Almost every MBA program requires an interview in the application process. It is as much a way for applicants to determine whether the school is a good fit for them as it is the school vetting the applicant. For this reason, having genuine, intelligent, and relevant questions prepared ahead of time is very important.
Though all the top schools involve an interview, there are many differences in how it's done, including the format, what questions are asked, and who the interviewer is, among others. Some schools interview almost everyone while others only extend an invitation to those they are the most seriously considering. Here are details on each M7’s interview process to help you prepare.
The Most Common Interview Questions of the Top 10 MBA Programs
Every MBA program looks for different qualities and characteristics when interviewing applicants. To help you prepare for each individual interview, we've compiled all the most frequently asked questions for the top business schools. Drop your email below and we'll send it straight to your inbox.
Interview Formats of the M7 MBA Programs
The GSB interviews only a select number of applicants, usually two to three people for every one spot in the class. So, being extended an invitation to interview is a positive sign but not a guarantee. GSB says that in the interview, it focuses on past actions, including what you have done and how you have done it. You’ll be asked about meaningful professional or community-based experiences from the past few years.
- Interviewer: Alumni or admissions officer
- Format: Virtual or in-person
- Length: 45-60 minutes
- Timeline: Late September to late November (Round 1), mid-January to mid-March (Round 2), and late April to mid-May (Round 3)
Harvard Business School
HBS also does not extend invitations flippantly. Around 20-25% of all those who submit an application will be asked to interview. Uniquely, HBS requires interviewees to write a “post-interview reflection” within 24 hours. Interviewers prepare heavily, they review your entire application ahead of time. HBS stresses that it is a conversation designed to help the school learn more about you, tailored specifically to your candidacy.
- Interviewer: Admissions board member
- Format: In-person (in a major city), Zoom, or on-campus
- Length: 30 minutes
- Timeline: October (Round 1), late January to early March (Round 2)
Applying to the 2+2 program at HBS? Read: How to Ace Your HBS 2+2 Interview.
University of Chicago Booth
Around half of all applicants are extended an invitation to interview at Booth. Though Booth interviews more applicants than GSB or HBS, getting an invite is still positively indicative that your application is being strongly considered. According to past interviewees, questions include “Why an MBA?”, “Why Booth?”, “Tell me about yourself,” and “Tell me about your leadership style,” among others.
- Interviewer: Current student, graduate, or admissions staff member
- Format: On-campus, in-person, or virtual
- Length: 30-45 minutes (including about 10 minutes for Q&A)
- Timeline: Mid-October to early November (Round 1), end of January to February (Round 2), mid-April to mid-June (Round 3)
University of Pennsylvania Wharton
The interview at Wharton is very unique. Instead of the traditional conversation with an adcom member, those who are asked to interview will participate in a Team-Based Discussion (TBD) with four to five other applicants. There is a short, ten-minute one-on-one after the TBD. About 40% of all the applicants are extended an invitation to interview.
- Interviewer: 4-5 other applicants and then a member of the admissions committee
- Format: Virtual
- Length: 45 minutes
- Timeline (2022-2023): October 25 (Round 1), February 17 (Round 2), April 13 (Round 3), May 25 (Deferred)
Read our full article on Wharton’s interview here: Wharton Interview Guide: The Team-Based Discussion
Northwestern University Kellogg
Your interviewer at Northwestern will not have read your application, only the resume. Kellogg emphasizes that it’s a way for you to share or elaborate on the life experiences that led you to an MBA and the school. It’s also unique in that it interviews as many of its applicants as possible.
- Interviewer: Current student, alumni, or admissions staffers
- Format: Virtual
- Length: 30-45 minutes
- Timeline: Applicants schedule their own interviews within six weeks of the application deadline
Columbia Business School
Like Kellogg, the interviewer at CBS will only have seen your resume, not your application. It sends invitations sparingly so being asked to interview is a good sign but not a guarantee. Unlike most other programs, an interview is not required for acceptance.
- Interviewer: Usually an alumnus, occasionally an admissions officer or current student
- Format: In-person or virtual
- Length: 45-60 minutes
- Timeline: Variable, within six weeks of submitting the application
Massachusetts Institute of Technology Sloan
Sloan’s interview is slightly different from the others and is commonly referred to as a “Behavioral Event-Based Interview.” Questions will almost exclusively focus on your past actions rather than hypotheticals. They want to know why you made the decisions you did. Interviewers will ask a lot of follow-up questions, so you’ll answer fewer questions than for other programs. Typically, around 20-25% of all applicants are asked to interview.
- Interviewer: Admissions committee member
- Format: Virtual
- Length: 30-45 minutes
- Timeline: Invitations are sent on a rolling basis until the decision deadline
For the entire MBA application process but interviews specifically, it is very beneficial to work with a coach for live practice. Below are some of our top recommendations, but you can browse them all here.
MBA Interview Tips
Interviews, like every other part of the MBA application, require a lot of preparation. Make a list of the main stories and examples you want to use and practice saying them. For many people, using a structure like STAR makes it easier to frame the response in a more methodical way. Here are several other tips to help you nail the interview.
Prepare differently for different interviewers
The questions that you should ask an alumnus or current student are different from those you’d ask an admissions committee member. Remain cognizant of this fact and prepare your answers accordingly.
Show genuine enthusiasm for the specific program
Schools want to admit students that actually want to go there. Go into the interview well-versed in the school’s specificities. What are its strengths and weaknesses? What are some of the classes you’re most interested in? What attracts you to this program over others?
Remember, this interview is also a chance for you to see if it’s a good fit for your background, interests, and goals. The questions you ask should be ones that you are genuinely interested in. You are the only you applying. Don’t talk about what you think the interviewer wants to hear.
Don’t ask yes/no questions or ones that have a “right” answer
Basically, don’t ask them about any information that you could get in a ten-second Google search. The interview is a chance for you to learn things about the program that you couldn’t get anywhere else and that are aligned with your interests. Relatedly, only ask questions that you think the interviewer will actually have an answer to.
10 Questions to Ask Your MBA Interviewer
As mentioned, interviews are a great way for the applicant to get to know the program more intimately. You should have questions that you want to ask the interviewer prepared ahead of time. Doing so shows that you have a genuine interest in the program and is also beneficial for your own knowledge. Use these as a foundation to start thinking about your own.
- What are the types of students who most succeed in the MBA program here? What traits do they possess?
- What was your experience like at the school? How has it affected your career since? (Alumni)
- I have [X career interest). How can the school benefit people with this goal? (Admissions officer)
- What are some of the most popular classes?
- With my background and interests, where do you think I should focus my time and energy during the MBA program?
- How does the school/program define success in both the short and long term? (Admissions officer)
- What is the alumni community like? What has your experience been with it? (Alumni)
- What do you wish that you had done differently during your own MBA program? (Alumni)
- With my background in mind, what do you think the biggest advantages of this business school are? (Admissions officer)
- What are some of the most impactful things you learned during your MBA program and how have they helped you? (Alumni)
We hope you find these helpful! Applying for an MBA can definitely be a stressful process but with preparation, coaching, and time, you’ll be able to submit the best version of your candidacy possible.
Here are a few other articles that you may find useful:
- Six Coaches' Best Advice for the MBA Interview
- How to Build a Lasting Connection in Your MBA Interview
- How to Ace Your MBA Interview: With Prep Questions & Answers
- How to Nail Your Virtual MBA Interview
- How to Ace Your HBS MBA Interview
- Ace Your Columbia Business School MBA Interview: Expert Tips and Sample Questions
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