MBA Interview Questions and Answers: Learning to highlight your strengths

MBA interviews are an essential component of the MBA admissions process. Consequently, making a good impression on your interviewer is paramount to gaining admission to the best MBA programs in the country. Considering the unpredictable nature of an interview setting, the key to giving a successful MBA interview is preparation. Prepping your MBA interview questions and answers ahead of time will help you feel confident going into your interviews.

In this guide to the MBA interview, we’ll cover everything you need to know about the MBA interview process, including:

  • MBA application requirements
  • What to expect from an MBA interview experience
  • 15 common MBA interview questions and answers (including how to approach “why MBA” and “tell me about yourself” MBA interview questions)
  • Questions to ask MBA interviewers
  • Tips for MBA interview prep, and more!

Before we jump into MBA interview questions and answers and key tips for your MBA interview prep, let’s see how the interview fits into the overall application process.

MBA Application Requirements

In order to get an MBA interview, applicants will first need to successfully apply to the MBA programs they’re interested in. That means you’ll need to meet a program’s other MBA requirements before you can begin the interview process.

Requirements will vary depending on the school you apply to and the type of MBA program you apply to. In general, when applying to MBA programs, you’ll likely encounter the following MBA application requirements:

  • Application essay
  • Resume
  • College transcripts
  • GMAT/GRE scores
  • Letter(s) of recommendation
  • Application fees

When considering an MBA program, be sure to explore their specific application requirements. For example, the Harvard MBA application checklist includes the English Language Test (typically for international applicants) and Acceptance of Policies. These are similar to the Chicago Booth MBA application, which also includes an English Language Test.

Applying to MBA programs can be expensive, so cost is an important factor when considering MBA requirements. The Harvard MBA application and the Booth MBA application fees are both $250. However, many MBA programs also have fee waivers for those with demonstrated need.

In your initial application, your essays serve as a first look into your character and experiences as well as your potential fit for a particular program. Some MBA requirements only include one essay, like the Harvard MBA application. Others, such as the Booth MBA application, can have as many as 3-4 essays. 

While the initial application is comprehensive, these MBA requirements are only round one of your MBA application timeline. The vast majority of top MBA programs will also require an interview when considering applicants for admission. So, you can think of the MBA interview process as round two.

The MBA Interview

MBA Interview

The MBA interview is perhaps the most crucial part of the MBA requirements. Let’s discuss why doing MBA interview prep and nailing your interview is so important.

Generally speaking, receiving an MBA interview is both an indication of interest from the program’s admissions team and a requirement for admission. For most programs, interviews are by invitation only, so not all applicants are offered an interview. This applies to the Wharton MBA interview, Northwestern Kellogg interview, and Cornell MBA interview process. Additionally, receiving an interview does not guarantee an applicant will be admitted.

There’s good reason for MBA programs to rely so heavily on MBA interview questions and answers during the admissions process. It’s challenging to learn about a candidate’s interpersonal and communication skills on paper. So, the MBA interview experience is designed to help admissions learn more about who you are in the context of a conversation.

For an applicant, your MBA interview questions and answers give you a chance to tell your story. You can provide context for your resume, highlight your strengths, and learn more about the program to which you are applying. Ultimately, the goal of an MBA interview is the same as your overall application goal: to show admissions why their program is the right choice for you and why you’ll be an asset to their program.

Before beginning your MBA interview prep, there are a few different types of MBA interviews you should be aware of. 

Open vs. By Invitation

Open interviews mean students can sign up to complete an interview; however, this is not often the case for MBA programs. Much more common are interviews by invitation only, meaning students must be contacted by admissions first. Again, both the Cornell MBA interview and Kellogg interview are examples of invitation-only MBA interviews.

However, by-invitation programs have their nuances. For instance, candidates invited to complete a Cornell MBA interview must schedule and complete their interview by a predetermined deadline. On the other hand, given the high demand for interviews, some applicants to Northwestern may receive a Kellogg interview waiver. In this case, applicants will not need to complete an interview, although they may still be contacted by the admissions team with follow-up questions.

Blind vs. Non-blind

Blind vs non-blind refers to the context your interviewer has coming into your MBA interview. In a blind interview, the interviewer has not reviewed your complete application. On the contrary, interviewers will typically only have access to your resume. In a non-blind interview, your interviewer will have had an opportunity to review your application before sitting down with you.

For example, Kellogg interviews are conducted blind and based on resumes alone. On the other hand, if you are invited to complete an interview with Harvard Business School, your interviewer will review your application before meeting you.

