Preparing for your MBA interview

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Now that you’ve submitted your MBA application you can start preparing for the next stage. If you’re invited to meet us for an interview it’s important that you are ready to tell us about yourself and how the MBA fits with your personal and professional ambitions.

The interview is a chance for you to add an extra dimension to your written application and allows us to hear directly from you about your motivations and goals. We also want to learn more about your career aspirations, wider interests and how the MBA fits with these. What is it about the MBA programme that fits with your professional ambitions? Are there particular modules or Professors that specialise in areas you’re interested in?

Crystal Grant, Director of Admissions, and Phil Carter, Head of Programmes Marketing & Recruitment, have put together an in-depth guide on how to succeed in your MBA interview.

Before your interview

You only get one chance to make a great impression, so be prepared!

  • Ask yourself the tough questions first. Applying for an MBA is an introspective process so we expect you to have really thought about your motivation for an MBA and studying at Imperial – and what you have to offer the programme. The questions that we ask shouldn’t come as much of a surprise if you’ve taken the time to reflect on your experience and goals.
  • Re-read your application. We will ask you about things you covered in your application, so don’t worry if you feel like you’re covering some of the same ground. We like to hear about your experience and objectives directly from you. Make sure you’ve re-read your application, as we might discuss specific points from it.
  • Practice ‘out loud’. You may be a seasoned interviewee. But if not, or you are modest when talking about your strengths, it can be very helpful to practice this out loud with a friend or colleague. However, whilst practice is important, don’t try to script your answers as we want you to convey your personality to us and natural answers are the best way to do this.
  • Make space for your interview. On the day of the interview, make sure you have a quiet, appropriate space for your interview – and if you’re using Skype on your phone, place it on a proper stand and keep it still. Walking home, or sitting in the back of a cab or in a noisy café isn’t professional – and disrupts your opportunity to build rapport with your interviewer.

During your interview

We hold interviews because we want to find out more about the real you, so be yourself and be specific!

  • Tell your story. We want to hear about you. Who are you and how do you fit with the MBA? This is the key question you need to focus on in your MBA interview. We know the Business School in detail, but we want to get to know you. Use the interview to showcase your personality and display an honest perception of yourself so that we can see what you would bring to the Imperial community. We want you to be a good fit for the MBA programme, but we also want the MBA programme to be a good fit for you.
  • Keep it professional. We are not trying to catch you out or put you through an unpleasant grilling. We want to bring out the best in you. But this friendly approach should not be mistaken for encouragement to lower your guard or be casual. Treat it professionally. Although ‘one size doesn’t fit all’, and the interview will not be probing for a specific description match as a job interview would, there is no reason to treat it in a less professional manner.
  • Listening skills are important too! Make sure you listen to and answer the question you’ve been asked – you may have some examples or achievements that you’d like to talk about, but make sure that they address the actual questionyou’ve been asked.
  • And finally… Dress appropriately for an interview and be polite and courteous – with absolutely no swearing. These should be obvious points, but we’re mentioning them for a reason!

Finishing up…

Don’t forget that the interview is a two-way process: it’s a great opportunity for you to get our ‘take’ on studying an Imperial MBA. Here are a few of our suggested dos and don’ts:

  • Do prepare a couple of questions in advance – an intelligent question or two at the end of the interview can add to the overall impression you make.
  • Don’t ask basic questions that you can easily find the answers to on our website – we won’t mind answering them, but it’s a shame to waste the opportunity to ask something more meaningful.
  • Do feel free to ask something specific to your interviewer – we all have different backgrounds and experiences, so it’s absolutely fine to ask for our personal point of view on the programme or Imperial in general.
  • Don’t ask for feedback on your interview or how likely it is that you’ll get in to the programme – it will make your interviewer feel really awkward, and that’s not the way you want them to remember you! All decisions are made at our Admissions Committee meetings, based on a review of your full application and in the context of that admissions round as a whole.

After your interview

We know that the time between the end of the interview and receiving a decision on your application can be stressful, but try not to worry!

  • Sometimes it can be tempting to play the interview back in your mind – particularly if you wish you’d given a stronger answer or better example – but we understand that interviewees can feel quite pressured and nerves are normal. The interview is one of several components that feeds into the overall decision, so a minor slip-up won’t ruin your chances.
  • We work very hard to stick to the decision deadlines that we publish on our website, but when we say “week commencing…”, it may very well be that you hear from us at the end of the week. Not having heard from us until the Friday shouldn’t be seen as a bad sign.
  • We’re looking for fit with our programme objectives and School values – and you should be too! If you are unsuccessful, don’t take it personally – it just means that we don’t think that the programme-candidate fit is right, and that goes both ways. Imperial may not be the best place for you to do your MBA – but there will be a School that’s a good fit for you.

Best of luck with your interview – the Admissions Committee look forward to getting to know you better!

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Crystal Grant

About Crystal Grant

Head of Admissions
Head of Admissions