Top Ten Tips for the MBA Behavioral Interview

If you have been invited to interview at any or all of the schools on your list, congratulations!  Now you must begin preparing for a memorable and acceptance-worthy performance.

1.       Upon receiving the invitation, schedule the interview as soon as possible. This will enable you to avoid scheduling conflicts and select the time of day when you have the most energy.

2.       Read all you can about the school. If possible, schedule a full visit prior to the interview, which often will include a tour, class observation, and conversations with current students. Additionally, talk to current or former students already in your network to gain insight on the interview process and other aspects of their MBA experience.

3.       Review your application and think through how you will coherently explain your path to this point, as well as your decision-making and most meaningful experiences at each step. You will likely have some introductory question(s), which will require a three-minute elevator-pitch response, as well as several other questions that will require you to illustrate your points regarding such things as your ability to thrive in a team-based environment, etc., with specific examples from your work experience. 

4.       Be able to thoroughly explain why the school is the perfect intersection of where you’ve been and where you want to go. Elaborate on specifics, such as courses, professors, and extracurricular activities that make sense given your past experiences, interests, and achievements, as well as future plans. Remember, though, depth is better than breadth.  We would rather you explain at length one or two specifics that really set that school apart for you, than briefly mention of 7-10 attributes.

5.       Be prepared to weave into your responses what you will be able to offer the school. Make it clear how your experiences and interests, personal and professional, will benefit the school and create a stronger, more diverse MBA class and alumni base.

6.       Think through your career successes and failures and consider what you learned from both. Especially when answering a question regarding a failure, it is vital to spend only 20 percent of the response covering the situation. The rest should be devoted to action you took to prevent similar failures going forward and what you’ve learned as a result.

7.       Determine if there are any red flags in your application materials, and, if so, craft a response that addresses the issue without making excuses.  For example, if asked about the ‘C’ you received in calculus sophomore year, make mention of those specific areas in your transcript and post-baccalaureate experience that are more indicative of your ability to compete in a rigorous academic environment.  

8.       Stay current on domestic and international news. The Economist is a good, wide-reaching source for this. You will also want to be aware of any news related to your current company, industry and desired career path as these are great topics for an interviewer to draw from.  Setting up google alerts for key phrases related to your company and industry will help.

9.       Prepare three questions for the end of the interview, which will show your knowledge of and enthusiasm for the school.

10.   Compose a hand-written thank you note on high quality stock, and snail mail it to your interviewer. In the note, thank them for their time, reiterate your interest in the school, mentioning a specific or two, and if you can, make note of something memorable you spoke about during the interview.