Wondering about MBA interview etiquette? Although a lot has changed since the pandemic, there are some MBA interview guidelines that remain the same.
- Choose in-person, if possible.
In the era of zoom, you will almost always be given the option of having a virtual interview, or an in-person one. Although the virtual option might feel like an easier, lower-stakes choice, I strongly encourage you to meet with your interviewer in-person. (And I also encourage you to interview on campus, if given the choice.) It’s simply easier to connect when you’re in the same room with someone, and it also demonstrates effort and investment. Similarly, traveling to campus telegraphs that you’re serious about the school. Gestures like these can help reassure the Admissions Committee that you are making an informed choice to apply. As a bonus, the Committee might well assume that you are more likely to come than someone who didn’t take the time to interview in-person – and since schools want to admit people who will come, thereby protecting their yield, it’s a smart strategic move to meet your interviewer in real life. (On a related note, definitely initiate an interview, if that’s an option.)
- Dress Up.
This might seem old fashioned, but it’s still a good idea to wear a suit (or suit equivalent) to your MBA interview. You never know when your interviewer might hold it against you, and think that your casual attire signals a lack of interest. Unless a school specifically tells you NOT to wear business formal, I would err on the side of caution. This is a situation where it’s much better to be overdressed than underdressed.
- Choose Students or Admissions Officers over Alums.
Sometimes, you will be given a choice of interviewing with a student, an alum or an admissions officer. If this is the case, I strongly suggest that you avoid the alumni option. I understand that this is a potentially controversial statement, so please let me explain. Alumni interviews can be fabulous, and it is theoretically true that all interviews are weighted equally in the process. However, there is simply more variation in the content, format and quality of alumni interviews. Alums often (to speak broadly) aren’t trained as systematically as students or admissions officers. Also, anecdotally, I hear MANY stories (gathered over more than a decade as an admissions consultant) about troubling patterns. Alums sometimes fail to show up for interviews or to schedule them. They are also more prone than admissions officers or students to spend the interview time talking about themselves, to ask intrusive questions, to bash the school, and to generally fail to get to know the candidate. This lack of knowledge about the candidate will likely impede the interviewer’s ability to advocate for them. Obviously, there are also wonderful alumni interviewers, but for all of these reasons, it’s a riskier choice.
- Write Thank You Notes.
This might seem super obvious, but please write your interviewer a thank you note. The note can be brief, but a sincere acknowledgment of the interviewer’s time is always a good idea.