How Do I Handle Curveball Questions During My MBA Interview?

How should you answer an unexpected question during your MBA interview? Rosa Homburg, careers expert at the Frankfurt School of Finance & Management, explains

Interviewers like to ask unpredictable questions to gain an insight into MBA candidates’ personality and mindset. In this Applicant Question, careers expert at the Frankfurt School of Finance & Management, Rosa Homburg, gives her top tips for answering curveball questions.


What are curveball questions?

Although it’s an achievement to reach the interview stage, it still makes most candidates nervous about what to expect. One of the reasons for this is that interviews may include curveball questions—unpredictable questions that seem to be tricky to answer. 

Those questions could be about your weaknesses or failures, and interviewers may also ask you to identify yourself with an object and why. 

Your reaction and answers to those questions give interviewers interesting insights into your mindset, competences, personality, and true motivation. They also show how you handle pressure.


A fast-changing business environment

An MBA is a gateway to your next career level in a business environment that is increasingly complex, where organisations face challenges and uncertainties on a daily basis. 

Irrespective of the career you may choose after your MBA, you will likely face unpredictable situations in which you have to make decisions without knowing what the future may hold. 

Companies expect MBA students to know how to deal with challenges and change, so facing tricky and unexpected questions during your MBA interview can be a great preparation for your future job interviews. 


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How do you prepare for unpredictable questions?

Preparing for unexpected situations seems paradoxical, but it’s possible. Here are some tips for you:

1. Analyse unpredictable situations you have faced

You have probably faced many unexpected situations during your career so far.

Think about specific challenges you have faced, for example during a project at work. Then reflect on your action steps. How did you handle this problem, what did you do to find a solution? 

Finally, note down the outcomes. What did you actually achieve? Analysing and taking note of those situations may help you realize that you have in fact already handled many challenges successfully. 

This may boost your confidence for handling curveball questions.


2. Prepare interview questions, but keep your answers flexible

There are many resources with interview tips, even guides on how to answer curveball questions. However, my advice is to keep your answers flexible enough, possibly just keeping some key words in mind as reference. 

That’s because curveball questions may change or include slight variations in every interview, so listen carefully and then answer. 


3. Be authentic

Preparing answers for possible interview questions is good, but keep in mind that overthinking and too much preparation may be counterproductive. 

It’s also important to stay true to yourself. Don’t rely on pre-fabricated answers that you find online, because interviewers will spot those easily. 

Allow yourself to be spontaneous, a little bit creative, and enjoy the experience.


Read another applicant question

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