The MBA Virtual Interview
For those MBA applicants invited to interview at their dream MBA program(s), congratulations! While some MBA programs interview all applicants, in most cases getting asked to interview is a sign that your application and profile are compelling, and the admissions committee can see a potential place for you in the upcoming class.
However, often that “place” can be lost during the MBA interview. This means adequate MBA interview preparation is key.
This year, MBA interviews continue to be largely virtual, adding another layer of complexity to an already challenging process.
To help MBA applicants nail the virtual MBA interview, Personal MBA Coach would like to share nine key tips.
1. Research your target school and the interview process
All programs handle the MBA interview process slightly differently. Some schools use alumni to conduct interviews while others have all applicants meet with an MBA admissions director. Most schools will conduct 1:1 interviews, but for some programs you should prepare for a 2:1 interview or even a group interview (in the case of Wharton).
Though fit is always important, some schools will direct their focus more to certain components of your application and background. Do your research on both the interview process and what questions you might expect, to help you prepare in advance.
2. Know your resume from top to bottom
Anything on your resume is fair game during an MBA interview and some top programs – for example, Harvard Business School – are known to probe deeply into your resume with their questions. This means you should be prepared to explain every bullet in detail.
3. Prepare 4-5 stories in advance
Personal MBA Coach advises candidates to write out answers to four or five key stories. We find that bulleting is most effective here. This way you can note the skills you want to highlight and will be prepared to pivot your stories as needed.
In general, you should be able to adapt these stories to cover most top questions. For instance, a story about stepping up in the office could be applicable to a question about a time you had an innovative idea OR a question about a time you helped a coworker. Try to assign your stories to possible questions in advance.
We recommend breaking down each story into situations, actions, and results and limit the amount of time you spend setting up the scene. Instead, focus on the main steps you took and how you excelled in each example.
4. Test your virtual environment in advance
While most applicants are now familiar with virtual meetings and Zoom calls, it is important to practice your set-up with a friend or family member in advance of the interview to make sure the equipment is staged properly and functioning. You should also note the exact location of your camera or webcam to ensure you are making proper eye contact. Keep in mind, this camera is often higher than standard eye level. Finally, limit the use of virtual backgrounds. Depending upon the video capabilities of your system, virtual backgrounds can place a strain on the system and make either the person’s head or the background fade in and out.
5. Know why you are interested in the school
Being able to explain why you want to attend a particular program is a pivotal part of the MBA interview. Be sure that you are prepared to talk about the unique aspects that drew you to each school.
You should demonstrate a clear understanding of the program and be ready to discuss how you will add value on campus. Business schools want to know how you will make your unique mark!
6. Practice articulating your MBA goals
Whether or not you wrote about your goals in your MBA essays, be prepared to clearly and concisely explain what you hope to accomplish in your career, why you are interested in this path, and how you will be successful. If you need help articulating your MBA goals, check out Personal MBA Coach’s blog here.
As you share these goals, make sure you are expressing excitement.
7. Practice emoting
It is crucial to emote a bit more on virtual interviews since you do not have the nonverbal cues you would have in person. This includes modulating how quickly you are speaking, pausing at the right time, smiling and expressing excitement. While using hand motions can be great, avoid too much movement, which can be even more distracting on virtual interviews.
8. Remember the basics
Treat a virtual interview the same way you would an in-person interview – dress as you would if you were going in person (business formal is the safest interview attire), dedicate a quiet and clean space with good lighting in which to conduct your interview and, of course, be on time.
9. Come prepared with questions
This advice should not be a surprise and arriving equipped with appropriate questions is crucial for any type of interview. Ask only positive questions. While you may have concerns about a particular program, save any negative questions or concerns for admit events. You should also avoid asking questions that could easily be answered online. Instead, you can either ask about the interviewer’s personal experience, ask about specific elements of the program that align with your background or learning style, and/or home in on cultural elements that might not be easily found online.
About Personal MBA Coach
Founded by a Wharton MBA and MIT Sloan graduate who sits on the Association of International Graduate Admissions Consultants Board of Directors, Personal MBA Coach has been guiding clients for 15 years and is consistently ranked #1 or #2 by leading sources including Poets & Quants.
We help clients with all aspects of the MBA application process including early planning, GMAT/GRE/EA tutoring, application strategy, school selection, essay editing, and mock interviews. Our team includes former M7 admissions directors and former M7 admissions interviewers. Last cycle, our clients earned more than US$6.5M in scholarships!