Congratulations on your interview invite from your top choice business school! You have proven yourself on paper, now it is time to go in there and convince them that you deserve that seat at their school in your own words. Here are 5 types of interview questions you will encounter and how to best answer them.
Tell me about yourself?
This is the most common opening question of all interviews. It comes in many different forms, including, “walk me through your resume” amongst others. You are an incredible human and professional proven by earning this interview spot. You however do not have to talk about everything you have done. This is an invitation to frame why you are sitting in this interview today. Draw your interviewer a map through the key moments in your professional and personal experiences that led you to your MBA decision.The best answers already start with what you are passionate about or the problem you want to solve in the world, walks your interviewer through why this matters to you and end with summarizing why MBA and why that school. You should be able to answer this question in under 3 minutes.
1. Questions that allow you to list things
There is a set of interview questions that are opportunities to list things. These range from why MBA, why a school, your strengths, weaknesses and favorite leadership qualities amongst others. Sometimes interviewers already ask you for a number, for instance, “tell me three things you consider to be your strengths?”. If not, then think of a few things when answering these questions.
Prepare at least three individual points to answer these questions.
Open your answer with already saying you will talk about three things to mentally prepare your interviewer
Bonus advice on why a school, our favorite answers give the trinity of answers: curriculum, extra curricular resources and community/culture. They are also specific naming real classes, professors, institutions and name dropping students from the school that you are talking about. Show that you have done the work to ascertain this is indeed the right school for you.
2. Tell me about a time...
Fancy walking down memory lane with your interviewer, but not so casually? You may know these questions as situational questions and they are testing who you are against the values of the school and how business school works. Common questions are around collaboration, conflict resolution, leadership and being a team player. A few things to consider when answering them.
Know the specific key values of your school and already prepare to tell stories along them.
Use the CAR format to structure your answer, Context, Action, Result.
Go the extra mile and talk about what you learnt and how you will apply this in business school
3. Left field questions
There are interview questions that seem like they are coming out of nowhere and look like they do not have anything to do with an interview. You may be asked about your favorite things/places, an opinion about a current event, trends in your industry, what you would do if you were a leader in a certain situation. Well, we are here to tell you that they have everything to do with the interview! They are testing if you are capable of critical thought and making solid arguments as you will have to do in business school. Best ways to tackle them? Get to the point quickly and always bring your answer back to lessons, why MBA and/or why the school you are interviewing for. Some interviewers may even challenge your answers; they can do this with any question by the way, but be prepared to defend your answer or change your mind if provided with new information.
4. Questions for your interviewer
Some people forget that they are in a two way conversation with an interviewer. Be attentive and look for opportunities to engage them during the interview. Your most explicit chance is at the end when they ask if you have any questions for them. Ask intelligent questions that are connected to their story. Use information like, what they said in their introduction to you and if you knew who they were before, what you researched about them beforehand. Turn a, “what was your favorite class in business school” question to “you said you now work in corporate strategy; what class was your favorite in this area in business school.” Let them talk about themselves and you will be more memorable to them after.
On a final note, always answer the questions directly. Most people get lost in setting up their answers but remember, especially in 30 minute interviews, context is the enemy of time.