Common MBA Interview Questions to Prepare For

Padya Paramita

Common MBA Interview Questions to Prepare For

If you’ve already sent in your components for business school applications, congratulations! Don’t just sit around or plan a month-long vacation now – you need to check whether the schools on your list require you to sign up for interviews or if you have to wait until you’re invited. Now that your schools have seen your resumé, the interview is the place where the adcom gets to know you outside of paper and answer any questions you might have about the institution. The interview format and length vary between schools. Since interviews could very well make or break your application, you have to know what kind of MBA interview questions to prepare for at different programs.

Wherever you’re interviewing, MBA interview questions at all schools typically cover why you’re pursuing an MBA, how their institution can help you, and what your short and long-term goals are. But to guide you in-depth through the process, we’ve included some common MBA interview questions you’re likely to encounter at the top programs, as well as tips on what to prepare before you suit up to face this crucial third phase of the b-school admissions process.

Overview of MBA Interview Questions and Conduct

Before we get to discussing MBA interview questions, it’s important to discuss the logistics. You could be interviewed by a second-year student or an alum. You should also check whether or not an interview is required in order to gain admission. Interview policies depend entirely on the school. Kellogg at Northwestern encourages everyone to request an interview, although they are given out on a first-come first-serve basis. Columbia Business School on the other hand either rejects applicants or interviews the stronger candidates within six weeks of receiving their applications.

Another point to note is that certain b-schools bring signature interview styles that you might not find anywhere else. For example, the Wharton School at Penn hosts a team-based discussion for every interviewee with three other candidates, followed by 10-15 minutes of individual questions. On the other hand, MIT asks behavior-based questions in relation to your past experience. So instead of inquiring about how you would act in a hypothetical situation, the interviewer will frame the questions in terms of how you handled past incidents. When you apply to different MBA programs, you must do research to find out what kind of protocols the schools follow. 

MBA Interview Questions by School

Without a doubt, the best way to practice for this intimidating stage in the admissions process is to practice MBA interview questions before the big day. To further narrow down the type of information you might have to discuss, we’ve made a list of the questions that candidates have encountered at the top 20 MBA programs last cycle.

Harvard Business School

  • Tell me about the deal or project you are working on now.
  • Are you looking to start your own company or join a well-established company?
  • Tell me about a time you led a team.
  • What kind of news outside your industry do you follow?
  • What was your involvement in this particular project on your resumé? How did you make decisions and work together as a team?
  • What made you go into your career field?
  • What led you to your college?
  • What do you do in your current job?
  • What is a good piece of advice that you have been given by a superior at work? How do you put that advice into practice?
  • What is one of your current weaknesses?
  • What do you see yourself doing long-term post-MBA? What about short-term?
  • What is a company/product you admire?

Stanford Graduate School of Business

  • What was the most challenging project you’ve worked on?
  • Talk about a time when you proposed an idea for a new project or piece of work – how did you make the case for it? Were you ultimately successful?
  • What is the most difficult project you’ve had at work?
  • Give me examples of how you have stepped outside your comfort zone.
  • Tell me about a time you faced a challenge at work and how you influenced the outcome.
  • Describe a situation when, while leading a team, you failed. How did you react? What did you learn from this?
  • What do you like to do outside of work?
  • Tell me about a defining moment in your life.
  • Anything about yourself you wish you could change?
  • What’s your biggest accomplishment—both at work and outside work?
  • What drives you?

The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania 

  • How will you contribute to Wharton?
  • How do you think the team-based discussion went?
  • Is the role that you took in the team-based discussion the role you usually take within teams?
  • Did your behavior reflect how you normally are?
  • What is something that your group could have done better?
  • Is there anyone in the team-based discussion that you would not like to have on your team?
  • Tell me about your current work.
  • Why Wharton?

MIT Sloan School of Management

  • Tell me a time when you had a conflict with someone.
  • Tell me a time when things didn’t go well.
  • Tell me about a time you were given feedback. How did you react?
  • Tell me about a time you had communication difficulty (not language based) with someone.
  • Tell me about a time when you dealt with conflict.
  • Tell me about a time you had to deal with uncertainty.
  • Tell me about a time when you had to motivate a lagging team.
  • What do you define as success?
  • Tell me about a time you influenced someone.
  • Tell me about a time you motivated a team.

