customize your degree to fit your career plans. Request more information about Wake Forest’s online MBA program today.