Want to know how to prepare for MBA interview questions? Giving strong answers and acing your MBA interview is critical to getting into the top business schools. You may be wondering, is an MBA interview really all that different from any other interview? What kinds of questions will they ask me? What can I do to prepare for it? An interview for business school is different from any other school or job interview you’ve ever had. To prepare for MBA interview questions, you need to curate your interview answers just as carefully as your MBA resume.
In this blog, we’ll walk you through 60 of the most common MBA interview questions, along with detailed tips on how to answer them, and expert answers!
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Personal MBA Interview Questions
#1 Tell me about yourself.
This is one of the most commonly asked questions in any interview, whether it’s a med school interview, job interview, or MBA interview. It’s a seemingly easy question often used to start off an interview. But it’s actually one of the tricky MBA interview questions you’ll get. Due to the open-ended nature of the question, it’s easy to ramble on and on and take too much time answering this question. Remember that with this question, you have the chance to set the tone of your interview, connect with the highlights of your application, and introduce the key talking points you want to communicate in the interview. The answer to this question provides a kind of template or background, and the next questions should build upon the narrative you establish with this answer.
How to Answer:
When they ask “tell me about yourself”, your answer should be short, concise, and well-structured. In no longer than 2 to 3 minutes, touch upon your key personal, work, and academic experiences, extracurriculars, accomplishments, and career goals. Don’t spend too much time on any one of the above listed topics – you’ll get a chance with later questions to expand on the specifics. Most importantly, don’t just give a dry, facts-based summary of yourself, similar to your resume. This is not a recitation of your CV! The admissions committee will be interviewing many candidates, and you need to stand out from the crowd. Try to highlight interesting facts such as an off-beat hobby, an important personal detail, etc. Also, try to touch upon why an MBA is important to you and what fuels your passion for business.
Growing up in rural Ohio in the early 90s, I had limited access to technological advancements and to the world of art. Fortunately, my parents were both high school teachers who loved taking us on trips to Chicago and Philadelphia, where we were exposed to collections of some of the greatest art in human history. My love for sharing art stems from these trips.
Throughout my studies of art history at ABC University, I understood the inevitable correlation between the art world and the world of digital innovations, and I saw the potential in new media to bring art to the masses. That’s how I went from being an art history major to becoming a new media entrepreneur who aspires to transform the business of digital art.
When I graduated from school with top honors, I was recruited by DigiNow, one of the leaders in the digital art space in New York. I launched their DigiNow app that enabled us to directly connect artists with patrons. I developed the business model, fine-tuned the payment schedules, and marketed the app resulting in a 30% increase in their sales, thus confirming to myself that my ideas had a solid practical benefit for everyone involved. I want to continue to take my knowledge of art, my strong entrepreneurial drive, and passion for direct-to-consumer business models, to start my own digital art company affiliated with the major entertainment networks. To do this, I need to make the right connections, gain a rich digital analytics skillset, and tap into the right networks, which is why I am pursuing an MBA.
Getting ready for your MBA interview? Here are some more tips:
#2 What are your strengths and weaknesses?
This is another commonly asked interview question. You may receive variations of this question, including “What’s your greatest weakness?” “What are your limitations as a business leader?” etc. This is a tough one for many candidates as the whole purpose of an interview is to show your best self – how can you do that by highlighting your negative qualities? At the same time, many candidates struggle with describing their strengths without appearing to indulge too much in self-flattery. This is why MBA interview prep is critical, so you’ll know ahead of time how to answer confidently. With this question, interviewers are looking to evaluate your self-awareness and how committed you are to improvement. They want to know if you can evaluate yourself honestly, if you grow from your mistakes, and if you have an improvement-oriented mindset.
How to answer:
You can use this question to highlight characteristics or qualities about yourself that need improvement, or to explain major gaps in your resume, a low GPA in an MBA application or poor test scores. You can also take responsibility for any setbacks and failures you have faced in the past or are currently facing. For instance, if you are applying for an MBA while unemployed. Do not play victim to circumstances! Be sincere and don’t try to provide clever answers such as “my weakness is I’m too hardworking” – interviewers will instantly see through such tactics and mark you down for them. By honestly evaluating your weaknesses, and describing how they balance against your strengths, you can showcase how well-rounded you are as a candidate and that you can learn from your mistakes. When explaining your weaknesses, remember to talk about how you have addressed them in the past, and how you will continue to work on them. When talking about your strengths, don’t be modest, but at the same time back up each point with examples that showcase your strengths.
My greatest strength is my communication skills. I am a fluent and empathetic communicator and I find it easy to show people my point of view, which makes me good at solving problems in the business context. Last year, at my company, we faced major personnel issues due to company-wide revisions to employment contracts that sparked unsubstantiated rumors. In my role as Associate Director in the H.R. department, I came up with a comprehensive communication campaign that combined mailers, posters, meetings, conferences, and one-on-one sessions, conducted by myself, to effectively communicate the new company policies and address false rumors. By the end of the two-week period, our employee complaints were reduced by 80% and the CEO of the company acknowledged my efforts by awarding me the Over-and-Above Young Achievers Award for that year.
My greatest weakness is that I have difficulty delegating. “If you want something done right, do it yourself” is a mantra which I have taken much too seriously in the past. While such a life motto was easy to follow when I was handling smaller projects at the undergrad level, once I joined a professional environment, I quickly learnt how detrimental this position can be to promoting a positive work environment and achieving maximum efficiency. My biggest test came when I was given a solo project last year to manage all the interns and new employees in the H.R. department. I found myself often completing tasks meant for the interns, and letting new employees only perform non-essential tasks while doing the time-sensitive work on my own. This led to a repeated missed deadlines and eventually, I worked out a plan for efficiently delegating work in such a way that I could supervise the new employees while letting them perform their jobs. Now, whenever I am tasked with any new project as a team leader, I am very careful to consciously consider the roles of each of the team members, and plan how to delegate the right tasks to each of them.
