Posted on October 15, 2023

How to Ace MBA Interviews

How to ACE MBA Interview(1)

Business Schools have started sending interview invites to Round 1 applicants. If you are one of those candidates who received the interview offer, congratulations. It's a fantastic accomplishment. But you are not in yet. The admission committee liked your application and wants to have Facetime with you. Through the interview, the Ad Com wants to see who you are beyond the written word. Are you someone they would like to see on their campus and classes? So you must prepare for this stage to get that coveted seat in your desired program. Like GMAT prep and application prep, the interview stage also needs extensive preparation.

MBA interviews are mostly conversational. A second-year student, an alumnus, or an admission officer will ask questions about your goals, leadership experiences, why X school, etc. I always advise my students not to wait for the interview offer to begin their preparation. Sometimes, the schools don't give enough time to the candidates to prepare. So start preparing soon after submitting your application.

In this article, we will discuss strategies that will help you at different stages:

A. Before the Interview
B. During the Interview
C. At the end of the interview
D. After the interview

A. Before the interview

1. Review your Application Materials: Before the interview, you should thoroughly review all parts of your application package: your essays, online application, recommendation letters, and resume. Be prepared to answer questions regarding topics discussed in essays, such as career goals, why target school, contribution to the school, and information provided in resume. This preparation will enable you to answer questions like, 'Walk me through your resume.'

2. Be articulate about your Career Goals: B-schools are concerned about their prospective students' post-MBA career paths, so be prepared to discuss your post-MBA goals. Have a clear idea of why you want an MBA and how it fits into your career path.

3. Research Extensively: Research the school's offerings, culture, and values and how it aligns with your career aspirations. Conduct online research and talk to former students to better understand why you are a good fit for the MBA program. The key is to show how you will thrive and add value to the program. Understand whether it is a 'blind' or 'non-blind' interview and who will interview you: current student, alumnus, or admissions officer.

4. Prepare your Pre-MBA Industry Experience: Be prepared to discuss your pre-MBA industry experience as a significant tool to ace B-school Interviews. Understand how your day-to-day work impacted business metrics. Stay updated about key trend changes in your industry and recent advancements in people, processes, or technology.

5. Practice Common MBA-related questions: Prepare a list of questions and start practicing them. Write out short bullet points to outline your responses to your practice questions. Practice answering common interview questions with a friend, family member, or career coach. This helps you articulate your thoughts clearly. You can also practice in front of a mirror.

6. Stay Updated with Current Events: Be aware of current events, especially those related to business, politics, and technology. A well-informed candidate demonstrates intellectual curiosity and awareness of the world, which are valuable traits for an MBA candidate.

7. Prepare for Behavioral Questions: Be ready to answer behavioral questions that assess your skills in leadership, teamwork, problem-solving, and conflict resolution. Use the STAR method (Situation, Task, Action, Result) to structure your responses effectively.

8. Practice Time Management: Practice answering questions within a specific time frame. MBA interviews are often time-bound and concise, yet comprehensive answers showcase your ability to manage time effectively.

B. During the interview

1. Demonstrate Confidence and Professionalism: Dress professionally, maintain good body language, and be confident. Confidence without attitude is the key. Also, maintaining poise is vital. Don't feel obligated to answer the question the moment it is asked. You may take a few seconds to process and answer it. If you do not understand the question, you may politely request the interviewer to repeat the question.

2. Dress Appropriately: Wear professional attire that is suitable for a business interview. First impressions matter, and dressing professionally shows that you take the interview seriously.

3. Be Articulate in Your Responses: Provide clear, concise, and to-the-point answers. Use specific examples from your experiences to illustrate your points. Refrain from using jargon. When talking about school-specific stuff, make sure to cite your sources. For example, if you are going to namedrop a current student, provide some context- why did you talk to this person and what did this person recommend?