The University of Chicago Booth School of Business

  • Tell me about a time when you failed to meet a personal or professional goal.
  • What classes are you particularly looking forward to?
  • Describe your ideal MBA environment.
  • How will you contribute to the Booth community?
  • Tell me about a failure you faced. What did you learn?
  • Which other schools are you considering? How does School X compare to Booth in your choices?
  • Resilience and honesty are critical values to Booth. How do these values resonate through your life experiences?
  • Have you been continuing to improve your weakness? How so?
  • Tell me about a time when you tried to improve something around you.
  • What would you want to be featured for in the Booth alumni magazine?
  • How do you adapt to new situations?
  • How did you apply skills you learned in X job to Y job? How do you think those skills will transfer at Booth?
  • What do you do outside of work? How does it help you in your job?

Columbia Business School

  • Tell me about your current work experience.
  • Walk me through your resumé.
  • What are your short-term and long-term goals after Columbia Business School?
  • Tell me about a particularly meaningful extracurricular activity.
  • Why CBS?
  • What are 3-5 adjectives you would use to describe yourself? And why?
  • What impact/achievement have you had in your current job?
  • What are some challenges you’ve encountered at work?
  • How will you contribute to CBS post-graduation?
  • What is your Plan B if an MBA or your main career vision does not work out?
  • There is a lot of teamwork and team-based learning at Columbia. What role do you see yourself taking in a team?
  • What sort of leader are you?

Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University

  • What’s your philosophy on teamwork? What experience helped you understand the importance of teamwork?
  • What do you do outside of work?
  • What is your leadership style?
  • Tell me about a time you were in a challenging situation.
  • What’s your biggest challenge as a leader?
  • What qualities would you bring to Kellogg to help the community?
  • Who inspires you?
  • Give me an example of you taking initiative and leading something. How did it go?
  • What was the last book you read?
  • Tell me about a time that you’ve had to deliver bad news or feedback to someone.
  • Tell me about a time when you’ve had bad news or feedback given to you.

Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley

  • What are some trends in your current or future industry?
  • Tell me about a time you drove change on a team when you weren’t the formal leader.
  • How have you promoted diversity at your work?
  • How do you approach dealing with different types of people?
  • Imagine you are studying at Haas and you are working with the team of five. There is one team member who does not do any work and others teammates start to get angry. What would you do?
  • Can you tell me about a challenging story at work? What happened and how did you solve the problem?

Yale School of Management 

  • What are your short-term and long-term goals?
  • What extracurricular activities will you be involved in at Yale SOM?
  • Given your career trajectory, why did you want to pursue an MBA?
  • Besides an MBA, how else are you pursuing your goals?
  • Why an MBA at this stage of your career?
  • What are your short and long-term goals?
  • Describe your current role.
  • Walk me through your progression at your company.
  • What has been your proudest accomplishment while leading a team?
  • Describe a time you made a mistake and how you fixed it.
  • Why SOM?
  • You had to submit a quote prior to your interview. What was it and can you tell me a little about it?
  • Is there anything else you would like me to know?

Duke’s Fuqua School of Business

  • Describe a time you had to make a compromise at work.
  • Describe a time you were on a team and faced a challenge.
  • What does Team Fuqua mean to you?
  • How do you intend to grow as a leader at Fuqua?
  • What three things are important for successful teamwork? Why? How do you ensure these attributes in your team?
  • What do you do when someone is not pulling their weight on a team?
  • How do you give feedback to others?
  • Do you request feedback from your subordinates? Do you do that formally?
  • Describe your most recent performance review.
  • How will you contribute to Fuqua?

University of Michigan Ross School of Business

  • Describe a situation where something didn’t go as planned. How did you adapt to the situation?
  • What is your leadership style?
  • Give me an example of an incident where you had an ethical dilemma.
  • What is the craziest thing that you have done in your life?
  • What can you teach me in 30 seconds?
  • Tell me about a time you came up with a new solution to a problem.
  • What are you passionate about?
  • Tell me about three people you’ve influenced.
  • Tell me about a time you thought outside of the box.
  • Describe a time when you failed at something.
  • What are some of the things about your industry that you really dislike?
  • Give an example of someone you see as a good leader. 

Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College

  • Tell me about yourself
  • Tell me about any conflict you faced when working on a team.
  • How would other people describe you?
  • How would you describe yourself?
  • What are your post-MBA goals?
  • Walk me through your resumé.
  • Describe a time you led a team.
  • Describe a time you resolved a problem on a team.
  • What would those team members say is your biggest strength and biggest weakness?
  • Why is now a good time for an MBA?
  • Why are you interested in coming to Tuck?
  • What legacy do you want to leave at Tuck?

NYU Stern School of Business 

  • What are three companies you’d like to work at if you pursue your intended career path?
  • How will you approach finding a job once you’re at school?
  • Tell me about a time in or out of work where you disagreed with someone else’s decision but had to go along with it.
  • What will you get involved with on campus?
  • What do you love about New York City?
  • Why did you make the particular career choices that you did?
  • What alternate career plans do you have in case you don’t land your dream job?
  • Tell me about a time in or out of work where you disagreed with someone else’s decision but had to go along with
  • Why NYU?
  • If I were to relay 2-3 things to the adcom that you bring to the table above all else, what would those things be?

University of Virginia Darden School of Business 

  • What impact have you made at work?
  • What role do you typically play on a team?
  • Why did you take up your last job?
  • Do you think that a global approach to business is important?
  • What do you do for fun?
  • Where did you go to college and why? What major did you select?
  • Talk about any internships you had in college and any leadership positions you held.
  • Let’s talk about your career. What was your first job? Have you changed jobs since then? If so, why? In your jobs, what was a challenge you faced and what has been an accomplishment?
  • Why MBA? Why now?
  • What are your long-term and short-term goals
  • Why Darden?
  • How are you equipped to succeed in business school?
  • What classes are you interested in?
  • Tell us about a time you had a conflict with a coworker and how you resolved it.

SC Johnson School of Business at Cornell University

  • What are your post-MBA career goals?
  • What are some of your target companies?
  • What’s your backup plan if your ideal plan doesn’t work out?
  • Tell me about a challenging team experience.
  • How do you plan to leverage the school career development center?
  • What was one of your favorite projects to work?
  • What clubs are you interested in getting involved with at Johnson?
  • What advice have you received from current students or alumni?
  • How will you prepare yourself for the intensive course load?
  • Give me an example of a time when you had to deal with difficult people.
  • Tell me about a time there was conflict in a group and how you resolved that.
  • Who did you speak with to learn about Johnson?
  • Give me an example of a time you resolved a conflict in a professional setting.
  • Give me an example of a time you came up with an innovative solution in a team.
  • Give me an example of a time you were under a time crunch and performed successfully.
  • Why are you a good fit for Johnson?

 UCLA Anderson School of Management

  • What is your long-term career goal?
  • If your first choice post-MBA plan doesn’t work out, what is your backup plan?
  • How will you connect with international students?
  • How will you contribute on a personal level outside of clubs with the Anderson community?
  • Give me an example of conflict in a team and how you resolved it.
  • What draws you to UCLA specifically?
  • Given your prior professional and personal experience, what can you contribute to Anderson?
  • Tell me about an experience in your life in which you failed.
  • How will you become involved in the student body and culture at Anderson? 

Tepper School of Business – Carnegie Mellon University 

  • Walk me through your education and professional experiences.
  • What are you looking forward to after your MBA? What are your career goals?
  • 35 Nationalities are represented at Tepper. Can you tell me about a time when you encountered a different culture at work (not necessarily people from a different nationality) and how you adapted to this difference in culture?
  • Tell me about a time when your work had an unexpected impact on another team.
  • Tell me about a time when you did something that others in the team did not want to do.
  • Is there anything about yourself you want to highlight that we haven’t touched upon?
  • Why Tepper?
  • What is your post-MBA plan?

 USC Marshall

  • Walk me through your resumé.
  • Tell me about yourself.
  • What do you consider to be your greatest strengths/weaknesses?
  • If I were to ask your last manager to share your performance evaluation with me, in which areas would s/he tell me you excelled? In which areas would you need improvement?
  • What is the toughest (analytical) problem you faced? How did you solve it? What would you do differently?
  • What are your career goals five years from now?
  • Why should your dream firm hire you?
  • Tell me about a project in which you exercised a leadership role? What were the group dynamics? What were the successes, failures, key learnings?
  • What has been your greatest success? What has been your greatest failure?
  • What other opportunities are you looking at? 

UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School

  • What is the difference between a leader and a manager?
  • Tell me about a time when you had to lead.
  • What do you think makes a good leader? A good teammate?
  • Tell me about a time you faced a difficult situation. How did it turn out? How did you grow from that experience?
  • Where did you grow up? Where were you before college?
  • Why did you choose your major?
  • What was your most significant accomplishment in your first job after college?
  • What do you want to do post-MBA?
  • Where do you see yourself in 30 years?
  • What are some companies you want to recruit for?
  • Why UNC?
  • What do you hope to contribute to UNC?
  • What extracurriculars did you participate in during college?
  • Would you say your GMAT/GRE score is reflective of you as a person? If not, what does it say about you and how would you describe your score?
  • If I were to call your recommender right now, what are two strengths and a weakness that they would tell me about you?
  • What types of opportunities are you looking for at UNC? And job-wise? 

McCombs School of Business – University of Texas at Austin

  • How would your supervisor describe you in three words and why?
  • Tell me about a time you were directly in a conflict at work.
  • What concerns do you have about pursuing your MBA?
  • What qualities have you already displayed that show you are a good fit for business school?
  • Has diversity (or lack thereof) ever presented itself as a challenging issue in your workplace and how did you handle it?
  • What kind of legacy do you hope to leave at McCombs?
  • What clubs are you interested in joining?
  • Are there any particular classes you’d like to take at McCombs?
  • What are your short-term and long-term career goals?
  • What is your backup plan if these goals don’t work out?

Preparation Tips for MBA Interview Questions 

  • Know why you’ve picked the school - Any institution you’re applying to wants to know why you’ve chosen them. Sure, you’re interested in an MBA from a top school. But why their program specifically? Even if you’ve mentioned some specifics in your business school essay, you need to be able to articulate your reasons at your interview, because the “why our school” inquiry is one of the most common MBA interview questions candidates encounter.
  • Know how an MBA can help you reach your goals - Top business schools seek individuals who are goal-oriented, driven, and passionate. Before you set off to interview at your dream school, make sure you go in with concrete ideas of what you hope to do once you’ve completed your degree. It’s best to make sure your plans are as specific as possible instead of vague statements such as “I want to start my own firm.” Take advantage of the MBA interview questions about your short-term and long-term goals to help admissions officers understand what you envision for your trajectory. 
  • Know Common Themes – From reading our list of MBA interview questions, you might have figured out that there are patterns which most schools follow when they talk to you. Since top programs want ambitious and high-achieving individuals, prepare to articulate your short-term and long-term goals and how an MBA can help you get there. They also appreciate candidates who are workplace leaders. Reflect on your work experiences, and think about times you overcame challenges, experienced successes and failures, and led projects or teams. There are some questions that will be asked in one way or another at any place you interview.
  • Remember what you’ve written in your application - When you hear back about an interview, make sure to check whether the particular school conducts blind interviews or not. A blind interview policy indicates that the interviewer has not read your application before meeting you. For example, if you were to interview at UT Austin, Yale, UVA or UChicago, which all conduct blind interviews, you must make sure to include any crucial details about yourself in your answers that you might have already included in your essays. On the flip side, if your interviewer has seen your application, like at Harvard and MIT, make sure you’re not repeating anything. Prepare your answers to common MBA interview questions

Now that you’ve familiarized yourself with common MBA interview questions to prepare for, it’s time to practice, practice, and practice! Jot down your main talking points, go over the questions with a friend, and remember to be specific and use concrete examples in your answers. If you ace this component and impress the admission committee, you’ll get one step closer to that acceptance letter.

General FAQ

Who will conduct my MBA interview?

Depending on the school, you could be interviewed by an MBA admissions committee member, a second-year student, or an alum.

Are interviews required?

This depends on the institution. At Kellogg, for example, all students are encouraged to request an interview. At Columbia, however, candidates are either rejected or invited to interview.

What are the most common MBA interview questions?

MBA interview questions typically cover the following topics: why you’re pursuing an MBA, how their institution can help you, and what your short and long-term goals are.

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