Here's a guide to the types of MBA interview questions you can expect:
#3 What are your short-term and long-term goals?
The MBA admissions committee asks this question for a couple of reasons. First, they want to see how well your practical goals align with the vision of their school and whether or not their program can substantially help you with your aspirations. Second, they want to know the scope of your ambitions and your own vision for your future, as it shows them what kind of candidate you are and eventually, what kind of alumni you might be!
How to answer:
When answering this question, you should describe not only your goals, but also your personal motivations behind them as well as what steps you are taking to achieve them, such as gaining relevant work experiences, developing skills, and so on. That definitely includes the very process of applying for an MBA! For your short-term goals, focus on what you plan to achieve in the next 2 or 3 years, including what you plan to accomplish while getting your MBA. For long-term goals, sketch a brief foundation of your long-term career plans that shows your passion for business while also being realistic. Don’t overreach with crazy, unrealistic goals since that will only prove to the admissions committee that you can’t think pragmatically. Finally, make sure there is an underlying connection between your short-term and long-term goals – they should not seem totally disconnected from each other.
My key motivation for everything I do is to be able to seek out people-oriented human resource solutions via scaled-up technologies and the latest information management systems. In the short-term, my goals are to gain a through grounding in the principles of business management, seek out key connections within the top HR networks of the country, and refine my knowledge of the HR consultancy needs of today. I believe an MBA from your program is how I can accomplish all of my short-term goals. If accepted into your program, I plan to sign up for all the HR-centric electives, and especially hope to work directly with and learn from Professor Ronald Grey, one of the leading H.R. recruitment consultants in the world, and to participate in his annual H.R. Consulting and Solutions seminar. After graduating, I hope to enter one of the top H.R. consulting firms in our country, specifically, ABC Consulting, since their vision for using the latest data technologies to enable scaled personnel solutions align perfectly with my own areas of interest. I hope to spend a few years at the company, developing and enacting innovative solutions and projects as part of my role there, getting promoted from Manager to Director in 2-3 years. Eventually, I wish to start my own H.R. consulting firm that specializes in enacting creative solutions to tackle large scale recruitment, information management, and resource allocation problems for corporates. My ambition is to have a company with a diversified portfolio of clients and a global outreach, so that we can tap into the economies of scale to accomplish cross-sector solutions to common H.R. problems.
Are you still working on your MBA application? Check out our tips for a stellar MBA resume below:
#4 What do you like most about your professional field/your current job?
This question is an opportunity for you to show the MBA admissions committee your passion for your career and why you’re choosing to do what you do. MBA programs are looking for enthusiastic, motivated, focused individuals who have a deep commitment to their business goals and have already spent some time defining their motivations. This answer is your chance to show yourself as one of them.
How to answer:
If you get this question, try to keep your answer specific and personal, connecting your passions to your experiences and goals. But at the same time, avoid including questionable points such as “work-life balance” or “making money”. While these might be part of the reason you enjoy your job, at the end of the day, your MBA interview answers need to showcase your larger vision for life and demonstrate that your values match up with the MBA program you’re applying to. For instance, talking about earning money as something you enjoy, rather than the work itself or the thrill of the business, shows how limited your goals are. It’s obvious that you enjoy being paid – who doesn’t? Instead, try to differentiate yourself by talking about your specific reasons for enjoying your current profession.
As a people-person my greatest joy is always when I get to work with different types of people, exchanging ideas and building productive relationships. The opportunity to direct people from diverse professional and personal backgrounds, coordinate their efforts, and synthesize their ideas into useful solutions for our company is my favorite thing about my current role as the Social Media Manager at ABC Company. My department doesn’t have a traditional personnel list. Instead, I recruit people from various other departments for short-term and long-term projects based on their skills, experiences, and passion for the work. This gives me the rare opportunity to speak to people from a variety of professional backgrounds, with such interesting personal stories, and find them a role in my department that perfectly utilizes their talents. Last year, I was looking for a graphic designer for a new six-month targeted multi-platform social media campaign we were launching. One of the applicants was a current employee from the IT department who had recently completed her graphic design certification and was looking to transition to that role. Though she didn’t have much professional experience, she had an impressive portfolio and deep knowledge of the requirements of the various social media platforms due to her own personal love for social media, and I hired her for our project. She went on to be one of the key players in the success of that campaign, contributing critical ideas that helped us extend the outreach of the campaign and is today a manager in the Graphic Design department. It’s moments of success like this that make me love my job!
Want more grad school interview tips?
#5 What does diversity mean to you? What can you add to the incoming cohort?
Today, most MBA programs strive to promote diversity and inclusion in their MBA cohorts and seek candidates who also believe in and can help promote such values. Hence, you can expect questions like these about diversity and how it connects with your own life. Since this is a relatively open-ended question, you have the advantage of choosing how you want to approach this topic and what you want to talk about.
How to answer:
There are two different strategies you could use while answering this question:
- If you yourself belong to a minority group and will be adding to the diversity of their MBA cohort, you can choose to talk about your own experiences, and how they have influenced your passion for business, and what unique perspectives you’ll be bringing to this program. MBA admissions committees want students that come from different backgrounds and bring in diverse experiences to share with their classmates and teachers.
- If you’d rather not talk about your personal background, you can choose to focus instead on what diversity means to you, and how you have championed diversity as a cause in the past.
