How to Succeed at Your MBA Interview: Part 1

MBA Interview

It’s MBA admissions season, and that means, for many applicants, interview invitations are starting to roll in. In fact, at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management, interviews have already begun for 2016 MBA applicants who submitted early.

Interview season can present a variety of conflicting feelings. First, getting asked to interview is a great feeling because it means that you’re a top-level, if not final, candidate. But, right after that feeling of relief and success is deep anxiety.

Interviews can be the most stressful part of the entire MBA application. There are so many elements that go into the interview process, as well as a variety of different interview formats.

To help you feel at ease and prepared for the interview process, this is the first article in our MBA interview series. To get started, let’s talk about what you need for a successful interview.

Every school has a unique approach to the interview process, and Rotman is no exception. We spoke to Niki da Silva—the Managing Director of the Full-Time MBA at Rotman—about the interview process.

First, there are two types of interviews for many MBA programs: Open vs. Invited interviews. Open interviews allow applicants to choose their own interview time and day so that they are prepared from the moment they complete their application. Rotman prefers invited interviews and “every applicant who is ultimately admitted to Rotman is interviewed,” says da Silva.

The interview at Rotman only occurs after the applicant has already passed the screening process, which includes an essay, reflection question, two video questions, and a written response. At Rotman, the interview isn’t the first time you will get in front of the admissions committee—since they already do video questions—but it will most likely be your longest conversation.

“The interview typically lasts approximately 30 minutes,” da Silva reveals, “with 10 minutes for questions at the end of the interview.” When possible, Rotman also prefers to conduct their interviews in person. However, considering their large international class and the ever-changing technology world, Rotman is also comfortable conducting interview “via Skype video.” No matter which interview process you participate in, they should be treated identically.

To succeed during a Rotman interview, applicants need to keep three things in mind, according to da Silva.

  1. You need to highlight the unique contribution you will make to the MBA program and the Rotman community.
  2. Align your background and MBA goals with the curriculum and culture of the program.
  3. Showcase what makes you unique (i.e. passions, interests, and accomplishments that are important contributors to your character and perspective).

“Since the interview is really about exploring whether there is a good fit between a candidate and a school,” da Silva explains, “the interview ultimately is the most important part of the admissions process.” At Rotman, the interview is considered more than interrogation; it’s a two-way conversation.

To truly be prepared for your MBA interview, according to da Silva, it’s all about the amount you prepare. “The best advice for applicants is to invest time to prepare for the interview so that you feel confident about what you want to showcase, but not to over-prepare to the point of memorization.” To be a successful interviewee, you should come prepared with specific highlights and examples from your background and experience. Your goal should be to show the school that you are authentic and that what you represented in your application is the real you.

In fact, authenticity is one of the most important aspects of your interview process at Rotman. “You need to be able to be yourself in the interview and ultimately get admitted into the School based on an authentic representation of who you are,” da Silva says. “If you are trying to maintain a persona of someone you aren’t, the MBA experience will be draining, and even worse, you may wind up admitted into a School that really wasn’t a fit or well-aligned to your goals.”

In the end, make sure that use the interview to help you make the best decision, just as each MBA program is using the interview to narrow down their candidates. “Be clear about what you want and ask questions of the interviewer,” da Silva recommends, “as this experience not only provides valuable insight for the school selecting candidates, but should be a source of information for applicants to help reconfirm their perceptions about their top choice MBA Program.”

To learn more about the MBA interview process, take a look at the three-part MBA interview series available from Clear Admit and stay tuned for the next interview articles right here on Metro MBA.

And for more detail from the Rotman School of Management, take a look at their blog Admission Interviews—How Should You Prepare?


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About the Author

Kelly Vo    

Kelly Vo is a writer who specializes in covering MBA programs, digital marketing, and personal development.

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