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You’ve been invited to interview – congratulations! You now have greatly improved your chances of getting in, and now is the time to prepare with gusto. Even if you’re confident about your interview skills, you have a short window to impress, so you need to focus on the essentials, get to the point quickly and prepare to adapt to various MBA interview styles.
If you’re feeling nervous, you’re in good company – many applicants find the MBA interview the most stressful part of the entire process. Our team has conducted thousands of real admissions interviews worldwide. Build your skills and confidence with our invaluable insights and coaching, and learn how to make the best possible impression during your interview.
Director / Senior Expert Coach
|TRADITIONAL INTERVIEW PREP
“Tough interview questions aren’t motivated by schadenfreude,” says Fortuna Co-Founder Judith Silverman Hodara, former Wharton Acting Director of Admissions. That said, Judith admits to throwing a curveball question to shake an overly rehearsed candidate from their script or to deepen the conversation.
In her timeless article on how to approach 10 tough MBA interview questions, Judith writes, “the purpose of the interview is to get a stronger sense of who you are and how you think, your authenticity and professional presence is key.” And while that may be the main purpose of the interview, the format and focus varies enormously from one school to the next. In terms of what to expect, start off by learning who is running the interview.
Tops schools such as Stanford GSB, INSEAD, Columbia, and Kellogg have their alumni conduct admissions interviews, while schools such as UCLA Anderson and Yale SOM assign second year students to the task. Alumni and student interviews are typically held “blind” meaning that the interviewers are only provided with a copy of your resume, not your full application. But there are the exceptions, such as INSEAD, that provide the full application to alumni interviewers and allow candidates to supply their essays as well (if you so choose).
Among the M7 schools, Harvard Business School and MIT Sloan are the outliers as members of their admissions board and staff members, not alumni, interview candidates. As Fortuna’s Karla Cohen, former HBS Associate Director explains in her article on how to ace the HBS interview, “whether you do your HBS Interview in person or over zoom, expect a seasoned interviewer who has read your entire file and prepared a set of Harvard Business School interview questions with you specifically in mind.”
You put a lot of time and energy into your application to business school and now you’ve received an invitation to interview. That’s very good news as it means that the school believes you have potential.
And if the invitation to interview came from an elite MBA program, you have all the more reason to be elated. Among M7 MBA programs, your prospects of admission are generally between 1 in 10 and 1 in 18. But secure an interview and your shot at acceptance at any of their MBA programs has just improved to about 1 in 2.
Whether the invitation is from an M7 MBA Program or not, now is not the time to leave anything to luck. The interviews can make the difference between getting admitted or not. Just like any important job interview, you need to prepare seriously. That’s the only way to ace an interview with a top business school.
Interviews generally last 30 minutes to an hour which means you have very little time to impress your interviewer. As Fortuna’s Malvina Miller Complainville advises in her essential article on prepping for an interview for an M7 MBA, “Schools will be looking for your leadership and communications skills, your ability to articulate your career ambitions within the context of the MBA, and whether you’re a good fit for the school.”
The stakes are high, you’ve come so far, so getting this final communication right is essential.
As former admissions directors and business school professionals from the world’s top business schools, my Fortuna colleagues and I have prepared thousands of candidates for interviews with top MBA schools. In fact, that’s one of many services we offer in our MBA Start-to-Finish Packages in addition to the Traditional Interview Prep we offer a la carte.
Interview prep is ideal for you if:
Preparing for interviews can be scary. Fortuna coaches know that and know how to help candidates prepare to be the best version of themselves in any interview.
Your best friend, colleague, or parent certainly mean well but their knowledge of the business school landscape is limited.
Your Fortuna coach will walk you through what to expect in your interview and what are the key elements you need to prepare.
Perhaps there’s a gap in your resume that needs explaining. Should you mention it in your elevator pitch or later and what’s the best way to position it? Or perhaps your GPA wasn’t as strong as it should have been and you’re not sure how to respond to a question on that. These are just some examples of the types of exchanges you may have with your coach regarding strategy.
Nothing beats practice with a coach. Your Fortuna coach will ask you the same questions your interviewers will and then stop, give feedback, and start again. Candidates make incredible progress in our mock interview sessions. Their elevator pitch is tightened and more interesting. They are much clearer in their messaging on why an MBA with X school and why now. Our candidates improve dramatically, and not just their messages, but their communication style, too.
While it may seem counter-intuitive, the best prepared candidates are the ones that are the most natural in their interviews. Our coaches provide candidates with important tips on how to stay calm and how to break the ice and establish a positive connection with their interviewer. They provide nuanced input on communications style and body language. We ensure that our candidates have prepared pertinent questions for their interviewer.
In our experience, the thorough preparation done with the guidance of an expert and caring coach, is a major confidence booster. And feeling confident is invaluable for acing an MBA interview!