You could also choose to combine the two strategies, talking about both your own struggles, how you grew from them, and how you’ve helped others along the way. Remember to always connect your own experiences and values with the specific values of the school you’re applying to.
Encouraging diversity, inclusion, and equal opportunities for all is a cornerstone of my personal and business philosophy. My father is an Asian immigrant and is the most hard-working, dedicated businessman I’ve ever met. He came here with nothing and today, is the proud owner of a thriving restaurant business that he built from the ground up. Growing up, I saw the many systemic challenges he faced due to his race, and also how he dealt with adversity by changing problems into opportunities. His bravery, dedication, and cleverness inspired me to follow in his footsteps as an entrepreneur with my own business. However, whereas my father didn’t get many choices and had to deal with unfair practices without recourse to justice, I believe my generation has the opportunity and responsibility to advocate for systemic changes so we can make the business world more inclusive for people from all different backgrounds. In my professional career, I have attempted to follow this path by implementing inclusive policies, speaking up in the face of injustice, and encouraging diverse voices in the workplace. For instance, in my current role as Operations Manager at ABC Firm, I abolished the “upper age limit” ban that was an actual official policy designed to keep out new hires under the age of 40. In fact, one of the reasons I am so attracted to your MBA program is the immense value you place on diversity and inclusion. There’s so much to learn from working with people of different backgrounds that my own, and only such exposure can help me expand my world view and get that critical insight into different narratives. If I am accepted to your MBA program, I look forward to sharing my own unique perspectives with my classmates, learning from them, and fostering fruitful discussions about how to make our workplaces more diverse and inclusive.
MBA Interview Questions About Your Experiences
#6 What are your best achievements as a leader?
This question is particularly important for MBA candidates as it highlights their suitability for business education. Interviewers are looking for future business leaders, who have a demonstrated ability to lead teams, work with people, and achieve results.
How to answer:
To answer personal questions like this one, you can use a simple framework to formulate your answer: provide the context or background, briefly outline the specific results or goals achieved—what did you achieve as a leader—then discuss the key lessons you learned or the main takeaways of these achievements—in other words, why are they your “best” achievements as a leader?
To provide the context for this question, you should think of 2 or 3 achievements, with (ideally) at least one from your professional life, which highlight your leadership skills and business acumen. Of course, you can also include relevant incidents from your personal or academic life, but they should be really impressive and relate to your business school ambitions. Then, discuss the specific achievements, goals you met or most notable results from these achievements. When answering this question, don’t focus on trivial, task-based achievements; rather, pick achievements that show your unique capabilities, and that will differentiate you from the crowd. Finally, talk a bit about what you learned from these 2 or 3 achievements and what skills those experiences taught you.
When I first joined ABC Corp. as the Social Media Manager, they had an online presence on just one social media platform, and their online engagement was at 15%, as compared to our nearest competitors, who had an online engagement of 50%. I developed and implemented a cross-platform, integrated, direct-to-consumer social media engagement campaign that resulted in a 70% increase in digital engagement. Our 10-person strong team included members handpicked by me from different departments, and I created an agile work model where we simultaneously brainstormed, developed, executed, monitored, and revised social media blitz campaigns. Within 6 months, our sales surpassed our 3 nearest competitors, and we went from being number 5 to being number 2 retailers in the luxury jewelry digital sales arena in the US.
A year later, I led the re-branding campaign for our three lowest performing imprints. Though plenty of money and resources had been invested in these imprints, the ROI was quite low, and the upper management was at their wits’ end about how to make these white elephants profitable. I decided that in order to manage our losses and court future profits, we needed to shift these imprints to an entirely digital platform, and re-brand to focus on different demographics as suited the new image of our company. I created separate research, marketing, advertising, and re-branding task forces, and created a coherent framework to integrate and implement the results from each of these. As a result, we achieved a quarterly sales increase of 25, 30, and 40% for each of the imprints and completely revitalized the brand image of the company. An indirect result was the significant impact on the company morale, as the cross-departmental efforts inspired creative ideas from employees at every level.
These experiences showed me that effective teamwork and clear goals create a shared sense of satisfaction when that goal is achieved. The many involved departments produced new and innovative ideas when they came together to work on a shared project, reinvigorating previously poor-performing assets and revitalizing the company image.
#7 Tell me about a time you failed.
This question may seem similar to the ones asking about your weaknesses, but they key difference is that here you need to highlight a specific event and talk about it in detail. It doesn’t necessarily have to be linked to a specific weakness. Interviewers will be impressed with an answer that shows self-reflection, a balanced world view, and a commitment to self-improvement.
How to answer:
Choose the incident wisely. On the one hand, it shouldn’t be a pseudo-failure where you didn’t really fail, as interviewers will note that you evaded the question and will conclude that you can’t honestly talk about your mistakes. On the other hand, the incident shouldn’t raise any major red flags – for example, no one will want a candidate who admits to criminal activities such as embezzling funds from a company! The incident can be from your business, academic or personal life, as long as your answer highlights how the failure influenced your journey to business school. Remember that this question isn’t a chance to air personal grievances or talk about how others have failed you. Remember, take responsibility for any setbacks you experienced! Keep the overall tone positive and avoid painting others in a bad light. Instead, try to show a sense of personal responsibility and a growth mindset. When describing the incident, always have a clear framework in mind. You could try the following:
- Briefly describe what happened and the circumstances of this event
- Account for how you dealt with the situation
- Explain what you learned from the situation and how you will apply these lessons in the future
In my first year at ABC company, I was managing a project for a new contract with a client that believed in a hands-on approach, wanting to be involved with everything and focusing greatly on strict deadlines. In order to address this perceived client requirement, I decided to go over and above the set framework for client interactions, and sent them detailed, daily status reports about how their project was progressing. I hoped this extra activity would help the client feel involved with the project and avoid any misunderstandings about how their resources were being utilized. These reports added to our workload and stretched our resources. Ultimately, those daily reports did little to assuage the client’s initial concerns and in fact, added to their stress as they reported feeling overwhelmed by information that meant little to them. Due to the time and resources spent on these daily reports, we ended up exceeding our time and budgetary requirements for the project. I realized too late that the right solution would have been to establish an effective communication framework during contract negotiations, rather than veering from the established contract. It was a lesson in how over-zealousness can sometimes cause more problems than it solves, and it helped me realize that smart thinking is always better than just hard working. I now make it a point to negotiate a mutually satisfactory communication system with every client in the trial period. This focus on early establishment of efficient strategies and successful client relationships is, I believe, the key to high client approval ratings and consistent results.
