Alumni tips for the MBA interview

April 21, 2020

Personal alumni tips for the MBA interview from Valentin Mladenov

My name is Valentin and I am an alumnus of the MBA program of the WU Executive Academy. I would like to share with you some tips that I wish I had received before my MBA interview. For each of the burning questions about this interview, I tried to give my experience and tips based on it.

Taking a few moments to prepare for an interview a few days in advance can help you organize your thoughts and make a convincing argument for your candidacy in the MBA program.

What is the purpose of the MBA interview?

The purpose of the MBA interview is twofold. First of all, it is a chance for you to meet your academic director, ask questions about the program and the curriculum and meet your potential future colleagues. Second of all, it is a chance for your academic director to meet you, get to know you better and learn about your future plans. At least this is what the interview looked like for my program – the Professional MBA with the specialization in Project Management at the Vienna University of Business and Economics.

My personal experience from my MBA interview was that I met some of my future colleagues. I heard them talk about their experience, their future plans, their goals and ambitions. I was always a bit scared before the interview that maybe I do not belong in the program. My fears were proved wrong during exactly this interview. I also met my academic director and we started building a student-to-teacher relationship even before the program started. Moreover, we also started a professional-to-professional relationship.

It may be possible that you get a feeling that this program is not the right one for your (or maybe only the specialization). I can only advise you to be honest with yourself and your academic director. I remember one of the other 2 people at my interview ended up switching their specialization, because they realized that they already had what the Project Management specialization was offering.

How should I prepare for my MBA interview in advance?

First of all – relax! This is not a job interview and your future does not depend on your performance. Your academic director is here to help you understand what you are up to and what you want. There are no questions about IQ or emotional intelligence.

I can give you the following tips:

  • Prepare a short statement about you and your career – a statement that you can deliver fast and with confidence. Be truthful – you don't need to impress anyone.
  • Set aside some time to think about your future. Answer questions like: “Where do I see myself after 5 years?” “What would I do if I had a magic wand that could grant me anything I want?”; “How can the MBA program help me achieve my goals?” Most probably you won't get those exact questions, but the main point here is to know for yourself how you are going to use the MBA in your future career.
  • When you talk about your future remember to use SMART goals (you will probably hear this over and over again during your MBA program): Simple Measurable Achievable Realistic and Time-bound goals. For example: “In 5 years from now I want to work as a project manager in a Fortune-500 company and be responsible for projects with budget of more than $1,000,000”.
  • Think about and list your motives for choosing your specialization. What are you hoping to achieve with that specialization? How does it complement your profile?
  • Prepare a list of question that you want to ask. Anything that is unclear, that worries you or that makes you uncomfortable goes here. Write your questions on a sheet of paper and bring it with you. If you are like me you will be really stressed during the interview (and you shouldn't be :-D).
  • Make sure you prepare all the documents required by your program manager. As far as I could remember I was required to bring my original diplomas.
  • Prepare and print a map of the interview location and if possible go there 1 day before the interview to make sure you will not get lost and be late.
  • It could be a good idea to inquire about the dress-code of the institution where the interview will take place. Better safe than sorry.

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