Stanford MBA Interview Experience.
Preparing for your Stanford MBA Interview.
Stanford MBA Interview Questions.


Invitation-Only Interviews.

Stanford interviews are ‘by invitation only,’ meaning that the Admissions Office extends invitations to selected applicants after reading their application – and only those invited applicants can schedule interviews.

Blind Interviews.

Stanford interviews are ‘blind,’ which means that your interviewer will not have seen your entire application before the interview – just your resume. The admissions committee will not show the interviewer the candidate’s application or ask the interviewer to concentrate on specific areas in the application. However, if candidates are interviewed by staff members – which reportedly occurs for approximately 10%–20% of the applicant pool – the staff member will have reviewed the entire application.

Where? Usually, off-campus.

At Stanford, interviews are rarely, but sometimes conducted on the school’s campus. Although the location of your interview has no influence on your chances for admission, in-person interviews can sometimes feel more natural, with you and your interviewer sitting down together in a quiet space at the school to have a conversation about your candidacy. On-campus interviews also allow you to interact with students and admissions representatives during your visit.

Some schools offer off-campus, face-to-face interviews, either in hub city locations to which admissions representatives travel or by engaging the school’s alumni network around the world. Depending on the specific arrangements, these interviews could be conducted in a more public place, like a coffee shop, or at the interviewer’s place of business. Many past clients have reported that their Stanford interviews were held off campus, usually at cafes or the interviewer’s office.

‘On the rare occasion that we do not have an alumni interviewer available in your location at the time needed, or if you will be in a particularly remote location, you have the option to travel to another city or to interview by phone,’ the Stanford website states. These interviews generally follow the same format and carry the same weight in the evaluation process as the other types of interviews the school offers, but some candidates may have difficulty establishing a connection with their interviewer when they are not physically face-to-face. If you do a phone interview, treat it exactly as you would an in-person interview. Find a quiet place with are liable connection and remove any possible distractions.

With Whom? Usually, alumni.

At some schools, only admissions officers conduct candidate interviews, whether on or off campus. In a 2010 Poets & Quants article, Stanford’s then assistant dean of admissions stated that approximately 80%–90% of interviews are conducted by alumni and the remaining portion are conducted by staff members.

Stanford alumni conduct most of the school’s interviews. These individuals are usually graduates who have volunteered to perform this task and who have received some guidelines from the Admissions Office about how to conduct the interviews, including which or what kinds of questions to ask.

Stanford MBA Interview Experience.

Clients who interviewed with Stanford in the past few years consistently described their interview experience as ‘casual,’ ‘friendly,’ and ‘conversational.’ However, some have noted that the questions seemed prepared in advance, and while the interview was conversational, it was also quite businesslike. Stanford is not interested in putting candidates on the spot or trying to stump them, but rather in making sure that applicants have a solid grasp of the ways the MBA program would benefit them and how they would fit with the school’s community. Here is a sample of what past clients have said about their interview experience at Stanford:

It was very congenial.  She gave me the choice of asking between three questions.  The two that I can remember were ‘Tell me about a time when you’ve felt effective’ ‘Tell me about a time when you’ve made an impact’.  Then she probed into my answers to try to get more details (e.g. ‘How did you go about doing that?’). Compared to other interviews there were less questions, but she took more time to go in depth with each question. The interviewer doesn’t know the stories in your application because they only have your resume.  Those are your best stories (presumably) so make sure you can talk to them when asked and have a few backups that will match up with different behavioral scenarios. 

The interviewer was friendly and pretty informal. The interviewer started off by introducing herself and pointing out pictures of her kids and saying that she didn’t have a lot of influence over the admission decision. She also started off by positioning the interview as being very different from HBS (she mentioned that she had interviewed with HBS and it was very focused on a particular area whereas this would be more conversational).

The interviewer told me he may interrupt me to ask questions, and apologized in advance if it came off rude. If he did ask questions, it’s because there were things he was looking for or wanted more detail on. My interview ended after 45 minutes (15 min early) because he said he had no follow up questions to my stories and I did a good job portraying them. He took notes throughout, and interrupted one time to ask a probing question.

Preparing for your Stanford MBA Interview.

Although the focus and style of Stanford’s admissions interviews can vary, you should expect to be asked about your personal, professional, and academic experiences and – in most cases – will receive questions meant to reveal your knowledge about the school.

Stanford interviews typically start with an open-ended question or prompt, such as ‘Tell me about yourself.’ or ‘Walk me through your job history.’ This is your opportunity to offer a comprehensive overview of your experience to date and to touch on – very briefly – some of your major accomplishments, both professional and personal.

Our interview reports for Stanford indicate that ‘Why business school?’ is often asked in the school’s interviews, along with further career goals questions, such as ‘What does your career look like X years from now?’.

