How to Succeed at Your MBA Interview: Putting Your Best Foot Forward

During our interview article series we’ve talked about invited vs. open interviews, and we’ve discussed the difference between video vs. in-person interviews. In this article, we’ll discuss how to put your best foot forward with advice from the Schulich, as well as the unique new interview process that is rolling out at DeGroote.

First, we spoke with Melissa Judd, the Assistant Dean of Students at the Schulich School of Business at York University. Schulich has three application intake dates: September, January, and May. For applicants who submitted early, interviews have already begun, and every applicant will be interviewed before acceptance.

“The interview provides an opportunity to discuss the application further and to assess whether the candidate is a good fit for the program,” Melissa says. “The interview is an important opportunity to showcase who you are.”

For Schulich, the interview is just one dimension of the admissions process, although an important one. “Assessing candidates for the MBA is a holistic process,” says Melissa. “We assess their academic potential by examining past academic performance as well as their performance on the GMAT. We want to ensure that candidates can handle the rigor of the program. We look at their resumes to understand their employment history as well as to assess their community and volunteer endeavors. We look at how articulate a candidate is, and how effectively they can communicate. We assess how their objectives align with the program and to probe areas of the applicant’s profile that may require further clarification.”

If you plan on applying to Schulich, Melissa offers this advice, “Be prepared and be yourself.”

As for the DeGroote School of Business at McMaster University, their admissions process is quite different, and, in particular, their new interview process stands out as entirely unique. Beginning in 2016, DeGroote will be switching to online-only interviews, according to Jennifer McCleary, the Director of Student Experience.

“We just entered into a partnership with a third-party vendor and will be introducing online interviews for all candidates for all of our programs starting September 2016,” reveals Jennifer. “The interview will be a required component not dissimilar to submitting your transcript, GMAT score, or resume. For our Co-op Program, this is an additional interview process as the school will continue with its in-person interviews for this flagship program. Our team is still reviewing the timing of when the new interview will take place; it will depend on when we have the system ready to go—potentially as late as February 2016.”

MetroMBA: Can you explain more about the new online interview process?

“Think of it as another component of a prospective student’s application package,” Jennifer says. “Once a student has expressed interest and has started the application process, our recruiting and admissions team will be notified. Then, on a regular basis—whether it’s weekly or daily—we will send out to all those who have recently submitted their application package an invitation to interview. And this is a requirement for the school to consider them for the MBA program. Then, the student would access their application online (using their unique identifier). They will have an opportunity to practice their interview skills first. Then, when they’re ready, they will be asked 3-5 questions focused on the competencies that our school believes are the most important to bring with them. The goal is to discover if they fulfill the program’s requirements and if they’re the right fit for our business school.”

MetroMBA: Will the 3-5 questions be the same for every applicant?

“No, they will not be the same,” reveals Jennifer. “As you can appreciate, if they were the same questions, it would not take long, with social media these days, for the students to know what the questions are. So, it really is about the school identifying our three to five competencies and then questions will be randomly selected from a pool or bank of interview questions focusing on that theme.”

MetroMBA: Will any candidates receive additional interviews or unique questions based on their specific application?

“It’s too early to tell if students will receive specific questions or interviews,” says Jennifer. “But suffice it to say that we are looking at multiple components of a package, and we are reviewing holistically every single candidate’s package. So, just as an employer would be recruiting a candidate who fulfills the majority of the qualifications, rare is it that an employer would hire someone with 100% of the qualifications fulfilled. So, it is looking at the entire student package: their academic performance, their leadership skills, their work experience, their volunteer engagement, and then these core competencies that the school has identified.”

MetroMBA: Is there any advice you would offer potential applicants when it comes to their interview?

“My advice to prospective students wanting to come to the DeGroote School of Business—whether it be the full-time traditional program, the accelerated program, or the co-op program—is to really know who you are, what skills you bring to the table, and what past experiences will help you succeed in the program. Think in terms of leadership, communication, and problem-solving skills. Those are all soft skills that employers are seeking at graduation. So hone those skills now, and then conduct some research. Prepare. And go online and practice some interview questions before you interview for our program or any business school program.”

If you’re interested in applying to the Schulich School of Business MBA program, apply now. For the DeGroote School of Business, get ready for the November 1 recruiting season by learning more about their admissions process.  And to learn more about the MBA interview process, read the three-part MBA interview series available from Clear Admit, and stay tuned for more interview articles right here on Metro MBA.


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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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