You’ve aced the GMAT, spent hours perfecting your essay, polished your CV, and submitted your online application form. A few weeks later, you discover that it’s all paid off: you’ve been shortlisted and asked to come in for an MBA interview. Congrats! You’re one step closer to the career of your dreams.
The key to interviewing like a pro is preparation.
Whether your interview is conducted over Skype or in person, preparing for an MBA interview can be just as nerve-wracking as preparing for a job interview. What if I say something stupid? What if I blush beetroot-red and stumble over my words? What if I mess it up? If you’re having any of these thoughts, you’re not alone. Even the most confident candidates admit to finding the prospect of an MBA interview a little intimidating. But your MBA interview doesn’t have to be an ordeal. Setting yourself up for success simply requires a positive mindset and a healthy dose of preparation.
One part of MBA interview preparation that candidates often neglect is thinking about which questions you will ask your interviewer. This is unfortunate, because which questions you ask is just as important as which questions you answer.
Asking the right questions during your MBA interview has two obvious benefits. First, it’s an opportunity to gather important information about the school and the program. Second, it’s a great way to show that you’re interested and enthusiastic: two factors that make you instantly more attractive to your interviewer.
That said, not all questions are created equal. Asking the wrong questions can bore your interviewer or give off a bad impression. For instance, you should avoid general questions about the school regarding information you can easily find in a brochure; you should also stay away from questions related to the interviewer’s personal life; and definitely you shouldn’t ask questions that have no relation with the program or the school.
On the other hand, asking intelligent, original questions that give your interviewer pause for thought, or, even better, prompt a natural back-and-forth that both you and your interviewer genuinely enjoy, can put you at the top of the admissions list.
Here are a few examples of questions you should ask in your MBA interview:
1) ‘What kind of advice would you offer candidates looking to get the most out of this program?’
This question is great because it works on two levels. On one level, it shows your eagerness to really apply yourself so that you can get as much as possible out of your MBA. Business schools are attracted to students who show this kind of motivation and enthusiasm. On another level, the question is useful because it asks the interviewer for advice, which requires them to stop and think in order to really give a relevant answer. Any question that makes your interviewer reflect in this way is a good one, because it makes your interview more memorable. In addition, you may really get some valuable advice that helps you make the most of your year at business school.
2) ‘What is the program’s biggest asset (and biggest drawback)?’
Asking the interviewer to tell you about the school or program’s biggest asset or advantage is a good way to even the playing field, so to speak. This question suggests that the school needs to impress you just as much as you need to impress the school, which gives you an attractive air of confidence. Asking about the school’s biggest drawback has the same effect, although this question becomes even more interesting if you follow it up with ‘and what can future students and alumni do to help the school improve upon that area?’
3) ‘What kind of technology can students make use of in the Knowledge Labs?’
Asking questions that relate directly to campus life or the school’s facilities is beneficial as it shows that you’re preparing to immerse yourself in your MBA experience and to make the most of the facilities. It also shows that you’ve extended your research beyond the basics like the course curriculum and structure, perhaps even visiting the campus in person.
4) ‘How would you describe the school culture?’
This a great question because it mimics an equally important question you should be asking in future job interviews. Now more than ever, both business schools and companies are on the lookout for candidates that fit their internal culture. At business school, you’ll be participating in group projects that will require you to gel with your classmates. Whether or not you fit in affects the health of the whole group, and your interviewer will be wise to this. Showing that you’re cognisant of school culture already suggests that you’re likely to be a sensitive and flexible team player.
Remember, you’ll do better in your MBA interview if you’ve chosen a program that’s well aligned with your own career goals and personal ambitions in the first place. Our free guide, How to find the perfect MBA, is designed to help hopeful MBA candidates pick the right business school.