How will it work? Interviews are by invitation only and are held on campus, in key cities internationally, and, occasionally, by Skype. The MIT Sloan admissions committee conducts nearly every the interview themselves, although they employ professionals to conduct some of the interviews in key cities. They do not have students or alumni handle any interviewing tasks. The focus of this experience is the Behavioral Event Interviews, based on the idea that past behavior is a reliable indicator of future responses in similar situations. As with the application essay questions, the interview will focus on specific experiences in recent years and on what applicants said, felt, and did in each instance.
Non-blind interviewers. Unlike at most elite business schools, the interview process is not “blind”; interviewers review applications prior to the interview, and it is not unusual for them to ask additional questions about application materials and essays. The admissions committee is interested in learning about what makes candidates tick—what motivates them, what guides their decisions and actions, and what their passions are. Sometimes the result of this is a greater emphasis on feelings, thought processes, and some of the softer competencies than one might find in other business school interviews. Sloan offers the same advice as we do for answering interview questions: Use the Situation-Action-Results (SAR) method. Present the situation (S), discuss what actions (A) you took to achieve the result, and then summarize the results (R), or the impact, of those actions.
What will they ask? Every candidate is different, so interview questions will vary as well, with no one standard set of questions for applicants. The admissions committee will use the interview to learn more about candidates and fill in any gaps that they might have based on what they have already learned from the application. It is not uncommon for the interview to start with some general background questions, such as asking that you walk through your resume and note what you did in each role. If you have written about a particularly unique interest or experience in your application, they might probe more deeply to learn more.
What are they looking for? Behavioral questions in the interview usually come in the form of “Tell me about a time when you ______.” Here, they are asking you to identify a very specific experience or event (for example, a time when you had to convince a group or another person, a time when you were under a lot of pressure, or a time when you had to make a decision with limited information). Again, it will help to have practiced describing your experiences broken down into the situation, action, and results. You should be prepared to discuss the situation in detail since the interviewers usually drill down to learn more specific information. Even if the interviewer doesn’t specifically ask for such details, proactively prepare for and offer answers to the following questions: What were you thinking and feeling at the time? What information did you consider that impacted your decisions? What action did you take, and what was the impact?
It’s not an interrogation. Interviews can be nerve-wracking, but it helps to remember that the admissions committee is never going to try to trick you or pummel you with tough questions. They are genuinely trying to learn more about you and how you might fit into the program and community. Most people come out of MIT Sloan interviews feeling like they had a pleasant and interesting conversation with the admissions officer.