MBA Interview Questions About the Program
#8 Why do you want an MBA?
You might have already explained why you to pursue an MBA in your personal statement or application essays. Answering this question in an interview is a different challenge, and in some ways, it’s more difficult. It’s easy to spin a beautiful, motivational story on paper, when you have time to revise and edit your essay until it’s perfect. In person, you have to be precise, thoughtful, and articulate, communicating your passion for business without getting too sidetracked by irrelevant details.
How to answer:
Remember that when you answer this question, you’re aiming for the “Goldilocks zone” – not too ambitious and not too modest. Avoid coming up with wildly ambitious statements such as “I want to be CEO of Microsoft one day” or “I want to be the next Mark Zuckerberg”. At the same time, don’t focus on short-term career goals that may seem trivial to the interviewer, such as “I want a promotion” or “I want a 25% raise at work”. Your answer should focus on your long-term career goals, building from your previous experience, and it should illustrate how, exactly, the MBA degree will contribute to your ambitions. This is where a mock MBA interview can be useful, as it will help you tweak your response to tricky questions like this, and get feedback. An MBA admissions consulting service is a great resource for expert feedback and personalized interview prep!
I’ve always been passionately interested in the technical advancements in the field of bio-technology and how we can utilize them to solve the greatest health crises of today. My academic background at ABC University and my professional experience at XYZ Corp. helped to hone my technical knowledge and skills in this area, and in the last two years, I have developed an interest in the marketing applications of genetic coding, and how big data analysis can be used to target healthcare solutions for specific populations. I presented at the New Technologies Conference last autumn, where I connected with data analysis bio-technology experts with actual business experience. They helped me refine my own business ideas and identify what I need to make my business dreams a reality. While I think I am imminently technically qualified to take on this challenge, I need to spruce up my marketing and consulting skills. An MBA will help me refine my customer-to-business modeling frameworks and access the key players in healthcare networks who can bridge the gap between ideas and execution.
#9 Why this school/MBA program?
This is one of the most commonly asked graduate school interview questions so it’s no wonder it’s also a popular MBA interview question. The answer to this question may seem obvious to you – because you want an MBA, from a good school! – but interviewers are looking for something extra to distinguish you from the rest. They will assess your answer to understand why you personally are suited to this school and MBA program. Most importantly, they will evaluate whether you have done your research about what the school offers and what makes this program unique. They will definitely notice if you have just applied to their school because it’s a “good” school, without any consideration of what makes them different from other programs.
How to answer:
Don’t waste time focusing too much on how prestigious the school is or how the program is one of the best in the country. Such answers are obvious and don’t say anything about you, and every answer you give should be proving why YOU are the right candidate for this program. Instead, your answer should focus on 2 or 3 practical aspects of their school/MBA program such as the focus of the program, the courses, the school faculty, industry connections, job placements, school culture etc. Connect these to your past experiences and/or career goals to emphasize how you can mutually benefit from your participation in their MBA program. To prepare for this question, make sure you thoroughly research the school, its mission, values, the program curriculum, faculty, and so on.
I applied to your MBA program as it’s one of the few in the country that offers a full specialization in Digital Marketing. My ambition is to run my own luxury retail digital marketing consulting firm specializing in business-to-customer social media campaigns and your school’s emphasis on bringing business into the 21st century perfectly aligns with my career interests. The chance to work with Professor Hazel, who has successfully launched three FMCG companies and is one of the top digital marketing consultants in the world today, is another big attraction for me. Through her, I hope to gain an insight into the inner workings of the evolving digital marketing space and make crucial connections in this arena.
Wondering how to prepare for a Kira Talent interview? Check out our video:
#10 What other schools are you applying to?
This is one of the trickiest questions you’ll face in your MBA interview. The challenge is knowing exactly why they’re asking you this question! Depending on the school in question, there could be a few different reasons. For many of the best MBA programs in the US, this question is a way to assess your likelihood of attending their program, if accepted, which directly impacts their “yield” percentage, aka the percentage of students who accept a position in their program from all those who receive an offer. A candidate with many impressive Ivy League schools on their list interviewing at a non-Ivy League MBA program might raise some concerns. However, not everyone thinks this way! Some interviewers just want to see if you’re ambitious or playing it safe with your applications. Others want to see if your list of schools demonstrates prior thought, research, and insight on your part. There’s no way of knowing, so don’t stress about it too much. Prepare a solid answer that meets their criteria, either way.
How to answer:
No matter what the motivation behind this question, your answer needs to be honest and well thought out. Don’t lie about the schools you’ve applied to, as being caught in a lie is the biggest red flag for any applicant! Instead, structure your answer such that you can honestly share all the programs you’ve applied to, but you are still able to highlight your special interest in a particular MBA program. Start by listing all the schools you’re applying to and then explain why you chose each of them. Be thoughtful about picking details about those schools that honestly match with your goals. Finally, end your answer by making the case for why the MBA program you’re applying to is an excellent, or even superior, choice with specific examples to support your answer. If this school is your top choice, then don’t hesitate to spell that out! You can also consider sending an MBA letter of intent.
