Guide to MBA interviews: Everything you need to know

Gauri Khatri

Gauri Khatri

Founder, Pegasus Global Consultants

If you have received an interview call from the business school of your choice, you have already impressed the admission council. Now, you need to further convince them that you are worthy of the final admission letter, and the interview is your chance to do just that. Here are a couple pointers to help you prepare better for the big day:


Qualities Assessed: The interview is a way for the admission committee member to assess the following qualities in you as a candidate:


· Content: You need to be thoroughly aware about what you are talking about. They could ask anything at all from the application you have submitted, and you need to know all the answers, especially regarding your current and future career goals.

· Communication: You could be an A-grade writer, but that is not going to help you in your interview. Practice articulation to increase the quality of your speech, which in turn helps you increase the quality of your interview. Frequent fumbling and visible nervousness does not go down too well with the interviewers.

· Clarity of vision: Your interviewers wants you to convince them that you know exactly what you want, as well as exactly how you are going to achieve said goals. Be convincing in your answers, and avoid sounding confused (thorough self-introspection goes a long way here).


What NOT to do in an interview: So now that you are aware of what are the prime qualities that are judged during an interview, here are some things that you should never do during an interview:

· Too much or too little effort: The interview is a big deal, yes, but trying too hard is an actual thing here; if you try to give all ‘correct’ answers for every question instead of the real ones, you aren’t going very far. In contrast, playing the whole ‘I don’t really care if I get in or not’ angle is not going to do you much good, either.

· Being unprepared: This means that you need to do thorough research before you go in for that interview. Research anything and everything that is even remotely connected to your application or the possible answers you might have to give: the school, your degree, the industry, everything. Better be safe than sorry, right?


It’s D-Day: What do you do on the big day itself? Here’s an idea:

· Dress appropriately: It’s an important event and you should dress accordingly. Men must suit up in formals, and women should opt for formals depending upon the locale. In India, a crisp saree counts as formals, too.

· Smile and stay calm: Present a pleasant demeanour, and try to remain calm during the whole process. If you feel yourself getting overwhelmed, take a few deep breaths, maybe even ask for a minute to think, and then proceed.

· Ask questions: If presented with the opportunity, ask questions, but be original about it.

· Thank them in written: The interview is done, and the last thing you can do to improve your chances is write a thank you note to the interviewer, for their time and effort.


Commonly asked interview questions include but are not limited to the following:


Basic Questions:

Could you walk me through your resume?

Why MBA?

Why do the MBA now?

Why our school?

What are your short term/ long term post-MBA career goals?

What are your three greatest strengths?

What are your two greatest weaknesses?

What do you think will be the biggest concern of the Admissions Committee in evaluating your application?

Do you have any questions for me?


Academic Experience

What was the most rewarding aspect of your undergraduate experience?

What are you most proud of about your undergraduate period?

Why did you select this undergraduate major? Would you have changed your decision today?

To what do you attribute your strong academic performance?

In which campus activities did you participate? What did you learn or gain from this involvement?

Have you ever dropped a class? Why?

Which college classes did you like the best/ least? Why?

Do you think you received a good education?

Do your grades accurately reflect your ability?

Were you financially responsible for part or all of your college education?


Work Experience

Describe your work experience (in general or with specific employers).

What did you find most frustrating at work?

What kinds of changes would you make at your work if you could?

Do you have any opportunities for innovative thinking?

Could you describe an incident where you disagreed with a superior? How was this settled?

What aspect of your job do you most enjoy? Why?

Of what accomplishment at work are you most proud?

If I ask your manager what he/she values in you, what will he/she say?

What problems have you solved in your previous positions?

What have you disliked in your job with employer X?

What are some recent responsibilities you have taken on?

What do you think it is about yourself that enabled you to earn achievements?

Describe a typical workday.


Career Path

Why did you leave job A for job B?

What will you do if you are not accepted to any of the MBA programs you applied to?

What will you do if you are not accepted to our MBA program?

Why did you choose to do X?

Describe your ideal job after completing the MBA.

How does your education or work experience relate to your career goals?

Don’t you think that your career path has been a little disjointed?

If you do not bag a job in the area you like, what will you do?


Leadership and Teamwork

Give me two examples of times when you demonstrated leadership.

How would others describe your leadership style?

What do you think is the right way to get things done through others?

What would you do if a team member wasn’t pulling his own weight?

What qualities should a successful manager possess?

Could you name someone you view as a strong leader? Why?

Do you prefer to work under supervision or on your own?

Give me an example of your teamwork experience.

Do you prefer large or small companies? Why?

What kinds of people do you enjoy working with?

What kinds of people frustrate you?

What kind of people struggle to work with you?


Introspective/ Personal

Tell me about yourself.

Have you ever done any volunteer work? What was it?

Were your extracurricular activities worth the time you put into them? What have they taught you?

What do you like doing outside of work?

Tell me about something in your life you would have done differently if you had the opportunity.

What three adjectives would others use to describe you?

Can you recall a creative/ innovative activity of yours outside work?

Tell me about a time you took a risk and what the experience was like.

If you were to establish a set of values and beliefs on which to build a business, what would they be?

What do success and failure mean to you?

Tell me about a time in which you failed.

How do you make big decisions?

What would you like to change about yourself?

Discuss any experience you have had abroad.

Describe a life experience that had a strong impact on you?

What do you get passionate about?

Do you get bored or feel stagnated? How do you resolve boredom?

What is one thing you want to convey as your interview comes to an end?


Behavioural/ Situational

In dealing with a customer, think of your most difficult situation and tell me how you handled it.

Give an example of a case when you felt your boss made a bad decision and explain how you would have handled it differently.

Describe a time when you had to bend the rules a little in order to accomplish a goal.

Describe a situation where many different things had to get done at once and how you handled it.

Describe a disagreement you had with your boss. What did he say? What did you say?

Describe a major problem you have faced on the job and how you handled it.


The MBA Program

What are you looking for in our program?

What can you contribute to your class?

Why do you think you would enjoy your chosen area of study?

What clubs are you considering joining?

It’s two years after graduation, what three words would your MBA team members use to describe you?

Which other B-schools are you applying to?

If you got into our B-school and B-school ‘X’, which one would you go to and why?


Curve Balls

What is the most interesting conversation you have had this week?

Explain something to me as if I were an eight-year-old.

Tell me something you want to start doing, something you want to do more of, and something you want to do less of.

What is the one thing I would have never guessed about you, even after reading your application?

Assume you’re a cell phone salesman and I’m a goat herder in Spain. How would you convince me I need to buy one of your cell phones?

See that paperclip on the table? Sell it to me.

What is the worst thing you’ve heard about joining our B-school

How many truck tires are there in the United States?

How would you evaluate me as an interviewer?

Why are manhole covers round?

Share this post:

More Articles

Specialized Masters Programs

Graduate students and young professionals are eager to take up “specialized” master programs more than the regular masters’ programs like Masters Program in Computer Science,

Masters in Management

MIM or Masters in Management is a premium post-graduate degree meant for individuals who have just graduated or are young professionals.   Why would you