Stanford’s interviews consistently include very school-specific questions. Past clients noted that they were asked some variation of the question ‘Why Stanford?’ If you are not ready to answer these types of questions in detail, you must invest the time necessary to get to know Stanford thoroughly and to identify the programs, centers, clubs, classes, professors, extracurricular opportunities, and other resources it offers that relate directly to your plans and your personality.

Stanford wants to hear specifics about your professional accomplishments and leadership potential, so be prepared to provide detailed information and stories in these subject areas beyond what is presented in your resume. Many past candidates were given such prompts as ‘Tell me about a time when you took initiative to make a change in your organization.’ and ‘Tell me about a time when you worked on a team and you weren’t the leader of the team.’

Although personal questions appear to be relatively rare during Stanford interviews, preparing to answer them is always a good idea. Such questions in the past have included ‘What is your proudest moment?’

Mock interviews can be particularly helpful way to prepare for your interview. Try using a timer to get a sense of how long you typically take to answer each question, and practice in front of a mirror. Don’t want to go it alone? Learn more about my Mock Interview Service here.

Listen to an excerpt from a mock interview. Question: Why an MBA?

Stanford MBA Interview Questions.

Although you can never be certain which questions you will receive, and questions will undoubtedly vary to some degree, these samples serve to illustrate how a Stanford interview is likely to progress.

Stanford Mock Interview 1
  1. Walk me through your resume
  2. What was the biggest challenge you faced?
  3. Was it hard to co-ordinate between three countries?
  4. Was there friction between you and the offsite team?
  5. What was your greatest success?
  6. Tell me about your Rubik’s Cube solving robot.
  7. (Behavioral Question) Give me an example of when you overcame a hurdle.
  8. Any questions for me?
Stanford Mock Interview 2
  1. Tell me about yourself.
  2. (Behavioral Question) Tell me about a time you impacted an organization.
  3. (Behavioral Question) Tell me about a time you exceeded your authority.
  4. (Behavioral Question) Tell me about a time you didn’t reach a goal that you had.
  5. (Behavioral Question) Tell me about a time you received unexpected feedback.
  6. What do you like to do for fun?
Stanford Mock Interview 3
  1. Why an MBA, whyStanford?
  2. Whats one thing that you did that you’re really proud of?
  3. (Behavioral Question) Have you ever worked with a manager that you didn’t like?
  4. (Behavioral Question) Have you ever had to convince your team or leadership to do something that you believe in?
  5. Follow up questions to question above
  6. How do you work with all the different people that you do? How do you communicate with them?
  7. (Behavioral Question) Have you ever gotten a piece of constructive feedback and what did you do with that?
Stanford Mock Interview 4
  1. What is the world’s biggest misconception about World War II?
  2. Why Stanford? 
  3. What business school will you go to if you don’t get into GSB? 
  4. Why do you like etymology?
  5. Tell me about current company.
  6. Tell me about the hardest situation you’ve ever been in within PE? What did you learn from it?

  7. (Behavioral Question) Tell me about a time you had tension with someone you work with and how you overcame it?
  8. What will you do with you MBA?
  9. What else should I have asked you?
Stanford Mock Interview 5
  1. Tell me about yourself
  2. (Behavioral Question) Tell me about a time when you led a team / did something innovative.
  3. (Behavioral Question) Tell me about a time when you a led a team on a difficult project.
  4. (Behavioral Question) Tell me about a time when you initiated a project.
  5. (Behavioral Question) Tell me about a time when you identified an opportunity before anyone else.
  6. Tell me more about your thesis in college.
  7. Do you have any questions for me?
    • Almost as an afterthought, he asked me whyStanford in particular
  8. For most of the questions, he had a similar set of follow-ups, e.g.:
    • How did your team / audience react to your decision/actions? How did you get buy in to your ideas?What was the outcome / takeaway?
Stanford Mock Interview 6
  1. How was it that you met Derrick Bolton?
  2. What has been your proudest moment?
  3. Tell me something you’ve learned about yourself.
  4. Why were you selected over four other officers to be the Executive Officer?
  5. How did you lead them even though they outranked you?
  6. (Behavioral Question) Tell me about a time you had to procure resources for your organization.
  7. How did you go about it?
  8. (Behavioral Question) Tell me about a time when you encountered an obstacle or someone prevented you from doing something?
  9. (Behavioral Question) Tell me about a time when you showed initiative.
  10. What questions do you have for me?
Stanford Mock Interview 7
  1. Why an MBA? Why Stanford?
  2. Why did you choose Stanford when you consider other schools?
  3. (Behavioral Question) Tell me a time when you created something / were creative.
  4. (Behavioral Question) Tell me a time when you deal with a difficult team member.
  5. (Behavioral Question) Tell me a time when you can’t make the deadline and what you did.
  6. (Behavioral Question) Tell me a time when your belief was challenged.

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