We were helping someone with their interview prep for a top school recently and after going through their performance in the mock interview, they came back with some comments:
Where would I be without you? Thank you so much for this detailed feedback. I’m happy I took your help, though I wish I had taken it a bit earlier. My interview starts in 36 hours from now and there is a lot to do but I’m on it 🙂
I have a question – I’m really struggling with the Why [this school] question. What I could gather from the website and my interactions with current students (7 in total) was how experiential learning permeates all things at [this school] – classes, clubs, treks etc. and how the [experiential program] basically helped them be totally prepared and how they then excelled at it. Along with this, can I say that most of what I have learnt is on the job and that’s why experiential learning means so much to me?
Also, Tech is growing interest area at [this school]. Recruitments are up from x% of the class to y% in the last 4 years. I’m excited about the fact that many of my peers would have the same career inclinations. Can this be another reason for ‘Why [this school]’?
Please let me know what you think. Thanks!
Here’s what we said in return:
We’ll suggest that you build on some ideas that you have here (which you touched on, albeit briefly, in the practice session too) re: experiential learning, focusing much more on the details. Which classes? Which treks? etc. Everyone mentions [specific program] and it’s fine (perhaps expected) that you would do so, too, but make it personal. Who did you speak with about THEIR experience and what did they tell you, and how can you extrapolate that back to your own interests or developmental needs? Yes you can tie into something from your own past or learning style but make sure it’s a solid connection and not just an offhand reference. Again, EXAMPLES, and details, are what you want.
On tech…. not so crazy about that. First of all, it’s what EVERYONE wants to do right now and it’s what everyone is saying (especially applicants like you) — at every school. Saying that there is a lot of recruiting opportunities is a very transactional approach — so again, superficial (sounds like “I want to go there so you’ll get me a job”; also see here for semi-related). So what you shared here is just reflecting the increased interest in tech overall and the improving economy that’s supporting more jobs in tech for MBA grads. Plus, it’s sort of expected that someone like you will be interested in tech. That being said, if you can be SPECIFIC on what tech opportunities you see at [this school] — based on those conversations with the 7 students or your own research — then that can add a lot more weight. “I got so excited when I found out about….” and then explain WHY that made you excited and how you plan to leverage it.
Also, please go so far as saying “7 students”! And talk about how you met them or how you know them. If it was purely through outreach during this process, then that’s valuable; if you already know so-and-so from [this school], that’s also relevant and can be included in the conversation. Again, specifics, specifics, specifics.
We’ve got some real advice in our MBA Interviewing Guide which may be useful as well!
Good luck with these opportunities, Brave Supplicant! You’re making great progress — we cannot wait to hear about your big successes!