Interview Guides

Purpose of interview for MBA program

  • To get to know your personality and social skills

  • To better understand your future employment potential

  • To better promote the program

  • To learn more about you

How to succeed from the interview?

Non-Verbal Body Language

Appropriateness is different according to culture, the sex of the interviewer and the purpose of the interview.

Before the interview

1. Establish Your Objective

  • How do you plan to market yourself?

  • What would you like to impress the interviewer with?

  • How can you reinforce your strengths and address your key weakness?

  • Do you know much about the school?

  • How did you decide which school to attend?

2. Be Prepared: four things you will need to know when you prepare for interviews:

  • Interview format: with alumni, with admission’s officers, or with 2nd year students.

  • Your objective.

  • What the school offers.

  • What questions they are likely to ask.

3. Know the Different Types of Interviewers:

  • Interview with alumni: chattier, interested in promoting the school, not as tough as the admissions officers.

  • Interview with admission’s officers: smooth interview, tend to be extremely focused, tend to be short.

  • Interview with 2nd year students: less smooth, likely to ask tough questions, assessing you to see if you’ll be an asset to the student group.

4. Typical interview format: every type of interview will include the following-welcome/greeting.

  • a few small-talk questions: How are you?, Was it easy to find the location?, Is it your first time here, What do you think of this country (if the interview is taking places at an international location), etc.

  • Some comments about the program and the school.

  • Detailed questions tracking your education and work history or your responses on the school’s application form.

  • An opportunity for you to ask questions.

  • Conclusion.

5. Practice, practice, practice!

6. Get to the interview location 20 minutes early and stop in the restroom for 5 minutes to readjust your nylons or tie and fix yourself up. Arrive at the interview area 15 minutes early.


-Do not wimp out on the hand shake! Both Taiwanese men and women shake hands incorrectly, preferring a “deadfish” handshake which screams lack of confidence.

-Regardless if your interviewer is male or female, the hand shake is the same and should be firm with both palms touching and a slight shake.

-Do not shake with just your fingertips (deadfish style). This type of handshake does not demand the respect that you deserve.

-Look directly into the person’s eyes while shaking his/her hand and say your full name. “Hello. I am Tom Wang. Nice to meet you.”

During the Interview

1. Be confident and pleasant.

2. Be aware of the nonverbal message you deliver.

3. Dress appropriately: business attire. Do not wear short skirts or jeans

4. Do not bring food or a coffee from Starbucks to the interview. You may bring a bottle of water, but you will probably be offered water or tea and should politely accept.

5. Treat the practice interiew like the real thing.

6. Ask questions

  • That show your knowledge of the program.

  • That show your proactive approach to your future career.

  • Do not ask yes or no questions.

  • Do not ask questions you know the interviewer won’t be able to answer.

  • Plan to ask several questions about the same subject. For example, ask the interviewer to compare subjects like his/her school and a competitive program that you are considering. After he or she makes her point, you can ask questions about one or more points in greater detail. If some points are not addressed, you may ask the interviewer why he or she does not mention xxx.

  • Do not memorize your answers. It is better to know your material and use it to demonstrate that you are a logical person. Memorizing answers to questions you are guessing the interviewer will ask is not efficient. What will you do if he/she asks a question for which you have not prepared?

  • Show that you have balance in your life and interests. Appear well rounded and well adjusted. An applicant who looks great on paper who can only talk about school/work is unappealing. There's much more to life and business. Successful applicants are positive, full of life, and have enthusiasm for their family, friends and the world around them. This is reflected through knowledge of current events, sustained interest in hobbies and outside interests and a strong interactive role in their communities.

  • Know your stories and be aware of the logic behind what you have written in your goals essay. Use specific examples to demonstrate that you can effectively employ many strategies to solve problems, but do not overwhelm the interviewer with too many details. Get to the point, quickly and then move on to the interviewer’s next question.

  • Look at the interview as an opportunity to learn more about the school or a specific industry or area.

7.When you are asked if you have any questions, it signals the interview is coming to an end. Do not take too much time in asking questions.

Other reminders:

  • Sit with your back against the back of the chair and cross your legs appropriately. -Men should cross legs at the ankles and rest ankle of one leg on top of the knee of the other leg. It is also okay to cross your legs at the knees.

  • Women should cross legs at the knees and curl the upper foot around the calf of the lower leg.

  • Do not slouch or hang sideways in your chair, you will look bored.

  • Do not sit at the edge of the chair, you will look tense.

  • Lean forward a little when the person is saying something interesting.

  • Let your hands lay loosely on your lap. You should support your most important points with slight hand gestures, but don’t go too far and use your hands for the talking.

  • If you do not understand, ask “Will you please repeat that.” If you still don’t understand, say “I’m sorry, I still don’t understand. Could you please rephrase the question (or statement).”

  • Remember, you want the interviewer to know that you are very comfortable with whatever questions are being asked. Act natural!


  • Tap your fingers.

  • Answer your phone.

  • Shake your foot.

  • Rub your head or neck.

  • Twist or touch your hair in any way.

  • Sit with your arms folded across your chest.

  • Look at your watch or the door.

  • Slouch.

  • Wear heavy perfume, cologne or makeup.

  • Stare blankly when you hear something you do not understand.

  • Speak too quickly

  • Memorize your essays! It will be obvious and will make you look shallow.

  • Ask questions which could be easily answered from the school’s website.

  • Apologize for your answers or language ability.


  • Sit up straight.

  • Keep eye contact

  • Take a few deep breaths before you begin and again when you don’t; know how to answer a question.

  • Speak slowly and pause appropriately.

  • Tie your hair back.

  • Turn off your cell phone.

  • Nod slightly when the person says something you agree with.

  • Choose a seat across from the interviewer.

  • Glance at both interviewers, if there are two, even if only one person is speaking with you. Afterward, you should put your full attention back to the person who is speaking.

  • Even if you are on a phone interview, smile. Also stand when taking a phone interview to increase your level of alertness.

  • Ask two or three strong questions.

Ending the interview

  • Smile at the interviewer, shake hands and thank him/her for his/her time.

  • Leave with an energetic and confident manner.

  • Do not show an emotional reaction to the interview. Do not tap dance away. Do not start crying.

  • Make notes immediately after the interview about what went right and what went wrong. These notes are impetrative to you acing your next interview.

  • Always assume the interview is really over only when you have left the premises not just the meeting room.

What You Could Be Asked

You should be prepared for these potential areas of questioning:

  • Your personality, strengths, weaknesses, family, college life, hobbies, sports and outside interests

  • Your professional and leadership experience

  • Your career goals, political views and breadth of business knowledge

  • Your motivation to obtain an MBA; why now, why this school

Be prepared for a wide range of questions, from casual inquiries about your family to more specific questions about ethical issues. Also be prepared for general questions about current events and items of interest in popular culture. Show that you are well rounded.

Interview Policy

US MBA programs

European MBA programs

Columbia Interview Assessment

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Possible Interview Questions

175 Common MBA Interview Questions