If it isn’t, then you need to be more careful when answering. Avoid lying and saying a program is your top choice if it isn’t. Instead, end your answer by pointing out some of the key attractions of their MBA program that particularly suit you.
If you’re still trying to figure out how to choose the right MBA program for you, be sure to research some different programs!
In addition to your MBA program, I’ve applied to the MBA programs at ABC and XYZ schools. My goal when selecting the schools to apply was two-fold: one, to identify the best schools that could give me a comprehensive business education, and two, to select the programs that offered an innovative curriculum, hands-on experiences, and access to networks that best aligned with my short-term and long-term career goals. For instance, I applied to ABC’s MBA program as it offers a diverse curriculum covering business principles and cutting-edge financial models taught by many inspiring industry leaders that I’d love to learn from. XYZ school also has an excellent curriculum, and I was also attracted to their focus on providing students with actual industry exposure through on-site projects, seminars with current industry professionals, alumni networking events, and so on.
However, your school is my number one choice since it is the only one that focuses on combining the solid principles of old-school business with cutting-edge research and innovation and providing students with a plethora of first-hand business challenges to cut their teeth on. I am very inspired by the depth and breadth of your curriculum and how it gives me the opportunity to learn from and network with iconic business leaders such as Mr. Gerald Brown as well as trail-blazing entrepreneurs such as Ms. Mary Malcolm. Your school is also the only one located in my home state, which is a priority for me as it lets me stay close to my current business and maintain my connections and existing networks more easily, while also focusing on getting the best MBA education I can get.
#11 If you are admitted to our program, what do you think your biggest challenge will be?
With this question, interviewers are looking to evaluate your self-awareness and preparedness for this program. They want to make sure you’ve thought through your candidacy for this MBA program, and are prepared to handle the challenges that come your way.
How to answer:
Similar to the questions about your weaknesses or biggest failures, when you’re answering this question, it’s best to be honest while also being strategic about which challenges you choose to talk about. An MBA program is one of the toughest post-grad degrees that is designed to challenge you! Interviewers want to know if you’ve thought about how you can handle it. So, start by acknowledging the aspects of the program you’ll personally find difficult, and then lead into how you plan to meet the challenges and rise to the occasion. Remember that this question isn’t about your shortcomings – it's more about the program and the “flaws” in the program from your perspective. So potential answers could range from your concerns about coping with the rigorous coursework or class schedules while managing your personal projects, to finding adequate funding sources for the tuition.
I believe the biggest challenge I’ll face if admitted to this MBA program is managing my on-going entrepreneurial project alongside the rigorous requirements of your MBA curriculum. I see two concerns here: first, I’ll be tempted to start implementing business strategies, techniques, and skills that I learn here in my business, as soon I learn them, which could be disastrous without the full context of a complete MBA education. Second, I’ll be sorely strapped for time, trying to keep up with the demands of a fledgling business with the requirements of business school. To face this challenge, I’ve already asked my partner at the project to take over management of all day-to-day operations, so that I can focus my time entirely on gaining my degree. Since I’ve reduced my involvement, I also won’t be in a position to make any key decisions before I graduate. I hope this will help me manage my time, get the most I can out of an MBA degree, and do what’s best for my business. Ultimately, this MBA program is what I need to take my business to the next level and it’s the best choice I can make to further my long-term business ambitions.
Scenario-based MBA Interview Questions
#12 Describe a situation when you were tolerant of an opinion different from your own.
Scenario-based questions or MBA behavioral interview questions are designed to draw out details of your actual experiences and help the interviewers judge how you would behave in different situations. Questions like this one are a chance for you to demonstrate your best qualities and connect them to your suitability for an MBA program.
How to answer:
Most people have experienced several incidents in their life where they encountered a different opinion and learned to deal with it. Selecting the best incident to talk about in your MBA interview is where it gets challenging. Just remember that with this question, interviewers want to know more about your communication and interpersonal skills. Teamwork and the ability to cooperate with others, are amongst the biggest assets in any MBA student. So, try to think of an incident that highlights these qualities in you. Structure your answer like this:
- Start by providing some context around the incident and describe the incident.
- Describe the two different opinions.
- Explain how you reacted to the different in opinion.
- Go over how you dealt with the situation.
- Finally, explain what lessons you learned that you can apply moving forward.
As the Marketing Manager at my firm, I work with a diverse team of professionals from different fields, including marketing executives, project planning experts, financial advisors, creative writers, graphic designers, and so on. Last year, we worked on a campaign to increase brand awareness and social media engagement for a new skincare vertical that our company had launched. Though I was the manager of the team, I invited suggestions from the entire team during our initial planning and brainstorming sessions, and one of our senior-most executives disagreed with my own plan of a short-term social media blitz targeting various platforms. Based on his years of experience with guerrilla marketing, he felt that was the way to go rather than our more traditional social media marketing tactics. He argued that it would be more cost-effective, with a greater outreach amongst our intended audience, and the time investment would be offset by the results. This didn’t align with my vision for the project, but I appreciated his logical arguments and the fact that his strategy was based on his years of success with similar campaigns, and I wanted to hear more from him. We decided to each work independently on a blueprint of our respective campaigns and present them to the team to get more ideas about what worked and what didn’t. Finally, we opted to combine the best aspects of each of our campaigns, resulting in a joint strategy that resulted in the biggest increase in quarterly company sales in 3 years! It was truly a lesson in how teamwork, cooperation, and compromise is a cornerstone of successful business practices. I learned that no matter what situation is at hand, the priority should always be to work together to arrive at the best result, not champion our own ideas at the cost of overall efficiency.