4. Discuss your Best Stories: Share compelling stories about your achievements, challenges, and growth that make you memorable and relatable. Your professional achievements should get significant time during your interview. Emphasize your teamwork and leadership skills. Generally, 4-5 stories that you can easily modify to cover most top questions.

5. Use the STAR Method Effectively: When answering behavioral questions, avoid spending too much time setting up the situation. Instead, detail the key steps you took and how you excelled in each example. As suggested earlier, use the STAR technique you followed in writing some essays (Situation, Task, Action, and Result) to discuss (e.g., 'Tell me about a time when you faced a challenge'). It will help you construct a complete and concise answer and prevent you from drifting away from the expected response.

6. Mind Your Body Language: During the interview, be mindful of your body language. Sit up straight, maintain eye contact, and offer a firm handshake. Non-verbal cues can convey confidence and professionalism.

7. Show Your Enthusiasm: Express your genuine enthusiasm for the school and the program. Let the interviewer know why you are passionate about joining their institution. Your enthusiasm can set you apart from other candidates.

8. Handle Stressful Questions Gracefully: Be prepared for challenging or unexpected questions. Stay composed and handle these questions with grace. It's okay to take a moment to gather your thoughts before responding.

C. At the End of the Interview

1. Ask the Interviewer Questions: At the end, ask the interviewer a thoughtful question to demonstrate your genuine interest and engagement. Alumni interviewers will enjoy reminiscing about their MBA experiences and will love answering any questions about clubs or activities they were involved in. Current students can provide insights into what they enjoyed most during their MBA and what they wish they had known.

2. Ask a Question that Shows Your Curiosity for the School: The last 5-10% of every interview is perhaps the most important. You must leave a strong final impression by asking the right question. You should ask at least one question. If you do not ask anything, your interviewer might assume you are not interested in attending the school. Also, your question should be relevant and not something that can be quickly answered by checking a website. It should not appear as a desperate attempt to ask anything.

D. After the Interview

1. Reflect and Prepare: Evaluate your performance. Consider what went well and what could be improved. Learn from each experience. My students have told me that they found themselves improving with each interview. Last year, some MER students who were unsuccessful after Round 1 interviews worked on their mistakes and came out with flying colors in their Round 2 interviews.

You can check out their stories here: Perseverance is the Key to Success - Journey of Two MER Students.

2. Follow Up After the Interview: Send a personalized thank-you email reiterating your appreciation for the opportunity to interview. Mention specific aspects of the conversation to demonstrate your attentiveness.

Read the following blog for pointers on writing a 'Thank You' note: How to Write a Thank-You Note After an MBA Interview

Thus, preparation is the key to excelling in the interview. Remember, each interview is a chance to showcase your qualifications and connect with the interviewers on a personal level. Stay calm, be yourself, and let your genuine passion for pursuing an MBA shine through. Being well-prepared and authentic in your responses will significantly enhance your chances of securing a spot in your desired MBA program.

Good luck with your interview.

Other Resources for the Interview Preparation

1. myEssayReview Blogs

You may also go through the following blogs:

6 Things to Consider During MBA Interviews
MBA Interview-helpful Tips for Round 2 Applicants

2. Interview Debriefs of MER Students

Interview Debriefs of MER Students- 2021-22 Application Cycle
MBA Interview Debriefs-MER Students

About MER (myEssayReview)

Poonam Tandon, the founder of MER (myEssayReview), is a Ph.D. in English with 12 years of MBA consulting experience and three decades of teaching experience in India and the US. A master storyteller, Poonam has successfully guided hundreds of students worldwide to gain admission into the esteemed MBA, EMBA, and specialized master's programs in the US, Canada, Europe, and Asia. Throughout her four-decade-long professional career, she has reviewed 10,000+ essays written by applicants worldwide. Poonam is recognized as one of the top 5 most reviewed consultants on the GMAT Club (143 reviews).

Do you have questions about your application for the 2023-24 application cycle? E-mail Poonam at or sign up here for a free consultation.