INSEAD MBA Interview Overview.
Influence of interview on admissions decision? Low to Moderate.
Imagine having 100 students and alumni, scattered across the globe conducting MBA admissions interviews for your school. Jane concludes that candidate #1 is ‘great’ and Bill relays that another candidate, candidate #2 is ‘a good fit’. You only have one place left to fill in your class. Which candidate should you choose?
The truth is that with so many interviewers, it’s impossible for you (the admissions committee) to quality control the process and make good use of the qualitative feedback you receive from interviewers. Schools generally give student and alumni interviewers a list of questions to choose from during the interview. Yet the admissions committee is really only interested in one question: Would this candidate make for a great classmate at our school? Is this person a good fit with our school culture?
Success = persuading the student or alumni that ‘Yes!’ you would be a great classmate and you are a fit with the culture. Failure = ‘No’. To totally fail you have to really mess up. So while student and alumni-led interviews can’t help your application that much, they can certainly hurt it.
When a school relies primarily on students and alumni to conduct interviews, the interview carries less weight in the admissions decision process (relative to admissions committee-led interviews). By extension, the written application takes on greater importance. MBA programs with student or alumni-led interviews include: Berkeley Haas, Chicago Booth, Columbia, Dartmouth Tuck, Duke Fuqua, INSEAD, Kellogg, London Business School, Michigan Ross, Stanford, UCLA Anderson, Wharton, and Yale.
When a school relies exclusively (or nearly exclusively) on a small group of trained admissions committee members to conduct interviews, the interview plays a greater role in the admissions process (relative to student/alumni-led interviews). MBA programs with admissions committee-led interviews include: Harvard Business School, MIT Sloan, UVA Darden and NYU Stern.
Mock MBA Interview.
While each MBA program has a slightly different approach to the types of questions asked in interview, generally speaking there are no big surprises. The goal of your INSEAD MBA interviewer isn’t to throw you curve balls but to offer up questions that give you the opportunity to highlight your professional and personal accomplishments, your strengths/weaknesses, your goals, decision to pursue an MBA and why INSEAD is of interest to you in particular.
When faced with an impending INSEAD MBA interview, you may be tempted to scour the internet and amass an exhaustive list of interview questions. What will you do with all those questions? Most INSEAD MBA interviewees will think through answers to each and every one in their head. Sometimes they’ll write out their exact answers on paper and then practice them verbatim. The problem with those approaches is that the first one isn’t very efficient and then second one will leave you sounding robotic when you rattle off your answer out loud.
When I work with INSEAD MBA candidates during a mock interview session, we focus on developing answers to a few specific questions (like Tell me about yourself? What are your goals? Why MBA? Why school X?). We then use other questions (Strengths/Weakness?) and behavioral questions (Tell me about a time when…?) to develop a core set of stories. It might surprise you to learn that most people have just 4-6 core stories. I teach clients to leverage a single story to answer multiple interview questions.
Below you can listen to a former client receive feedback on his answer to Why an MBA?. You can earn more about my Mock Interview Service here ($150 for 1.5-hour session).