#13 You are new at a job, and you witness the mistreatment of a co-worker by a manager. What do you do?
A lot of MBA interviewers will ask you such ethical dilemma-based questions to assess your integrity and honesty as a person and to see how you react in high-pressure situations. Interviewers want to know well your personal values and morals align with the values of the school you’re applying to.
How to answer:
You can choose to answer this question either with a hypothetical scenario (i.e. how you WOULD react to such a situation) or you can talk about a similar incident that actually happened to you, if it exists. Either way, the important thing is to emphasize on your communication skills and your ability to manage difficult people. Don’t take a “side” in the incident; rather, try to talk about the situation in neutral terms, showing that you are fair-minded, empathetic, and collaborative.
I can answer this question with a real incident that happened to me during my first job as an IT Associate at ABC firm. In my first few months, I found the team friendly and cooperative, and didn’t personally have any issues with any of them. However, a few months down the line, I witnessed an upsetting incident between one of my co-workers, Lisa, and our manager, Martin. She was working on a new company-wide update and had made a minor error that resulted in an incorrect email setting being updated for a few people. It was a small mistake that wasn’t unusual for someone still in training, but it did require him to stay late with her to fix the problem. Martin lost his temper and, in front of all of us, yelled at her that she was always making mistakes and she should be fired if she couldn’t keep up. I was upset to witness such a disproportionate reaction, but before reporting it, I decided to investigate to see if this was just a one-off or part of a pattern that needed to be flagged. I found out that there had been a couple of similar incidents with some of my other team-mates as well, mostly when their actions required Martin to stay late or if they asked for additional time from Martin to assist with a project. I didn’t want to jump to conclusions, however, especially since everyone I spoke to emphasized that this behavior on Martin’s part had only started in the last few weeks. Before that, he had never given them any reason to complain. Then I remembered that Martin was currently going through a difficult divorce and was still working out custody with his ex-partner. I guessed that perhaps staying late would impact his time with his kids, and that combined with the stress of the divorce, is what made him react in that way to Lisa. While I felt that the behavior itself was unacceptable, I didn’t want to judge too harshly and take steps that could add more stress to an already delicate situation. Instead, since I had a good working relationship with Martin, I took him for a coffee one day and talked to him about how he was coping with his situation, and if there was anything we, as his team, could do to help him out. He mentioned that it was difficult for him to stay back late on certain days as he already had such limited time with his kids, and he didn’t like to always have to choose between work and family. We had a very productive discussion about how we, as a team, could manage our time and complete our tasks so as to ensure Martin could get back home on time for the relevant days, and later that day he apologized to Lisa for how he had spoken to her. He then shared the new plan with the team and thanked me for helping him figure out this situation in such a diplomatic way. This early incident helped me realize the importance of open communication, accountability, and compassionate policies in the workplace, elements I always try to cultivate in any team I am a part of.
Quirky MBA Interview Questions
There are certain questions that will most likely catch you by surprise during your MBA interview. These are the “quirky” or “off-beat” questions, the sole purpose of which is to test an applicant’s ability to think on their feet and answer creatively. And while they may seem illogical or random, your answers to these questions reveal something very important about your character.
Interviewers expect you to come prepared for the more commonly asked questions, such as the ones we listed above. The whole point of quirky questions is for the interviewers to catch you a little off-guard so they can gauge your natural thinking patterns, communication style, and get a glimpse into your inner world.
How to answer:
When you get a question like this, don’t panic. Remember that there is no “wrong” answer for such questions. For quirky questions, the most important thing is to focus on the “why” rather than the “what”. Let’s take an example of the question “If you were an animal, what would you be, and why?”. It doesn’t matter what animal you pick – picking a tiger doesn’t automatically get you more points than a mouse. What’s more important is explaining your reason for picking the animal and how you describe yourself, and how you make the connection between your business school ambition and the question.
#14 If you were an animal, what would you be, and why?
If I were an animal, I would be a fox. Foxes are known to be friendly, sociable creatures, and I count my interpersonal skills as one of my top strengths. Additionally, in many folk tales, the fox is the clever and wily one who often outsmarts the other animals via unconventional solutions to problems. I can relate to that as my professional and business philosophy is to always look for creative solutions to tough problems and not get too bogged down by how things have always been done.
#15 If you could have any superpower, what would you choose?
If I could have any superpower, I would choose the power to make things grow. I like to garden, but it can be challenging to cultivate some types of plants and the ability to encourage things to grow and be healthy would be helpful for that hobby. On a larger scale, if I was a global superhero rather than a super gardener, being able to make things grow would be hugely beneficial. I could help crops grow faster to feed the population, help trees regrow in deforested areas, or help endangered animals grow and reach adulthood, to name a few examples.
Writing an MBA personal statement? Watch this video for our tips:
45 More MBA Interview Questions to Practice With
Here are 45 more sample MBA interview questions to practice with, including questions from top business schools, such as:
- Harvard Business School
- Stanford Business School
- Kellogg School of Business
- Booth School of Business
- Berkeley Haas business school
- Stern school of business
- When did you decide to get an MBA?
- Tell me about a time when you led a team.
- What kind of people do you look forward to meeting at our school?
- Tell me about a time you stepped outside your typical role.
- Why did you pick your college major?
- If you hadn’t picked the major you had, what other one would you have gone with?
- Walk me through your resume.
- What kind of impression do you want to make on your industry or field?
- Talk about a team situation where differences existed between team members.
- Tell me about a time you had to pick yourself back up.