Individual vs Group

Most MBA programs will conduct individual interviews with strong MBA applicants. The Kellogg interview and Cornell MBA interview are both examples of individual interviews. This is a one-on-one setting where you sit down with a member of the admissions team.

However, if you look at the Wharton MBA interview process, you’ll notice they are conducted a little differently. The Wharton MBA interview is conducted in two parts: a group interview and an individual interview. The first part of a Wharton MBA interview is a team-based discussion. This means you will be interviewing alongside 4-5 other candidates and evaluated on your ability to work as a member of a team.

Recognizing the type of interview you are walking into will help you better prepare for your MBA interview questions and answers. Now, let’s discuss more thoroughly what to expect in an interview. 

What should I expect in an MBA Interview?

In general, the interview process will be as follows. First, you’ll be invited for an interview. Then, you’ll be matched with an interviewer from the MBA program. Once you’ve been assigned your interviewer, you’ll need to schedule your interview with them. Ideally, you should schedule your interview within a week of receiving your invitation, if not sooner.

Finally, you’ll do the interview, which can last anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes. For example, the Harvard MBA interview is approximately 30 minutes, while the Wharton MBA interview is a 35-minute group interview followed by a 10-minute one-on-one.

Interviews are usually conducted by an MBA admissions officer, faculty member, or alum. In some cases, you may be interviewing with a current student. For instance, you might complete your Cornell MBA interview with a trained second-year MBA student who is part of Cornell’s Johnson Admissions Group. So, do not be surprised by the age, position, or status of your interviewer.  You should try to impress them regardless. 

The interview itself is typically conversational, with the interviewer prompting questions and guiding the discussion. While your MBA interview questions and answers will depend on your specific interviewer, there are some common questions you can plan for during your MBA interview prep.  Most candidates can expect to hear some variation of “tell me about yourself” MBA interview questions and situational questions. Usually, your interviewer will also give you an opportunity at the end to ask them questions about the program.

When considering MBA interview questions and answers, interviewers are typically looking for four things:

  • Enthusiasm
  • Fit
  • Preparation
  • Character

Every one of your MBA interview questions and answers is an opportunity to showcase these positive qualities about yourself and stand out as a candidate for admission.

Be aware that some MBA programs have an additional step in their MBA application timeline. For example, applicants who complete their Harvard MBA application and interview will then need to submit a post-interview reflection within 24 hours of their interview. So, be sure to check the specific MBA interview requirements for each program you are applying to.

Now, let’s dive into specific MBA interview questions and answers you may focus on in your MBA interview prep.

What do they ask in an MBA Interview?

The MBA interview questions and answers you encounter will depend on the programs you apply to and your interviewer. In any case, applicants should be prepared to answer a variety of questions, including those related to the program, your resume, and your character. There are also often situational questions for MBA interviews.

Any MBA interview experience will likely consist of a combination of these MBA interview questions and answers. Therefore, you should consider planning for all kinds of questions during your MBA interview prep. Even if you aren’t asked the MBA interview questions and answers you planned for in your interview, preparing will pay off. Your strongest experiences and qualities will be at the front of your mind when you shake your interviewer’s hand.

15 Most Common MBA Interview Questions

MBA Interview

Now, let’s go over 15 common MBA interview questions and answers to incorporate into your MBA interview prep:

Common MBA Interview Questions

  1. Tell me something about yourself.
  2. Why are you pursuing an MBA?
  3. What are your short-term and long-term goals?
  4. Why are you interested in this school/program?
  5. What other schools are you applying to?
  6. What concerns do you have about getting an MBA?
  7. Walk me through your resume.
  8. What motivates you/what is your passion regarding your current job or industry?
  9. What has been your most challenging or rewarding academic experience so far?
  10. How would your colleagues and/or supervisor describe you in three words?
  11. What is your biggest strength? Biggest weakness?
  12. Describe a failure in which you were involved.
  13. Talk about a time when you had to make a difficult decision
  14. Discuss a time you demonstrated leadership.
  15. Explain a conflict you experienced in your work.

Please keep in mind this is not an exhaustive list of MBA interview questions, and you may encounter variations of these MBA questions. During your MBA interview prep, you should still do your own research on the interview practices for specific MBA programs. Regardless, some MBA interview questions are so common you are almost certain to encounter them during the interview process.

Next, we’ll discuss the top three most common MBA interview questions and answers. First, we’ll go over how to approach “tell me about yourself” MBA interview questions. Then, we’ll discuss the “why MBA” interview question. Finally, we’ll review how to approach MBA interview questions regarding your short- and long-term goals.

