Your Complete Guide: How to Ace the MBA Interview

January 14, 2020 | by Fortuna Admissions

Among M7 schools, your prospects of admission are generally between 1 in 10 and 1 in 18. But secure an interview and your shot at acceptance has just improved to about 1 in 2.

You now have a great chance of getting in, and now is the time to prepare with gusto. Even if you’re confident about your interview skills, with b-school interviews 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.

To support your efforts, we’ve compiled our top articles on how to prepare for your interview for MBA admission, from prep strategy and tricky questions to mistakes to avoid and what to wear. We’ve also included several articles on school-specific MBA preparation strategy by our team’s former gatekeepers to INSEAD, HBS, Wharton, Stanford GSB, and Kellogg.

MBA Interview Prep

1. 6 Tips for Acing the MBA Interview

Don’t miss this definitive article by Fortuna’s head of interview practice, Malvina Miller Complainville, former Assistant Director at Harvard Business School. In a piece for Poets&Quants, Malvina distills her advice into six top interview tips, along with insights on the M7 landscape. (Her original 10 tips for Forbes, published in 2013, was viewed over 191,000 times.)

2. How To Prepare For Tough MBA Interview Questions

What do you do when the MBA admissions interviewer asks you whether 3,599 is a prime number? (Besides try not to break into a cold sweat.) Or, why would doctors prescribe a drug if they didn’t believe the disease was real? Fortuna’s Judith Silverman Hodara, former Wharton head of admissions, delivers this MBA guide full of insights and strategy for what to do if you don’t know the answer or if you give a bad answer.

3. MBA Interview Mistakes to Avoid: Before & After

All told, the MBA interview process is a relational experience, and the sphere of influence extends beyond your interviewer. As a Fortuna coach and Columbia Business School alum, as well as former Deloitte Consulting recruiting lead, Karen Hamou has been on both sides of the fence. Here are her seven top tips for approaching the MBA interview from lead up to follow up, ensuring that you put your best foot forward at every interval.

4. Dressing for the MBA Interview

Dressing for the MBA interview is about being memorable for the right reasons, say Fortuna’s Karen Hamou. In the business school interview context, this means standing out for what you say versus what you wear. Karen discusses why it’s advisable to give your appearance thoughtful consideration when doing your MBA preparation, and what specifically to keep in mind.


applicant performing their mba interview preparation

5. How to Prepare for The INSEAD Interview

The INSEAD interview is a dynamic one. None of its interviews happen on campus; instead, INSEAD draws upon a global pool of alumni interviewers to help evaluate potential students in the cities where they live. Interviewers are given a lot of latitude, which means there’s a lot of variability in terms of format, style and tempo. Fortuna’s Melissa Jones, former Assistant Director for INSEAD’s MBA Program in France, discusses what you need to know and what to expect.

6. Ace the HBS Interview: An Insider’s Advice

No one gets an invitation to interview at Harvard who doesn’t have already have a solid chance of being admitted to the university. Still, the reality at HBS is that you can have a flawless interview and still not land a place in its incoming class. Here are several key differentiators that make the HBS interview unique, along with six tips MBA preparation tips for how to impress MBA admissions at Harvard in your limited time to shine. Don’t miss our related article, HBS Interview Prep: Your Post-Interview Reflection.

7. MBA Interview Prep for Stanford GSB

In stark contrast to the HBS interview, which is administered by admissions staff who have read your entire app in just 30 minutes, Stanford GSB interviews are conducted blind (resume only) by a GSB alum. But don’t be fooled by the collegial vibe – GSB’s line of questioning favors behavioral style questions that will require your thorough and thoughtful preparation. The key to success is coming up with specific – and substantive – situational examples, says Fortuna’s Heidi Hillis, former GSB alum interviewer. Heidi outlines what the GSB is looking for and features example behavioral questions from recent candidates.  

8. Wharton’s Team-Based Discussion – What To Expect & How To Succeed

This dynamic, relational experience is about much more than delivering a strong pitch – Wharton’s admission committee wants to observe how you approach a challenge, present yourself, cohesively work towards solutions in a small group context and think on your feet. Fortuna’s Judith Silverman Hodara, former Wharton head of admissions, is practiced at guiding candidates to bring their best to the table. Judith articulates what success looks like, along with advice for delivering your standout pitch. 

9. What You Need to Know About the Kellogg MBA Alumni Interview

Kellogg is the only top business school that seeks to interview every candidate who applies. It’s able to attempt this feat by flexing the strength of a worldwide network of passionate alumni, says Fortuna’s William Kotas, former Kellogg Director and alum interviewer. And because the experience is distinct from being interviewed by a member of the MBA adcom, so too is the preparation. Willie offers three key factors to keep in mind, along with tips for how to prepare.

Want more advice?

Check out our series of video strategy sessions on M7 MBA Interview Advice, featuring the expertise of Fortuna Admissions coaches who were former gatekeepers of these elite programs.

For video strategy sessions on a variety of MBA interview related topics and other admissions strategies, check out the Fortuna Admissions YouTube channel. Contact us today for a free consultation to learn more.

Fortuna Admissions Co-Founder and Director Caroline Diarte Edwards is a former Director of Admissions, Marketing and Financial Aid for the INSEAD MBA program. For a candid assessment of your chances of admission success at a top MBA program, sign up for a free consultation.

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