Go back

Questions to ask to nail your MBA interview

Katie Schenk - October 14, 2019

The questions you should ask at an MBA interview

Remember the elation you felt when you received an interview request?

Surely that was followed with a combination of anticipation and dread. This is the make-or-break moment for many applicants. The last thing you want to do is put your foot in your mouth or stammer through incoherent responses.

Different schools mean different MBA interviews

Every interview you have is going to be different. Each school has different expectations from this step in the admissions process. And, they have diverse ways of determining who they want to be a part of the alumni in a few years.

You may expect a committee to interview you as this is the most traditional avenue. But, it really depends on each school. You’ll find this at MIT Sloan, for example. But, at Columbia, you’ll interview with that school’s alumni (and you have an opportunity to decide which one).

A similar process occurs for INSEAD interviews. If you’re selected for the interview stage at INSEAD, you’ll need to prepare for two alumni meetings in your home country (that varies, of course, based on the availability of interviews in your neck of the woods).

On the other hand, Wharton invites you to a nerve-wracking “Team Based Discussion” (TBD)There’s simply no way to prepare for these different settings in the same way, and therefore the questions to ask in the MBA interview will differ.

How to prepare for MBA interviews

Once you know the format your top-choice business schools use for interviewing potential MBA candidates, you can prepare for that interview. 

The best way to begin your preparation is to consider the MBA interview questions to ask, as well as questions you’ll receive and tactics that are often used. Specifically, pay attention to core questions and prepare yourself to answer just about anything.

MBA interview questions: Know the core questions

Throughout your application process, each admissions team is trying to establish that you have a plan for your life and that it’s rather specific. 

According to Holden Bonwit, a Prodigy Finance-funded student who received an MBA from the University of Oxford’s Saïd Business School, you need to prove to them “that you as an applicant are going to complete a beautiful puzzle in this lifetime. But one piece that is missing is the [Oxford] MBA; there is no piece that can replace it, and you know exactly where it goes.”

With that in mind, take a look at these core questions that another SBS candidate summed up perfectly. Nikolay Kobzev suggests that you prepare to answer these MBA interview questions:

  • Why MBA? (Do you know what you want to achieve in this life?)
  • Why our business school? (Can we help you to achieve your goals?)
  • Describe your leadership style. (Will you contribute to our school?)
  • Give me an example on how you work in cross-functional teams. (Will you be able to study with classmates who have completely different professional backgrounds?)

Although you may suffer from a bit of stage fright and nerves, you should already have these answers at the forefront of your mind. Without them, your application would never have been complete.

Be prepared for anything

Business school is about preparing business leaders for just about anything. And, if you’ll make it through this stage of the eliminations, then you should be ready to answer just about anything. 

You could be asked about “the challenges of maritime shipping and the influence of possible future oil shortages,” as Pascal Hofmann, another SBS candidate, was. The territory of questions is infinitely vast, and you may want to spend some of your preparation hours in front of the nightly world news.

The most important aspect will always be that you remain genuine throughout the time that you have. But, according to Denis Shamanin, who received his MBA from the European School of Management and Technology (ESMT) in Berlin, it never hurts to get to know the admissions team when you visit the campus before submitting your application. 

It might be a little late for that if you’re holding an interview invitation in your hand, but you’ve still got time to consider the core MBA interview questions and familiarise yourself with current events. And so you should; after all, not everyone gets an invitation.

Questions to ask in an MBA interview

The MBA questions you ask at the end of the interview are just as important as your responses to the questions asked of you. They demonstrate your interest and motivation as much (if not more) than any answer in the interview.

And, not asking questions subtlety tells your interviewers that you’re not all that interested in their programme. 

And, although you need to be prepared for anything in your interview, you shouldn’t plan to go off the cuff when it comes to your MBA interview questions. You want to prepare them carefully.

What not to ask during your MBA admissions interview

To begin with, there are plenty of MBA interview questions that you must avoid during your interview. These range from personal to obscure and asking any of these questions could produce undesired results:

  • General questions: If you can find the answer to your question online or in a brochure, you’re way off the mark with your question. Admission teams want to see that you’ve dug deeper.
  • Personal questions: You can ask your interviewer how she would define the school and some of her opinions, but you can’t ask anything that crosses a personal line. You also can’t ask what your chances are. If you do, your prospects are likely to plummet.
  • Unrelated questions: If you’re planning to pursue a finance specialisation and everything in your application supports that, don’t ask questions regarding classes or professors outside your focus.

The MBA interview questions you should be asking

Remember that your interview is not really a test. The school is looking for reasons to accept you.

At this point, the admissions team wants to see that you are as vivacious and motivated as suspected - and that you’re still keen on their programme. 

The first part of your interview is about proving that you’re genuine and that your essays and documents accurately represent the person you are. 

The questions to ask in an MBA interview are meant to show your interviewer that you want to be a part of their programme. Here’s what you should ask to demonstrate just that:

  • School assets: Feel free to ask what the interviewer thinks are the school’s greatest assets or benefits. But, make sure you ask what the drawbacks are too – and what future students can do to help transform challenges into programme strengths.
  • Ask for advice: You can ask for advice on making the most of your time at their school if you’re accepted. This is always a good question because it gives you both something to think about.
  • Campus life: When you inquire about specific buildings, facilities or activities it shows that not only are you picturing yourself on campus, but also being actively engaged in student life. (But, remember not to ask anything that you could learn from the website!)
  • Research and faculty: Asking about specific initiatives in your field and how you can become involved shows that you’re really excited about their educational content and faculty.

Finally, don’t forget to ask about the best person to speak to in the future if you have specific MBA questions if you are accepted into the programme. Remember too, that you only have a limited amount of time, so be sure you keep your questions succinct and pertinent.

And now? Off to the mirror for some practice.

Want more Study Abroad advice?

Making the decision to study a masters abroad is a big deal. Sign up here to get help from preparation to graduation.

Prodigy Finance Ltd is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

Post updated for accuracy and freshness on October 14, 2019. Originally published on December 9, 2016.


Related Articles

Sites to help study abroad

Study Abroad: 8 Links to Help You Get There

Prodigy Finance Ambassador Riona Rooplal - June 17, 2020

Coming from a 3rd world country, my journey to pursue a top MBA in Europe has been an interesting... Continue reading

Amaka

Student stories: 5 tips on how to succeed at B-School

Prodigy Finance Ambassador Amaka Ndubisi - May 07, 2020

Regardless of the duration - whether you take a two-year or a one-year MBA program - the B-school... Continue reading

Riona grenoble3

Surviving lockdown by a one year MBA student

Prodigy Finance Ambassador Riona Rooplal - May 07, 2020

I needed to move my career to the next level. My dream was to always obtain my one year MBA but... Continue reading

To binary?encrypted params=eyjiaw5hcnlfawqioijkodvjzgyyzmi1mmjhnjbklze2ytaxmznkzwqxny9qcm9kawd5x0zpbmfuy2vfqw1iyxnzywrvcl9irumuslbhiiwib2jqx2lkijoizdg1y2rmmmzintjiytywzcisinryyw5zzm9ybwf0aw9ux2rlzmluaxrpb24ionsiagvpz2h0ijoxntusindpzhroijo0mdasimzpdci6imnyb3aifx0%3d

An international student’s guide to living in France

Prodigy Finance Ambassador Riona Rooplal - April 21, 2020

I’m originally from South Africa, but today I live happily in Grenoble in southeast France. It... Continue reading

Follow us


Google play Apple