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How to Ace Your MBA Admissions Interview

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How you perform in your interview will often determine whether you’re admitted.

The MBA admissions interview is arguably one of the most nerve wracking aspects of applying to business school and can make or break your chances of acceptance. Applications that are nearly perfect on paper, can fail to remain competitive because of the admissions interview. And, the reverse is possible when marginal applicants rise to the top through a stellar interview.  Interviews are every bit as important as GMAT scores, past academic performance, or letters of recommendation. 

Business schools place special emphasis on the interview because so much of the MBA experience depends on the composition of the classroom. Projects are usually team-based, and professors lead discussions rather than just lecture. Admissions professionals are tasked with finding candidates who work well together in this environment and add value in both the classroom and the workplace. Preparation is key if you want to unlock the door to a successful admissions interview. Below are five tips to help you succeed: 

  1. Do your research. Be prepared to clearly articulate your reasons for wanting to pursue a graduate business degree. Research the program and know your desired career path. Admissions professionals expect you to describe your motivations for applying to school and, more specifically, your interest in their program. Knowing the school and admission committee’s approach or format for the admissions interview can go a long way in helping you anticipate questions and prepare answers. 
  2. Practice! Most interviews take about 30-45 minutes with time at the end for questions. It seems obvious, but practicing for your interview will help you come across more polished, concise, and organized. It is usually clear which candidates haven’t spent much time rehearsing before an interview, as their responses to questions are either long-winded, lack focus, or are short sentences that offer little substance or information. Practice and prepare by reviewing commonly asked questions
  3. Dress to impress. Your interview starts before the first words are even spoken. Dress professionally, be on time, and smile! First impressions matter, so treat the admissions interview as you would a job interview. Whether you’re interviewing with an admissions committee member, a current student, or an alumnus, be sure to present your best professional self.  
  4. Keep it real. Your admissions interview is a chance to market yourself to admissions staff so focus on your authentic, honest story. Know your unique value proposition and how to articulate it. Communicate your strengths and experience, the type of career you’re seeking, and how you think an MBA will help get you there.  
  5. Be thoughtful. Interviews almost always end with time for questions. Use this time to showcase your genuine interest in and knowledge of the program by asking specific questions about program experiences and culture. Don’t ask questions that can be easily found online, such as the cost of tuition or credit requirements. Ask questions that will truly help you determine if the program is a good fit for you. If you have many questions, keep in mind that these can be addressed in a follow-up email. And always send a thank you email within the next day or two.