We always get asked what kinds of questions to expect from interviewers, so I have compiled an introductory list of eleven which you might hear as you sit in various b-school interview sessions as well as what they are “really” asking:
1. Walk me through your resume
This is an opportunity to highlight valuable experience that will be useful to your classmates.
2. Tell me about yourself
This is a chance to be personal—they want to know who you are—what makes you tick. Make sure you tell them about personal things and not just professional things, and for goodness sake, show don’t tell. In other words, convey your answer with stories or examples.
3. How do your coworkers describe you?
This is a very thinly veiled way to ask what are your strengths? Hint: give strengths which will be perceived as valuable both as a student and a professional.
4. What is your biggest failure or greatest challenge?
They want to know what you have learned and will ascertain your maturity level therefrom. If you haven’t failed at anything, it’s likely you haven’t garnered enough experience to go to b-school.
5. What constructive criticism have you received from your boss?
This is a thinly veiled way to ask what are your weaknesses? Hint: give weaknesses which will be remedied by two years of business school, not personal or fatal personality flaws.
6. How do you define a good leader?
In other words, what is your personal leadership style? Be prepared to give examples from your own leadership experience or from someone you admire.
7. How do you define a good team member?
No right or wrong answers here, but being able to speak to specific examples of when you worked well on a team is a great way to approach this question. Business school will be mostly working with a team of some sort. Thinking of a time when teamwork was better than doing it yourself is not a bad thing to ponder prior to interviewing.
8. Share an experience when you were out of your comfort zone.
Business schools like to accept candidates whom they feel can hold up under pressure and make decisions without complete information. Demonstrating this with stories from your career journey will help them see you have real potential.
9. What was the most significant event that made you the way you are now?
Again, no wrong answers here, but the best answers will be sharing a story or unique experience you have had or encounter with someone you have known which made an indelible impact on your life.
10. Why an MBA?
Hint: it’s not just so you can make more money. Go deeper, then ask yourself if someone else could say the same thing. If yes, then go deeper still until your answer is unique to you.
11. How will you contribute to the class?
This is a good chance to talk about what you bring to the table—everyone must bring something of value to their classmates, so this is another area to speak to your greatest strengths, but this time, ones which your colleagues would specifically find useful. Remember, most of your classmates will not be coming from your industry or job function, so skills which may seem mundane or common to you might be less so from a different perspective. Also be familiar with what you will contribute outside the classroom. Knowing some specific clubs or extracurricular offerings of that particular school will demonstrate good due diligence skills.
Be on the lookout for more questions in the next post.
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Scott Bryant has over 25 years of professional post undergraduate experience in the entertainment industry as well as on Wall Street with Goldman Sachs. He served on the admissions committee at the Fuqua School of Business where he received his MBA and now works part time in retirement for a top tier business school. He has been consulting with Veritas Prep clients for the past six admissions seasons.