How To Answer Common MBA Admission Questions

Don't leave your research to the morning of the interview, says MBA Tour head

Peter Von Loesecke, Director of the MBA Tour, drops some pearls of wisdom for everyone sweating their b-school application.



Peter Von Loesecke, Director of The MBA Tour, which hosts 165 events across 28 countries worldwide each year.


Why business school?

Be sure to answer this question as it relates to your personal and professional goals. Be consistent with your application and be sure to answer them in terms of how business school in general can help you achieve those goals. It is important for you to articulate very clearly what an MBA can do for you combined with your background. Believe it or not, in my opinion, NOT many people can answer this question convincingly. Take a look at the BusinessBecause Why MBA series to read why other other people have chosen to study an MBA!


Why did you decide to apply to this business school?

Answer this question in a similar fashion to why business school, but be sure it matches something specific in your personal and professional goals to something the school has. This is the most compelling reason you can provide a school to accept you other than your academic qualifications.


The more unique and thought out your answer is the better you appear to an admission committee. This question is also not answered well by many students either because they do not always give the impression that they have done their homework on the school they are interviewing with. Notbeing prepared on this question makes your interest in the program pretty shallow.


What makes you stand out among other candidates?

You reveal to the interviewer something unique about yourself which can be a combination of experiences you have had (academic and professional) that would make you successful at their program. Your unique experiences are of great interest to schools because they define who you are as a person, how you may contribute in the classroom, how employable you are, and how well you may perform academically.


What can you contribute to our program?

Answer this question by relating to you strengths and experiences. If you have something very unique in your work experience be sure to mention it and how the school can value it. Also, don't be shy about how your experience can be of value to the classroom or to case team members.


What are your expectations of this program?

This is a question that should clearly demonstrate you have done your homework about the school and how its strengths will help you achieve your career expectations. If you want to go into real estate for example, be sure to answer in terms of how the program's real estate courses will help you achieve your goals.


Make sure you research the facts behind your answer or you may come across as not having done your homework.


How do you plan to use your degree?

This is similar to "Why business school?". You need to demonstrate how the degree can improve your chances in a career interest. Make sure your career interests were NOT researched the morning of the interview. You had better articulate a clear road map to getting where you want to go.


Where do you see yourself in ten years?

This is a hard question and in these times no one can really say where they will be in 10 years. However, with a well thought out career plan, make sure you demonstrate your answer is right for you with well researched facts for back up.


Can you walk me through your resume?

This is a question for you to walk through your experiences. You can impress the interviewer by going beyond what you did and discuss what you learned and how you grew in that position. Modesty and humility are welcome. False modesty is transparent.


Can you give me an example of a time that you demonstrated leadership?

Give an example how you lead people to overcome barriers in succeeding. Never miss the opportunity to sincerely describe what you learned and how you even failed. Failure teaches many lessons from which you can learn.


What is your definition of teamwork?

I would recommend framing this in terms of a personal experience not what you think will happen at the business school.


What would you say is your biggest weakness?

Be honest here and DO NOT present a weakness that masquerades as a strength like: "I work too hard and intimidate others" "I am a perfectionist".


These are nonsense. A better weakness example might be: "I need to improve my communication skills" or I am not always sensitive to the opinions of others". Be sure to back them up with examples or you appear gratuitous.


It is ok if your weaknesses are mentioned in your recommendations and mention them here. At least you demonstrate acknowledging your weaknesses.


What are your greatest strengths?

Make sure your strengths are something that your resume supports. Consistency is important here and your recommendations need to validate them.


How would your colleagues describe you?

I would imagine working for yourself and think about all the times you were right and wrong. Then think about the interaction you had with others in those situations and how you may have come across to those that worked with you. Be brutally honest with yourself!


What are your hobbies?

This question can really say something about how you enjoy your free time.


This is not a trick question but your activities may say something about your intellectual curiosity. I don't think business schools are not looking for people with specific hobbies to reject or accept.


Compare Business Schools on the the MBA Rankings Table, check out in-depth business school profiles or read about successful MBA Entrepreneurs! You can also use the BusinessBecause People Finder to find current business students in different countries and message them with your questions! 


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