Interviews can be nerve-wracking. Whether for a job or your MBA, there’s the fear of making a gaffe or giving a rambling answer. But with the right preparation, you can increase your odds of success and calm your nerves in the process. The admission interview is only one part of the holistic application process and while it is not considered more or less important than any other portion of your application, the interview is the only face-to-face admissions interaction you have during the application process. It is your opportunity to further expound upon your essays, experiences and desires for attending Booth.
Unique to Booth is the opportunity for every Evening MBA and Weekend MBA candidate to interview (after submitting the entire application). Admissions interviews take place at the Gleacher Center, our downtown campus, and are considered ‘blind’ meaning you will be interviewed by one of our trained admissions committee members who have only seen your resume. The admissions committee includes alumni, current students, and the Evening MBA and Weekend MBA team members.
Here are 10 tips to help you prepare for your admissions interview:
#1 First impressions matter.
Show up approximately ten minutes prior to your interview. If you are stuck in traffic, call ahead and let us know. Bring a copy of your resume for your interviewer. Wear a suit-dress the part. These are basics, that have a significant impact.
#2 Be authentic.
This is one of the biggest pieces of advice we give: be authentic. The students at Chicago Booth do not come from a cookie-cutter background. With a diverse student body, we want to know what makes you unique and what you will contribute to the community. From consulting to commercial banking, entrepreneurship to energy, or manufacturing to marketing, our student body comes from a variety of backgrounds and industries.
Did you know there are 12 research and learning centers at Booth and one of them is entirely devoted to entrepreneurship and innovation? Or that there are 34 Evening and Weekend student groups such as Consulting Club to Social Impact Club, and Running Club to Built at Booth? By getting to know Booth prior to coming in for your interview, you will be better prepared to ask savvy questions, and prepare solid examples about how you will take advantage of the myriad of possibilities at Chicago Booth.
#4 Give specific examples.
Consider two to three key points you would like to get across during your interview. Did you go on an epic trip that changed your life perspective and life plan? Did you have the opportunity to lead a project within your organization and learn key insights from the experience? Prepare your answers in advance and create a mental check-list to go through during your interview. Remember that the interviews are very conversational, so you may need to use creativity to work your key points into the conversation.
# 5 Listen.
Being a good listener is as important as being able to share your ideas. Focus on what question the interviewing is asking of you. Listen for what is really being asked of you. Take a moment after the question to prepare your response.
# 6 Ask good questions.
Current students and alumni offer a very unique glimpse into the Chicago Booth community. We encourage you to come prepared with specific questions about the student experience. Some examples are: Why did you choose Booth? What challenges have you encountered? What is the best part of the Booth community? What has been your favorite class? Even if the interviewer is not in the exact same situation as you, more than likely they will be able to draw on examples of fellow classmates to further showcase the experience you can expect at Booth.
#7 What’s your story?
Professor Craig Wortmann focuses extensively on the importance of storytelling in multiple courses he teaches at Booth. In his book, What's Your Story?: Using Stories to Ignite Performance and Be More Successful, he demonstrates how stories impact some of the most common performance challenges including leadership, strategic selling and motivation. As you prepare your specific examples to share during the admissions interview, consider how they tell your story of leadership, and how they have both motivated you as well as others.
Practice makes perfect. While you might feel like a seasoned pro at interviews or conversations, there are instances when nerves catch us off guard and get the best of us. By putting together your admissions essays you have prepared for a significant part of the interview; however, consider additional questions that will be asked of you. Practice your answers in a mock interview setting with a colleague, friends, family- anyone that will give honest and constructive feedback. Some questions to consider are what accomplishments are you most proud of? Who do you look up to as a leader and why? Why an MBA?
#9 Why do you want to be here and not somewhere else?
Based on the publication of essays by professor Harry Davis, the admissions interview is a time for you to talk with the admissions committee about your career goals, why you are interested in an MBA, and most importantly, why a Chicago Booth MBA. Use this time to express how the Booth MBA will enable you to grow, how you will contribute to the community, as well as what you will do with your Booth degree.
#10 Follow Up.
Regardless of how you feel your interview went, follow up is crucial. It is good practice to be proactive and send a thank you email to your interviewer or the admissions team. Giving an in-person thank you to your hosts and staff you interacted with is a sure way to leave a positive lasting first impression.