“Tell Me About Yourself” in an MBA Interview 

MBA Interview

“Tell me about yourself” MBA interview questions are the most common types of questions you’ll encounter in an MBA interview. They can also be the most difficult to answer because “tell me about yourself” MBA interview questions are so open-ended. It’s important to keep your answers both original and concise. This is often one of the first questions asked in an interview, and you want to make a strong first impression.

In general, keep your response to a “tell me about yourself” MBA interview question to about two minutes or less. During your MBA interview prep, consider creating a throughline—a theme that threads through everything you say.  How have your academic experiences led you to your work experiences and to where you are now? You might also consider focusing on a specific strength or character trait. How has that trait evolved and supported you throughout your journey?

Here are three tips for approaching “tell me about yourself” MBA interview questions:

  • Think about what sets you apart from other candidates, either in your skills/abilities or academic/work experience. How can you differentiate yourself?
  • Consider what you will bring to the program to which you are applying and how you can demonstrate those strengths. You may talk about a specific experience that illustrates your capabilities.
  • Don’t just summarize your resume — most interviewers will have access to it.  Instead, you could dig deeper into something that makes you an ideal candidate for the program.                                 

“Why MBA” Interview Question

MBA Interview

Another one of the most common MBA interview questions and answers is the “why MBA” question. Admissions want students who will be dedicated to and will genuinely benefit from completing their MBA. This is an opportunity to discuss why you want an MBA and what interests you about a particular MBA program.

Speak clearly about what has motivated you to pursue an MBA at this time in your life. Why is an MBA crucial to achieving your future career goals? You might discuss barriers you see in your career, why an MBA might help you overcome them, and what you hope to learn while completing your MBA.

Here are three tips for approaching “why MBA” and “why this program” MBA interview questions:

  • Consider where you are now and where you want to be in the future. Can you explain why an MBA is necessary to get there? 
  • Refine your answer to a few cohesive reasons related to both your professional and personal goals.
  • Tailor your response to the school you are interviewing for, providing program-specific details.

Short-term and Long-term Goals – MBA Interview Question

An important step of your MBA interview prep is defining both your short-term and long-term goals. Short-term goals are what you hope to accomplish within about a year following the completion of your MBA program. Your long-term goals should look further into the future, anywhere from 5-10 years after receiving your MBA. You may also think about the peak of your career.

All three of these MBA interview questions and answers are somewhat interconnected. Try to logically connect your experiences with your goals and with getting an MBA from the specific program. What ties them all together?

Here are three tips for approaching MBA interview questions regarding your short/long-term goals:

Three Tips for Approaching MBA Interview Questions

1. Don’t shy away from ambitious goals; however, be sure they are also attainable.

It may help to write out a rough road map to ensure your goals are sound.

2. Find the connection between your goals.

How will achieving your short-term goals set you up to achieve your long-term goals?

3. Make the importance of these goals clear.

Why will accomplishing these goals be significant for you?

Now, let’s flip the script and discuss questions to ask MBA interviewers.

Questions to ask in MBA Interview

Oftentimes, usually at the end of the interview, interviewers will turn over the questions to the applicant: “Do you have any questions for me?” Given you are the one being interviewed, you may wonder why you need to prepare questions to ask MBA interviewers. Asking questions is a great way to help your interview feel more like a dialogue. They also demonstrate your interest and that you’ve thought seriously about the MBA program at hand.

As this is often one of the final parts of the interview process, you should end on a high note. Don’t simply answer “no” and end the interview!  You can show your interviewer that you are interested in learning as much about their program as you can. Additionally, questions show that you’re willing to take advice and learn from others.

In summary, you’ll want to prepare some questions for your interviewer during your MBA interview prep. You might want to ask about a specific aspect of their program that relates to your career goals/interests. Below are some questions to consider posing during your interview.

Questions to ask MBA Interviewer

  • From your perspective, what sets your MBA program apart from others?
  • If accepted, how can I best prepare for your program?
  • How does your program work to develop relationships with recruiting partners/industries?
  • What is the number one tip you’d give me to make the most of the MBA experience?
  • How would you describe this program’s culture?

Remember, while it’s great to go in with a few questions about the program, this is not an opportunity to ask about the application process. Don’t ask about the status of your application or your odds of admission. Some interviewers may not even know the answers. But more importantly, asking such questions shows a lack of awareness of the etiquette of the interview process. Keep your MBA interview questions and answers focused on the program itself and why you are a good fit.

How to prepare for an MBA Interview?

