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MBA Admissions Interview

Give an Example of an Ethical Dilemma you faced. How did you handle it?

Ethical Dilemma stems from any action that violates information asymmetry or takes advantage of the power dynamics in an organization. The protagonist – you, would feel uncomfortable as the choices are not easy and the ‘right’ path have consequences both on you and for your organization.

The most common ethical dilemma involves the information disparity between a client and the employer. As a service provider, most sales team have a thorough understanding of the client needs. The add-on services and clauses that capture additional revenue from the client might be a strategy that is good for the company’s bottom line. The problem arises when they are abused.

Depending on your job function and industry some of the unethical practices might have become mainstream with no one batting an eyelid to question the practice. Citing examples that demonstrate a complete shaking up of a system or your organization’s common practices might not be believable as the admission team realizes the limited power you had. However, if you were part of a core team in a start-up environment, mentioning such example is ideal.

For a larger organization, the ethical dilemma could arise in six forms:


Tell me a time when you made a Mistake. What did you learn from it?

You might have written, re-written and edited the creases out of the failure essay. So when the admission team asks you again about failure, it might not come in a straightforward manner. Most Alumnus would rephrase the question to - what would be the biggest mistake you have made. Don’t get fooled by the wording. We all make mistakes, every day. That is part of learning. The question is not that.

When someone asks you about failure, face to face, looking for signs of pain, it better be authentic. We as humans have improved our lie detection technique. Interviewers trained with a primer in unravelling incongruent stories would grill you down to the last details, forcing you to connect events, particularly the reverse sequence as authentic applicants could slice and dice the chronology and expand on any aspect of the failure. Even the most well-crafted failure essay if made-up could break down inconsistency when details on location and timeline are re-examined. The applicant making up the story would forcefully slowdown as he connects the story or makes silly grammatical mistakes. Slowing down of narrative might be misconstrued as a process of reflecting on the results, but if the pace varies while reflecting on your biggest mistake/failure and picks up while narrating about...

Business School admission team have the hard job of choosing candidates who have demonstrated a balance in academic rigor, professional growth, extra-curricular and volunteering experience. The most common reason for rejection in admissions is lack of experience.

With close to 25-35% of the applicants receiving interview invites for most top schools, interviews are a relatively easier hurdle to cross.

Any shortcuts – working 2-3 months and getting recommendation letter/experience certificate indicating 2-3 years of experience or made up stories on volunteering are revealed during one on one conversation.

While preparing clients during mock interviews, we reiterate the need to have at least 3 narratives on extra-curricular and volunteering with preference shown to experiences in the past three years. The more far off the applicant go back to cite involvement in the community, the more likely that they would face rejection.

Why School needs proof of volunteering?

According to a 2016 labour survey in the US, the lowest volunteering age was in the 20-24 age group with the highest in the 35-44 and 45-54 range. To break the trend, MBA Applicants who typically start their professional career at the age of 22 would have to break the stereotype, plan or emulate the...

It doesn’t matter whether you believe the interview would be conversational or formal, around 75% of the interviewer will switch from friendly to part confrontational in a role that we have all known as the Devil’s advocate. The interviewer might believe in your achievements, goals or even ambition to change the culture, but they want to see how you respond to skepticism.

Even though Devil’s Advocate was an official position until 1983 in the Catholic Church, primarily created to challenge the evidence offered in favor of sainthood, in admission interviews, the challenges are not one dimensional. Business Schools must evaluate competitive factors while balancing the percentage of international, women and minority students in the class. Any evidence of incongruity or lack of salesmanship could be interpreted as a weakness. In addition to ‘being in the moment’ with enthusiasm and sincerity, here are 6 tough follow-up questions to expect in MBA Admission interview.

1) Career Choice

The choice of a discipline might be the result of a trend you followed, or it might have come from a sequence of events in school that gave you the aha moment. In interviews, the fakeness of a story cannot be hidden with flowery phrases. The interviewer is observing even the minutest twitch, smiles and wordplay. Truth always triumphs. Don’t create stories. Reflect and...

Leadership is not defined to a one-fits-all solution. Depending on the company size, the team’s composition, the culture, and the ‘Founder’s personality, eight categories of leadership play into the daily decision making and problem-solving, in an organization.

While answering the question on leadership, don’t confine yourself to one style but as we had noticed in our mock interview sessions, one prevalent style dominates most candidates. Identify the style. Complement it with styles that became visible during the time of crisis.

1. Stick and Carrot Leadership

This was a primitive form of leadership style that is phasing out in a knowledge economy except in Financial Services and Sales. Most of the conversation with the team is about the bonus and the punishments of missing the target. Glengarry Glen Ross, the 1992 movie is a case study on how the leadership works. If you win the #1 position/close the deal, win the Cadillac Eldorado, second prize is a set of steak knives. The toxicity of the leadership is so addictive that despite the open secret of the horrible work culture, like a cult, employees hang onto every word of the...

Now that you have learned some grooming and dress code best practices (read How to control the First Impression in MBA Admission Interview from our Interview Guide), let us look at the correct posture for your interview.

Often, after the initial introduction, MBA candidates tend to relax and slouch in the chair. Consciously make sure that you don’t do this. It not only reflects your attitude towards the interview but would also impact how you sound.

6 MBA Admission Interview Posture Tips

1) Stand Up straight
while greeting the interviewer: Chest out and stomach in, and you will naturally be in that position.

2) Back against the chair:
The best way to avoid slouching in the chair is to make sure that your back touches the backrest and makes a 60-degree angle.

3) Leaning Forward: The 60-Degree angle ensures that you are leaning forward for the conversation. It shows readiness and genuine interest in the interaction.

4) Watch your Hands: The first non-verbal cue that the interviewer looks for is the position of the hands after a tough question. Don’t cross it and...

I did my homework, researched about the Admission Manager, listened to his tunes, and finally made a pre-interview call. The Admission Manager, who was a part-time music director, wasn't interested in the call. I wasn't completely sold on featuring the MBA program in F1GMAT either since the school didn't publish post-MBA salary. The 15-minute call was one of the most awkward conversations I ever had. Mind you - I have been interviewing for 8 years.

I wasn't motivated. My research was peripheral - learning about the hobbies of the person I was interviewing instead of creating a conversation plan. Don’t make the mistakes I made. Follow these 5-conversation plans before the interview:

1) Be Ready with talking Points

Most admission team specifically mentions that the interview is about evaluating your candidacy, and expects the admission officer/alumnus to lead the conversation. I agree. Don’t interrupt or dominate the conversation, but the most awkward part of most conversations is the starting phase. I was prepared to talk about the admission manager’s passion – music, but felt that it would look forced. I waited till the ‘serious’ talk ended. The hesitancy altered the tone of the conversation. It was like one of the blind dates set up by parents. Both didn’t want to be there. Now it is an obligation.


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