- Tell me about a time you worked in a team with a group of people from diverse backgrounds. What challenges did you face? Share some of the rewarding aspects of the experience.
- Tell me about a time you overstepped an authority.
- In your last performance review, what were three positive pieces of feedback your manager gave you?
- What is something you wish people knew about you, but you’re not sure that they do?
- Tell me about a time you faced a challenge at work and how you influenced the outcome.
- Tell me about a time when you didn’t agree with an idea. How did you work to reach a resolution?
- What would your 5 closest friends say about you? Why?
- How does a global viewpoint aid business management in today's environment, in your opinion?
- Tell me about a leadership experience.
- Describe a time when you lead a team and convinced someone to accept your ideas. Did anyone recognize your efforts?
- Tell me about a time when you had to take authority of a team.
- What is your leadership style?
- Tell me about a time you faced a disappointment.
- What do you like to do outside of work?
- Tell me about a defining moment in your life.
- Anything about yourself you wished you could change?
- What’s your biggest accomplishment—both work and outside work?
- What drives you?
- How would an MBA help you advance in your career?
- Why did you leave your most recent job?
- Tell me about a time when you pursued an initiative beyond my job authority.
- What clubs/activities would you get involved in at our school?
- Tell me about a time when you saw an opportunity that others didn’t.
- Tell us about something new you learned recently that shifted your worldview. How did it influence your behavior and/or actions?
- Tell me about a time when you failed to reach your goals.
- What specific abilities would you like to hone to achieve your post-MBA objectives?
- Describe a situation when, while leading a team, you failed. How did you react? What did you learn from this?
- Tell me about a time when you faced a roadblock in completing a project.
- Tell me about a time when you dealt with someone who was difficult. How did you handle that situation?
- How do you make the most of your resources?
- What sets you apart from other candidates?
- What would you do if you failed in to achieve your goals after graduating?
- What is the most pressing issue confronting your industry?
- What are the essential skills for successful management in your field?
- Why did you decide to change careers?
How to Prepare for an MBA Interview
First of all, if you made it to the stage where you have to worry about MBA interview questions, congratulations! This means the admissions committee recognized your potential and judged you as an excellent MBA candidate based on your previous experiences and achievements from your application components, including your MBA personal statement. That’s a big hurdle cleared! Now, you just need to focus on giving an excellent MBA interview performance to clinch that acceptance letter. Remember that at this stage, it’s a competition among equals. Every candidate who makes it to the interview round probably has comparable academic, professional, and extracurricular achievements, whether they come from the best undergrad business schools, Ivy Leagues, UC schools, or hold a non-business degree from a state school.
What are interviewers looking for in an MBA interview?
At this stage, the admissions committee already knows that you’re a great candidate on paper – through the interview, they want to make sure you’re also a great candidate in person. The interview is especially important for MBA program admissions because of the requirements of an MBA curriculum. The composition of an MBA cohort is extremely important in an MBA program, as many of the projects are team-based and classroom discussions are student-directed with professors being facilitators rather than traditional instructors. So, an MBA student’s communication skills, and what they bring to the class from their previous experiences, are particularly important to the overall program. MBA admissions committees want to ensure not only that you can get the most out of the MBA program, but also that your future classmates benefit from your presence in the class. MBA programs are looking for candidates who demonstrate superior communication and leadership skills, can work well with others, learn from their mistakes, draw upon their experiences to solve problems, and coherently discuss current events, especially related to business.
Working on your MBA statement of purpose? Here's a quick guide:
MBA Interview Format
The interview format varies based on the business school. Some schools may conduct video interviews while others conduct traditional in-person interviews with multiple interviewers. Most MBA interviews take 30 to 45 minutes and in that time, you may be asked as many as 20 or 30 questions! The questions can vary depending on the school in question and can also change from one year to the next.
Most MBA interview questions are designed to draw out answers about your passion for business, why you want an MBA, your past experiences, achievements, and failures, and what makes you a great candidate for this program. To learn more about what kind of MBA interview format you can expect, you should check the admissions website of every MBA program you’re applying to. Some even list commonly asked questions as a guide for prospective interviewees. Make sure you know exactly what to expect in the interview before you begin preparing for it.
MBA interview prep is different from creating your college essays or writing a CV for graduate school, where you can go over the content multiple times and only submit it when you’re ready. You don’t get a second chance to answer an interview question and some interview questions may intentionally catch you by surprise. Interviewers like to ask quirky questions that are designed to see how well you think on your feet. You have to be prepared to answer such out-of-left-field questions on the spot, without too many pauses, umms, and ahhs.
On the other hand, you can expect typical MBA interview questions commonly used by most business schools. You can’t prepare for every single question, but it’s important to have answering strategies for general question categories. You can definitely prepare for these question categories in advance by thinking through your answers and practicing in a mock interview setting. Though these questions may be worded a little differently depending on the school, if you prepare for questions in these general areas, you’ll be well-prepared to tackle all the variations.
Questions to ask your MBA program interviewers
Typically asked at the end of the interview, this question isn’t just about giving you an opportunity to find out more about the school or program. By testing your curiosity specifically about their school and program, the admissions committee also wants to make sure that you’ve thoroughly researched the program and the school. They want to ensure that you’ve thought about their specific program and what you hope to get from it. Applicants are often daunted by this question but it’s an incredible opportunity for you to get to know the program better. So make sure your questions count!
Take the time before the interview to think about what you want to know about the program, such as what they offer, specific ways they could help you, how they would value what you bring to the table, and so on. Remember not to ask questions the answers to which can be found easily from other sources, such as on a google search, their website, program brochure, etc. Also, while it’s an excellent idea to think out a list of at least 5-6 questions you want to ask them, if during the interview the question was already addressed, don’t bother asking it again! Pay attention to the interviewer and the interview experience and tailor your questions accordingly. You’ll simply be wasting their time and leave a poor impression if you ask already answered or inappropriate questions. It’s better to ask just 1 or 2 insightful questions than a large number of pointless questions. Ideally, you should ask no more than 2 or 3 questions.