As we’ve said time and time again, preparation is key to giving a strong interview. If it helps, you can think of these questions as essay prompts. That is to say, you can brainstorm potential answers the same way you might brainstorm topics for a written essay. MBA applicants should reflect on their academic and professional.  Their roles and responsibilities,  challenges, successes and failures, and skills are all fair game for MBA interview questions and answers.

One thing to keep in mind is flexibility. While every applicant will benefit from interview prep, there is a difference between rehearsing and memorizing. Having pre-written or memorized responses will make your interview feel stiff and unnatural. Worse, they won’t help you if you’re asked a question you didn’t prepare for. Instead, focus on going in with a few key points in mind and letting your words flow naturally in the moment.

What kind of experiences should you brainstorm for your interviews? One recommended method for MBA interview prep is the STAR method. Though you may find it challenging to apply to a “tell me about yourself” MBA interview question, this technique will be applicable to the majority of your MBA interview questions and answers.

STAR Method

1. Situation

Set the scene, providing clear context for the experience you are going to describe.

2. Task

Be clear about your objective, whether this was given to you by a manager or a self-imposed goal.

3. Action

Explain the specific steps you took to address the problem at hand and work towards solutions.

4. Result

Share the outcome of your actions, focusing on the direct relationship between what you did and what you accomplished.

This strategy is a great way to help focus your MBA interview prep and applies to many different MBA interview questions. In particular, any question that begins with “tell me about a time when…” can be effectively answered using this formula. 

In recent years, the majority of MBA interviews have been conducted virtually rather than in person. While your MBA interview prep will be the same regardless of your interview method, there are a few more things that could go wrong in an online setting. Don’t wait until one minute before your interview to sit down in front of your computer. Give yourself plenty of time to find a quiet space, check your internet connection, and make sure your video camera and microphone are working.

Our Five Best Tips for Highlighting Your Strengths in an MBA Interview

MBA Interview

We’ve discussed many aspects of the MBA interview experience, including common MBA interview questions and answers. From the “tell me about yourself” MBA interview question to situational questions for MBA interviews, there’s a lot that may be thrown at you during your interview. 

Here are five tips to keep in mind during your MBA interview prep to help you ace any interview, no matter what MBA interview questions come your way:

Five Tips for MBA Interview Prep

1. Be specific and use concrete examples.

During your MBA interview prep, you should brainstorm specific experiences to discuss during your interview. Decide on the key details necessary to communicate the experience, and don’t go beyond those. Have concise examples ready to demonstrate the qualities you want to impress upon your interviewer.

2. Speak to a variety of experiences.

Avoid repetition in your MBA interview questions and answers. If you can, try to use details and examples from both your academic and work history.  Highlight different aspects of your character and strengths through diverse situations.

3. Focus on authenticity.

While you want to present the best version of yourself, remember to still be yourself. Focus on the qualities that make you shine, and don’t exaggerate—let alone falsify—your accomplishments.

4. Always find the positive.

Even though some MBA interview questions and answers may focus on challenges or weaknesses, you can find a silver lining. Showcasing moments of learning, growth, and perseverance can go hand-in-hand with these topics; however, don’t neglect to answer the interviewer’s original question.

5. Practice with a mock interview.

Brainstorming your MBA interview questions and answers on paper is helpful. However, you shouldn’t reference any notes during your interview. Your MBA interview prep should include mock interviews, where you can practice your responses out loud with a friend or mentor.

MBA Interview – Final Thoughts

The key to having strong MBA interview questions and answers is preparation. Even if you don’t feel like interviewing is your strong suit, going in with a clear understanding of what to expect will help you deliver a strong interview. Here are some things to keep in mind during your MBA interview prep: 

Know your interview format.

Understand who you will be talking to, what context they’ll have regarding your application, and whether you’ll be speaking to them virtually or in person. 

Prepare answers to common MBA interview questions.

In any MBA interview, you’ll likely encounter “why MBA,” goals and aspirations, and “tell me about yourself” MBA interview questions, so decide how you want to “pitch” yourself to admissions.

Have questions of your own.

Having questions to ask your interviewer helps demonstrate your interest in a particular program and will make your interview more engaging. 

Be sure to pay close attention to your MBA application timeline, and give yourself plenty of time to complete your MBA interview prep. That way, you can set yourself up for a positive MBA interview experience. For personalized guidance on how to approach MBA interview questions and answers, reach out to for support throughout the entire MBA application process.

MBA Interview

This article was written by Stefanie Tedards. Looking for more admissions support? Click here to schedule a free meeting with one of our Admissions Specialists. During your meeting, our team will discuss your profile and help you find targeted ways to increase your admissions odds at top schools. We’ll also answer any questions and discuss how can support you in the college application process.