14 Common MBA Interview Mistakes to Avoid


Last Updated on January 30, 2023 by MBA Gateway Team

1. Don’t be disrespectful to the receptionist or students. Every encounter you have with someone affiliated with the MBA program is a potential interview.

2. Don’t try to dominate the interview. This is guaranteed to backfire. Let the interviewer cover all his or her questions.

3. Don’t talk too much or ramble. Be concise and to the point.

4. Don’t be too forward, and don’t ask the interviewer personal questions.

5. Don’t be too informal. Address the interviewer as Ms. or Mr. unless they specifically invite you to refer to them differently.

6. Don’t forget to bring water to drink. Your mouth may get dry as a result of nervousness so be prepared.

7. Don’t interrupt the interviewer. Even if you have an unreasonable interviewer, you’ll get no bonus points for antagonizing him or her. Calmly wait for an opportunity to assert your points and brand message.

8. Don’t use slang or informal communication, even if the interviewer does. (Remember, you are the one being interviewed.)

9. Don’t communicate insecurity and lack of confidence by giving a weak handshake and unsteady eye contact.

10. Don’t come off as unfriendly. Smile when appropriate. No one likes a sourpuss.

11. Don’t be late for the interview. Aim to be there at least fifteen minutes early.

12. Don’t dress inappropriately. Ill-fitting and outlandish attire sends the wrong message about you and your brand.

13. Don’t be negative, and never complain or criticize someone you worked with or your company. Ditto for other MBA programs. Do not criticize another competitor’s program. It sends the wrong message about you.

14. Don’t worry too much about the interview. Focus on being yourself.

The admission interview is not optional; you should always interview if the school offers you the chance.

The interview is a marketing exercise, so go prepared to sell yourself/your brand.

Know the MBA program thoroughly and communicate what you will bring to the program.

Dress appropriately—a well-tailored suit is key even if your job has a casual dress policy.

Be prepared for the interview; invest time to nail down your responses to two to three minutes so that you don’t run out of time. If the interviewer asks follow-up questions, then that is your cue to drill deeper in your response.

The physical resume speaks to your brand, so make sure it is updated and reflects your main leadership impact; don’t forget to use quality paper and eliminate errors.

Wrap up the interview with an intelligent question or two about the MBA program. (Program websites, press releases, and faculty knowledge papers present interesting information about new trends and activities at an MBA program.)

Always follow up with a thank you card or email, which should be sent the day of the interview.

Know your story (brand), and make sure you don’t leave the interview without communicating key points of why you are unique and interesting: your value proposition.

Ensure that you communicate specifically why you fit into the program and what you will bring to enrich the student community. It’s possible to face an ineffective interviewer.

Regardless of who interviews you or whether they ask you productive questions, you have to be prepared to lead the conversation back to major points that reinforce why you are a great fit for their program.

Being clear on the four or so brand themes you wish to cover and having specific short stories to reinforce them will help you leave the interviewer with a strong sense of who you are.

But the interview isn’t enough to help you close the deal.

The MBA Board will be looking for third-party validation of your story (your essays, resume, and interview) before they admit you.


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