MBA interview questions and answer tips for some tough & hard ones


When a seemingly simple and innocuous question is put to you at an MBA admissions interview, you may start to feel overconfident and tell yourself that you’re almost there. But beware. Looks are deceptive, and you may be about to trip and fall.
A few business schools are known to ask their MBA applicants bizarre interview questions, such as, “If you were an animal, what animal would you be?”
You could confidently say, ‘Lion – because I work for 4 hours a day and sleep for 20!‘ and you’ll still be scratching your head till the results are declared, wondering if it was the right thing to say.
There’s really no way to prepare for such unconventional questions and there may be no right or wrong answer. You just have to do your best on the spot.
But there are questions which you, as an applicant, can expect and prepare for.
First let’s look at the most common questions that are also among the hardest MBA questions to answer.
Q: What is your biggest weakness?
The key to answering this question is to know that the interviewer is trying to find out whether you have done some introspection on your own personality, and thought about your biggest weakness and how to overcome it. Show humility and self-awareness when answering.
For example, if you have not mentioned much social service or participation in community programs, the interviewer may try to find out whether you have identified this shortcoming.
Your reply to the question may get him interested if you say that you feel you have not done adequate work for the community and are making sincere efforts to involve yourself in more programs. You could give an example of a program you have started to attend.
Q: Tell me about an experience when you tasted failure.
You are fully prepared to answer a question about your successes, but you don’t normally expect a question about your failures. The objective of the interviewer is not just to find out where you failed but also to know whether you have learned from the experience.
Instead of only narrating an episode where you failed, you also need to show how it taught you something, how you faced your fears, and how you emerged stronger.
For example, suppose you failed in your first year of engineering, because of some reasons (ranging from a lack of seriousness to a severe disconnect from the chosen subject).
Instead of giving up and letting the failures pile on, you did some self-introspection to understand where you were going wrong. You then created a study plan for yourself to not just catch up with the subject but also be among the top 10% of the graduating class.
By doing so, you created a positive experience from a humbling one. Remember to take the blame and not pass it on to someone else. [Read how to deal with low percentage / GPA in college]
Be wary of giving an answer that really only hides a success story.
For example, “We missed the delivery deadline, but we delivered a product of great quality.” The interviewer may feel you are avoiding the question. Don’t give an answer that shows your failure caused difficulties for your organization.
Q: Describe how you worked with a bad manager.
The interviewer wants to find out whether you are a people person and can manage difficult colleagues and classmates once you have been admitted into the MBA program. While answering the question, you need to keep at bay any bitterness from your experience with a poor manager and try to show that you are capable of being empathetic with and sensitive to others.
For example, maybe a senior manager you worked with was initially under the impression that you were trying to replace him and didn’t respect his experience and knowledge. You had a personal discussion with him where you cleared his apprehensions and expressed interest in learning from him.
This transformed your relationship, and the senior manager not only passed on some rare tips but also provided you an environment where you could give your best. You have shown that you not only confronted the situation but handled it maturely and professionally to make things better for yourself, the manager, and your organization.
Q: Explain a conflict at work and the role that you played.
The interviewer is trying to test your emotional intelligence and what picture of your company and colleagues you give others. You cannot heap blame on someone for a conflict as that would be like throwing that person under the bus.
You cannot say you really had no role in it and only others were involved as this could mean that you aren’t important enough at your workplace. You need to show that you were capable of seeing both sides of the conflict. Of course, you shouldn’t imply that you started the conflict.
It pays to be ready with an example. Explain who was involved in the conflict, how it was addressed, what your role was, and what the outcome was. How did it shape your leadership style? Show what the resolution of the conflict taught you. Were you able to use what you learned to resolve another conflict? If yes, you win full points.
Q: Can you describe an ethical dilemma you faced at work?
The interviewer wants to test your moral compass but also whether you have the maturity to resolve such situations.
Suppose you found when compiling data that your company had been exaggerating numbers to keep the investors happy. You know that your manager had a hand in the fudging but should you confront him and let him know that you have found out the fraud, or should you let things be?
You should explain to the interviewer how you analyzed the situation and what action you took that shows not only that you want to score high on the moral scale but also that you handled the problem with tact and maturity.

Leave a Reply