One of the most dreaded parts of applying to business school is the MBA admissions interview. Many prospective students fear not having the right answers to tough questions.
The good news is that a successful MBA interview can be a great way to set yourself apart from other applicants. Most other applicants may have similar test scores and backgrounds, so creating a good impression during your interview can make you stand out.
Ready to ace your MBA interview?
Here are some tough interview questions to prepare for and how you can go about answering them.
Unexpected MBA Interview Questions
We looked through dozens of MBA interview questions for those that most people are not prepared to answer (and how you might go about preparing a strong response).
- Tell me about yourself
This question — or really, it’s more of a request — may seem easy, but sometimes people who are not prepared can ramble on without revealing anything important. This is a great opportunity to show your strengths and why you are better than other applicants.
Rather than talking about unrelated activities too much (like personal hobbies), try to focus on accomplishments and personal traits that will increase your chances of getting into business school. It’s fine to mention a few things that let the interviewer know who you are as a person, but keep in mind that the goal of answering this question is to present information that will increase your odds of admission. Make sure you can tie everything you say back to your business education in some form or another.
- Why should we admit you over other applicants?
If an interviewer asks this question, be prepared to reveal what makes you unique. Think about accomplishments and personal traits that make you stand out from other students. This could go beyond direct academic achievements to include your personal passions, milestones you’ve achieved in other areas of life and ways that your perspective is a unique addition to the class.
- Can you tell me about a time when you used your leadership skills to solve a problem (or lead a team)?
If an interviewer asks about leadership or teamwork skills, then they are looking for real-life examples that you are a leader. Think of stories that will show the interviewer that you have demonstrated skills in this area be it from school, work or other interactions. Don’t just give a quick snippet of your experience, but explain how you grew from it and why you shined as a leader.
- How would your supervisor and co-workers describe you? What would they say are your weaknesses?
Assessing yourself can be challenging. You will want to show yourself in a positive light, but at the same time appear honest and objective about your weaknesses.
Interviewers might ask this question to gain more insight into who you are as well as see how well you present yourself. Be confident, but not cocky when revealing your strong points.
Reveal your weaknesses in an honest way, but present them in a way that doesn’t make you look too weak. One way to reveal imperfection is to talk about a mistake you made and show that you’ve learned from it. You can also frame a weakness as something you’re strengthening through business education or as an opportunity to better contextualize your educational focus.
- Describe a time when you failed and how you overcame it.
Most MBA applicants focus on their positive traits and accomplishments, so questions asking about failure can be an unexpected challenge.
To answer this question, try to think of a failure that resulted in a learning experience and didn’t cause massive damage to another person or company. The interviewer will be interested in learning how you dealt with and managed stress handled pressure and overcame a difficult situation. How did you learn from your mistakes?
You can also take advantage of this question by showing you’re not afraid of failure or trying new things. This will show the interviewer that you are willing to take on challenges and get out of your comfort zone, even if a positive outcome isn’t guaranteed.
- How will you best utilize the resources we provide in our MBA program?
If an interviewer asks you this question, then they may be trying to see if you’ve done your homework. The interviewer is trying to see which students are most serious about attending their school.
To prepare for this question, take time to research what resources the MBA program provides and think about how you can utilize them. The MBA program might allow you access to resources that allow you to build your professional network or get financial assistance. Learn about what resources exist and think about how you can use them not just in a general way, but in an applied and specific manner.
- Tell me a time when you broke the rules. What were the results?
This question can be a trap as the interviewer might be looking for someone who doesn’t advocate breaking the rules. Successful MBA graduates often need to be able to conform to rules within the company that they work for.
To answer this interview question, you can mention that you are not much of a “rule breaker,” but believe in taking risks when it makes sense. You may consider telling a story when you bent the rules a little, but showed respect for authority and ultimately achieved a positive result.
- Do you have any questions for me?
Many interviewers like to end with this question, so be sure to have a list of questions prepared beforehand. Having smart questions about the MBA program will show the interviewer that you are genuinely interested in their school.
Approach this from a practical standpoint — what do you really want to know about the school? — as well as from a more reverential stance, perhaps diving into the history of the school or its impact on the local community.
How to Ace an MBA Interview
According to a study of over 10,000 applicants, about 37-74% of people who make it to the interview stage ultimately get admitted into an MBA program. Getting past the MBA interview is the last challenge for getting admitted into an MBA program.
The best way to ace your MBA interview is to prepare answers to frequently asked and obscure questions and rehearse the answers out loud until you are comfortable. A good interview is one of your best opportunities to set yourself apart from other applicants. For even better results, write your answers out to better commit them to memory.
Take the time to prepare and rehearse your answers so that you can get into your top MBA school. Try to think of answers that reveal your individuality, showcase your uniqueness and highlight your accomplishments.