Here’s a classic MBA admissions interview question that gives many candidates pause: Which other schools are you applying to?
Every school wants to know they’re your first choice. So how to answer this tricky interview question?
First, you want to demonstrate sound reasoning for why you’re applying to other programs in the context of why this school is still number one, says Fortuna Expert Coach Karen Hamou, CBS alum and former Deloitte recruiting lead.
Let’s say you’re interviewing with Columbia. Consider contextualizing your response in this way:
“Given my interest in doing my MBA in NYC, I am also applying to Stern. While Stern could also provide me with a strong finance education, CBS remains my #1 choice due to its unique value investing program.”
Also, know that underneath this question is a subtle assessment of your depth of knowledge of a program’s values, culture and unique value proposition. “Of course, they also know that you’re applying to other programs – they expect that and it’s a sensible thing to do. But to win their acceptance, show them the love,” says Fortuna Expert Coach Amy Hugo, former London Business School manager of admissions and recruitment, in her article on tailoring your b-school application. “This means going the extra mile to prove you understand a school’s unique culture and values, and that you’ve given considered thought both to how you’ll contribute to their community what you hope to gain from it.”
In her recent article for Poets&Quants, How to Prepare for Tough Interview Questions – Part 1, Fortuna Director Judith Silverman Hodara explores some of the toughest questions our clients have recently faced, and why you can expect them in the admissions interview. She also spotlights three types of questions you might receive that you may not be able to answer, and how to remain poised and confident as you respond.
As interview season gets underway, stay tuned for more specific tips and insights to help you prepare to handle the tough and tricky questions with poise and confidence.
Fortuna Admissions is composed of former admissions directors and business school insiders from 13 of the top 15 business schools.