6 Unexpected Questions You May Get Asked in Your MBA Admissions Interview

We continue today with another post in our MBA interview series. When interviewing, applicants are generally prepared for the obvious questions, but what about the tougher questions?  It would behoove you to ponder some of the following questions, which have been known to trip up even the most prepared applicants:

1.   What has been a difficult situation when you had to be an intermediary?

How you handle challenges is important to business schools.  They like to know your thought process and why/how you make decisions.   Be sure to reveal these qualities in the example you provide.

2.   What is a value that defines you and a time when that value has been compromised?

Again, the school in asking this question is trying to get to who you are and throwing a bit of a curve by making you recall a time when you had to take an ethical stand.  Questions like these can require a bit of thoughtful recall, so coming up with an answer on the spot during an already stressful interview might be difficult.  Ask yourself when you have had to make a tough call, or seen something at work (or outside of work?) where you felt your scruples were challenged.

3.   What is your definition of diversity and a time when you’ve had to overcome any related challenges?    

Business Schools are all about diversity because they figured out long ago that the world is a big place and if you are not weaving in varied perspectives into solving business problems, you are leaving profits on the table.  Schools are looking for either something that you offer to make the class more diverse, or at least a sensitivity and appreciation for a diverse work environment.  Remember your class will likely be 30-40% international students.

4.   If you had one minute in front of the admissions committee to state your case, what would you say?

Everyone should have an elevator speech for why you should get into b-school.  Think of the top three most compelling reasons why you are ready.

5.   What would you say are your guiding principles?

Business schools are on a mission in this process to get to know you personally—what makes you tick, how you make decisions.  But don’t just list adjectives for this one…share an anecdote or defining moment behind your value system and why it is meaningful.

6.   Imagine it’s two hours before a group project is due and you are in charge of assembling the paper but discover a MAJOR logic flaw and need to make changes but cannot get a hold of any team members, what would you do?

Ahhh… the classic stress question.  Sometimes b-schools will put you on the spot, but know that the purpose is less to see what you will say and more to see how you react under pressure.  Can you think on your feet?  Do you make things up or admit when you don’t know something?

While it’s impossible to predict all the difficult questions which may come up in an interview, perhaps practicing with these will help get your mind oriented towards thinking more deeply about how your experience can be leveraged towards a positive case for admission in the interview.

Good luck!   I will wrap up the interview series in the next post — don’t miss it!

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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.

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