Heart racing, palms sweating, stomach sinking … You know the feeling—the nerves that take over right before walking into an interview.
What are they going to ask? What am I going to say? What if I screw it all up?
Believe it or not, everyone experiences those feelings at one point or another, even those really, really confident-looking people! Even if you can’t get rid of it completely, you can reduce the amount of stress you feel by preparing for an interview before it happens. Knowing in advance what the interviewer might ask can give you time to come up with the best possible answers, which should keep your nerves from completely taking over.
If you’re getting ready for an MBA interview, you’re in luck. We’ve rounded up a list of 12 common MBA interview questions and given a little guidance on the best answers.
Common MBA Interview Questions
- Tell me about yourself.
This universal, completely open-ended interview question has the potential to trip you into a bottomless pit—don’t let it. Prove that you’re well-versed and have the ability to articulate and structure your thoughts. Keep your answer around 2-3 minutes, and make sure to focus on your undergraduate education, your work experience and accomplishments, and your career goals. Everything you talk about should lead to why you’re right, and why the school would benefit from you pursuing an MBA there.
- Why do you want to receive an MBA? Why now?
Explain your motivation for pursuing a graduate business degree and why you feel now is the right time. Describe how an MBA will help you achieve your career goals and emphasize that the degree is a critical part of your plan.
- Why are you interested in this school or program?
Show that you’ve done your research. List all of the reasons you feel the school or program is ideally suited for you, whether it’s their faculty, facilities, course offerings, class size, student activities, job placement record, networking opportunities or location. You want to convey that this school is one of, if not the top choice for you.
- What has been your most challenging or rewarding academic experience so far?
Think back to your time as an undergrad—your favorite (or least favorite) professors, classes, projects and organizations. If you’re going to talk about a challenge you faced, describe how you were able to overcome the challenge and turn it into a positive or successful experience. If you’re talking about a situation that was rewarding, explain why it was rewarding and what you gained from the experience.
- Discuss a time when you were a leader.
It’s very likely that the interviewer will be interested in your leadership skills—this is common among MBA interview questions. Have several specific examples ready that illustrate different forms of leadership, from leading a team, to taking the ethical high ground, to making a positive impact.
Can Ahtam, Assistant Director of Admission for Bentley's Graduate School of Business, says that the best answers always involve potential students' involvement with extracurricular activities or organizations outside of their workplace. "We can see that they are doing things that allow them to develop valuable skills like organizing events, managing people and other resources, and creating value in a certain area," he says.
- What do you like most about your current work?
This is an opportunity to direct the conversation toward something you're truly passionate about. What do you love about your job, and why did you choose that particular career path? What do you find rewarding or satisfying about what you currently do? Even if you’re unhappy in your current position, you should be able to name at least one good thing about it—this shows you’re able to find positivity in a negative situation.
- What kinds of changes would you make at work if you could?
Describe how you would make positive changes within your workplace. Make sure to keep your ideas business-related—maybe creating a new team within your firm or reaching out to a new industry. This shows that you’re innovative and that you know how to improve and impact a business.
- How would your colleagues and/or supervisor describe you?
Highlight both professional and personal characteristics that will indicate what kind of student and classmate you’ll be. Just remember that your supervisor is most likely the one who wrote your recommendation, so the interviewer already knows what they’d say. That means don’t make something up! Paint an accurate picture of what you’re really like at work.
- What are some of your strengths and weaknesses?
Coming up with strengths is fairly easy—you know what you’re good at. Pick two or three that would set you apart and back yourself up with a few examples. When it comes to weaknesses, it gets a little harder. You may be nervous to admit a weakness for fear that it’ll turn the interview south, but the interviewer will probably be more interested in how you handle yourself during this tough question than your actual answer. After you state a weakness, make sure you’re able to recover from the blow by leading the conversation back to a positive.
- What are your short- and long-term goals?
Your short-term goals should be concrete and achievable, while your long-term goals should line up with your passions and personality. You should include at least a couple of business and career-oriented goals so you can show how an MBA would play a part in helping you achieve them.
- If you’re admitted to our program, what do you think your biggest challenge will be?
For interview questions like this, prove that you’re aware of the demands of a graduate degree program and that you’re ready to face them. Be candid, explain how you’ll address the challenge, and show that you’re thinking about how to manage your time and resources wisely.
- Do you have any questions for me?
You’ll most certainly be asked if you have any questions yourself, and you definitely should. You want to show that you’re serious, that you’ve done your homework, and that you’re putting a great amount of thought into the process. Here are some questions you could ask:
What do you think sets this business program apart from others?
What major changes do you see on the horizon for this program?
How does your program work to develop relationships with the business field or X industry?
If you were in my position, with my goals, what would you say are your program’s biggest advantages to me?
If you’re getting ready for a graduate degree interview, make sure you prepare with these MBA interview questions. Take the time to carefully consider your answers, and make sure those answers truly convey your skills and passion for the business world. If you do that, the nerves may not fully subside, but your interview will be a success!