The best questions are the big-picture questions that show that you’ve put some thought and research into this, and that give the interviewer a pause and make them think before they answer. Keep your questions open-ended and avoid yes-no questions since they won’t really spark a meaningful conversation. Try to start with your most meaningful questions that the interviewer might take longer to reply before you move on to the “procedural” questions pertaining to logistical details such as when the results of the interview will be posted, next steps (not already communicated to you or easily known) and so on.
Here are some questions you can consider asking your interviewers:
An excellent interview performance is a crucial part of getting into grad school, especially for an MBA candidate. The most impressive applicants can be rejected due to their inability to handle MBA interview questions. If you want to ensure you get that acceptance letter from your dream MBA program, make sure you research the commonly asked MBA interview questions, think deeply about your answers, and practice speaking in mock interview settings till you feel confident enough to handle anything they throw at you in the actual interview.
1. What are the most commonly asked MBA interview questions?
There are 30+ commonly asked MBA interview questions you can prepare for! This may sound like a lot to handle, but just remember that a lot of questions may overlap with each other. Typically, there are four traditional categories of questions you can expect: personal questions, personal experience questions, and questions about your interest in the MBA program, and scenario questions. Besides these, interviewers may also ask quirky and totally unique questions such as “If you were a tree, which tree would be?” or “If you could have any superpower, what would you choose?”. Finally, interviewers may also ask you questions about current events, or the impact of current events.
2. How can I perform well in an MBA interview?
If you’ve got to the interview stage, just remember, the admissions committee already thinks you’re an excellent candidate. You’ve met the basic requirements – now you need to back it up with a memorable interview performance. The key is to develop interview skills that can enable you to handle different types of questions and think deeply about the key qualities and experiences you want to highlight during your interview. It’s important to prepare well in advance for the interview, giving yourself enough time to thoroughly research and think through your answers to commonly asked MBA interview questions. You should also conduct several mock interviews before the actual interview to ensure you can communicate in a fluent, coherent, and efficient manner. While it’s natural to have some nerves before an MBA interview, too much anxiety can impact your interview performance. So, make sure you practice mindful breathing to get your nerves under control and ensure you can think quickly and answer coherently when asked unexpected questions.
3. What are admissions committees looking for in an MBA interview?
Admissions committees are looking for candidates with excellent communication and leadership skills. They want to see how well you interact and work with others, whether or not you can learn from your mistakes, and how you draw upon your experiences to solve problems and contribute to discussions. They are not looking for a simple rehash of your MBA resume, personal statement, application essays etc. Focus on providing deeper answers that highlight your suitability for business school, and creating meaningful connections between your previous experiences and passion for business.
4. How important is an MBA interview?
The MBA interview is extremely important. MBA programs typically provide a very student-focused curriculum, with a lot of group projects and student-led discussions. Therefore, admissions committees want to ensure that MBA cohorts are composed of students with excellent communication skills, who have a lot to contribute to the classroom, and can bring meaningful connections and experiences into the program. While the application helps them assess this to a certain degree, the interview is crucial in helping to determine the candidate’s suitability as a future member of their MBA cohort. Without an impressive MBA interview performance, your chances of getting an acceptance letter are greatly reduced.
5. How should I prepare for an MBA interview?
To prepare for an MBA interview, you need to first research the program you’re applying to. Find out the specific interview format they use, the commonly asked MBA interview questions, the school’s mission, and what they’re looking for from candidates. Next, think about your best qualities, previous experiences and achievements, as well as your unique passion for business, and connect it to the qualities the admissions’ committees are looking for. Think out the answers to all the commonly asked MBA interview questions but avoid memorizing answers.
You need to also be prepared for variations on the common phrasing of questions and should be able to use your existing knowledge to answer new question types. Finally, make sure you conduct several mock interviews to assess the gaps in your interview performance, improve your communication skills, and get comfortable with the interview format. With the right preparation and focus, you should be able to handle any kind of MBA interview question that comes your way.
6. How should I answer “Tell me about yourself” in an MBA interview?
For this question, prepare a well-structured, precise, coherent answer that covers the key experiences of your life so far, and conveys your passion for business. This should be your “elevator pitch”, a 2-minute summary of your history and what makes you unique. Don’t answer with dry facts and figures – try to connect your answer with your career goals and motivations and include 1 or 2 memorable details that the interviewer won’t easily forget.
7. How should I talk about my weaknesses in an MBA interview?
When discussing your weaknesses in an MBA interview, the important thing is to be sincere and focus on your growth. Don’t pick a weakness that will raise red flags, such as criminal tendencies. Explain how you handled your weakness in the past and how you plan to manage it in the future. Your answer should demonstrate self-awareness and the ability to honestly discuss self-criticism.
8. When should I start preparing for an MBA interview?
It’s very important to prepare in advance for your interview, and that especially applies to an MBA interview because of how crucial the interview is in the MBA admissions process. Ideally, you should start preparing at least four weeks in advance. Give yourself enough time to brush up on your knowledge of the MBA program and school you’re applying to, and think through your key achievements, skills, and experiences so you know what you want to highlight in the interview. Additionally, interview skills take time to develop, and you should conduct several mock interview sessions to ensure you’re comfort with the interview format and questions. Leaving this essential interview prep to the last minute can lead to an unsatisfactory interview performance where you’re not able to communicate the best side of yourself.
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