How to Show Fit During the Interview Process at Kellogg

Kellogg School of Management

If you have received an interview invite to Northwestern University’s prestigious Kellogg School of Management, then congratulations! Kellogg has historically been known as a program that really focuses on admitting “real people,” and thus, is one of the few top MBA programs that strives to interview every candidate. The program has long been known for its strong student community and this thorough MBA interview process goes a long way in determining if potential candidates can make the cut in this area.

Hopefully, you have already conducted tons of research to prepare yourself for the big day. You know the ins and outs of the school’s academic programs, have a good handle of the recruiting advantages, and even have a comprehensive list of the top extra-curricular activities you’d like to lead and the life around campus.  Demonstrating how much you know about the Kellogg community, in addition to the school’s courses, clubs, and culture, will help convince your interviewer of your passion and commitment to the MBA program. Like most admissions committees, the Kellogg admissions office would prefer to offer slots to candidates who are most likely to confirm their attendance once offered. Subconsciously, your interviewer would feel better when you validate her choice of being affiliated with the Kellogg MBA program, too. This will also help show respect for the time she is investing in your MBA admissions process. Thus, make sure to spend time and effort knowing more about Kellogg and preparing how to present this within the flow of the interview process. In addition to these factors, understanding the importance of fit at Kellogg is critical in identifying what the program looks for in potential candidates and how you can best position yourself for Kellogg interview success. Let’s examine some key ways you can showcase fit to your Kellogg MBA admissions interviewer:

Intellectual Ability
This is business school, after all. Kellogg is looking for the best and the brightest, so it is important to project that you can hang academically, as well as bring a diverse point of view to the classroom. Utilizing professional anecdotes here can certainly do the trick, but the structure and style of your communication can also go a long way here. Aside from sharing achievements at school and at work, communicating in an organized and structured way rather than rambling along would greatly help. Make it easier for the interviewer by listing and recapping key points, such as “the 3 biggest reasons I want to do my MBA at Kellogg…”. Invest time practicing yourself or even better with a partner (you can also consider hourly Veritas Prep admissions consulting packages to help focus on this) to deliver expected responses to prompts, such as why an MBA at Kellogg, your key strengths, and post-MBA goals.

Problem Solving Skills
Kellogg is looking for problem solvers! Whether in your personal or professional past, the school is looking for the type of people who can not only take on a challenge but also solve one. As a Kellogg MBA, you will be expected to solve some of the most challenging global problems in business, so showcase your track record here. For extra points, highlight instances where you solved problems in a group setting.

Demonstrating intellectual curiosity and being up to date on general developments, especially in your area of interest, would also help. Being able to discuss trends, opportunities and challenges in your industry would help you get started. As a preparation for your  Kellogg interview, you may do thought exercises on how you can imagine how these would develop in the future, or how additional resources would help solve these problems. Showing your ability to thinking bigger than yourself, enthusiasm to work on solutions would help show your fit for the Kellogg MBA program.

Leadership Experience
Although the Kellogg School of Management has long been known as a top business school that emphasizes teamwork, leadership at the school is equally important. Focus specifically on your individual contributions as you regale the interviewer with your leadership experiences. Keep in mind, particularly for younger candidates, these experiences do not need to be limited to the professional side. Share your most impactful leadership experiences whether they are social, academic, or professional.

Be ready with a good mix of examples drawing from various projects, roles, and also across experiences outside of the work environment. Showing a habit of leadership by actively engaging in causes outside the workplace would also help. Providing substantiation by reviewing information such as revenue driven, market share gained, hours saved, and number of people impacted make your contributions stand out more. However, make sure to mention how you were able to get people to work together and not come off as having done everything yourself. For the Kellogg MBA interview, the admissions committee would want to see your potential as a senior leader or CEO bringing people together towards a common goal.

Values and Motivations
Kellogg is looking to admit people, so don’t be afraid to share personal aspects of who you are and what you value. A large part of your evaluation will be whether your personality and vibe can fit in at Kellogg, so don’t try to be anything other than yourself. Reflecting and articulating introspective questions such as your personal values and motivations will help prepare you for this. Know why you made the decisions you have made, and what drives your goals. You may even share personal anecdotes and epiphanies that got you on this track. 

Extra-Curricular Activities
The Kellogg MBA is built on engagement, and as such, the school is seeking candidates who have shown a track record of engagement in the past as this signals a likelihood of being similarly engaged at Kellogg, and later on as an alum. Clearly articulate how you have engaged yourself in the past, as well as how you plan to engage yourself in the future as a Kellogg MBA. Be specific here, and make sure you have more than one example of your engagement goals at the school itself.

To get to the point where you can be so specific, research what goes on with your selected activities, talk with Kellogg MBA participants who have been there, or even attend some yourself, if possible. Check with the Kellogg admissions office for a schedule of campus visits you may join; this is usually posted on the Kellogg MBA official website. This will help you share your interests with confidence and authenticity during your Kellogg admissions interview. Knowing the day-to-day student lives around the campus would also help you identify extra-curricular activities you can engage in. If a visit is not possible, connect with Kellogg alumni and students, or browse through blogs and vlogs. This would help you visualize and share the activities you are most excited about. It could also be a good idea to research on Exchange Programs that Kellogg offers and articulate why this would be a great fit for you. You may add activities outside of Kellogg as a key differentiator as to why you want to attend the Kellogg MBA program compared to similar ones. This would help convince your interviewer that the Kellogg MBA is definitely your top choice.

Interpersonal Skills
The ability to work with and lead others is core to all aspects of thriving in the student community at Kellogg. Although this may be the last criteria shared, it may actually be the most important. Don’t be afraid to include examples of how you have engaged with others in all aspects of your life, but remember, Kellogg will have a discerning eye for those inauthentic in this aspect of the evaluation. Also, how you carry yourself in person will be another key indicator if you have what it takes to join the Kellogg community, so keep this in mind.

How you talk about your colleagues, clients, and counterparts will provide insights into your personality and your ability to build relationships. If your work experience leans strongly towards individual contributions, share involvement with more team-oriented and group activities. For example, if you are active in both tennis and basketball, feature basketball more and how much you have fun winning (and even losing) with your team, or when you share your passion for travelling, share the thrills of hiking with a group. Presenting yourself in a friendly and open manner would also help demonstrate your interpersonal skills. Even as you prepare your key points, be sure to actively listen to, be interested in, and build rapport with your Kellogg interviewer.

Follow these tips so that, come interview day, you will be able to breeze through Kellogg’s interview process and put yourself one step closer to that MBA. General MBA interview tips are also available for free with the Veritas Prep MBA blogs. If you need personal attention to save you time and stress, work with a Veritas Prep consultant who can share his experiences at Kellogg and distill valuable lessons learned from preparing MBA candidates such as yourself for the Kellogg MBA interview.

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