How to pass your Berkeley Haas Business School MBA admissions interview

Congratulations! 

You have been invited

to interview with Berkeley Haas MBA. 

 

Now what? 


 

How to ace your Berkeley Haas MBA interview 

GENERAL TIPS

First, at your Berkeley Haas interview, be prepared to demonstrate deep understanding of Haas Defining Principles (HDP)

1. Question the Status Quo
2. Confidence Without Attitude
3. Students Always
4. Beyond Yourself

Also be prepared to share examples of how you have demonstrated HDP in professional and personal life.

Second, be prepared to connect your long-term goal to Haas professors, programs, people. In other words, customise your "Why Haas?" answer to fit your career plans. Show that you know Haas programs deeply and can explain why and HOW Haas best prepares you to change the world.

Third, be ready to prove, with logic and passion, why you would choose Berkeley over other options. Haas usually loses to Stanford GSB and alumni interviewers are sensitive to applicants applying to other, higher ranked schools. Have some criteria by which Berkeley beats other schools. For instance, a former consultant client who wanted to pursue a career in the healthcare industry mentioned that he wanted to pursue a Health Management Certificate at the Haas School of Business. Stanford, by contrast, does not offer such a certificate.

Fourth and finally, review your written application. Think through the kinds of questions you are likely to be asked, and think about your responses. Practice interviews can be very helpful, but be sure not to over-rehearse your answers. Your responses should always sound natural and conversational, not scripted and memorized.

A former client told me that sometimes alumni interviewers receive "tailor-made instructions / check-points" from the admission office about what kinds of points he should ask me and check. Therefore, we encourage you to review your application and ask yourself "What issues might the admissions office ask my interviewer to confirm at the interview?"

Might they be concerned, for example, about my:

communication skills (can I explain complex issues in simple words?)
teamwork skills (can I handle disappointments? can I unite diverse peers)
career goals (are they realistic? do I have a "plan B"?)


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The Berkeley Interview

How to Ace the Admissions Interview

By former Haas Full-time MBA Program Admissions Co-Directors, Jett Pihakis and Peter Johnson

Here are some helpful tips to keep in mind so that you will make a favorable impression on your interviewers. While some of our suggestions are easier to implement than others, all of these skills can be learned with practice.

Think through the kinds of questions you are likely to be asked, and think about your responses. Practice interviews can be very helpful, but be sure not to over-rehearse your answers. Your responses should always sound natural and conversational, not canned or scripted.

Dress to impress. Wear business attire to your B-school interview. First impressions do matter.

Relax and be yourself. While some nervous energy is to be expected, understand that the interviewer is on your side and wants you to do a good job. Too much nervous energy can be detrimental to your interview performance. If necessary, do some breathing exercises to calm yourself prior to your interview.

Answer the question being asked. Do not attempt to control the interview by forcing your agenda and making points you feel must be made. Follow the interviewer’s lead.

Think about your response before you begin speaking aloud. It is perfectly acceptable for you to sit in silence for a few moments while you gather your thoughts. In fact, your responses will be much crisper and clearer if you take the time to do so.

Provide answers that are concise, but not too concise. Avoid rambling, but be sure that your answer offers the interviewer enough information to be helpful. Watch your interviewer’s facial expressions and body language to determine if you are on track.

Maintain appropriate eye contact with the interviewer. While it is certainly acceptable to look away occasionally while thinking, you should attempt to keep consistent eye contact while either of you is speaking.

Be conscious of your posture. You want to appear comfortable in your chair, but not too comfortable. Avoid being too casual (e.g., slouching, sitting with your legs far apart, etc).

Be conscious of your tendency to fidget. Don't click your pen, twirl your hair, rub your leg, or shift in your seat.

Minimize your use of filler words such as "you know," "like," "um," and "uh."

Do plenty of school research before your interview and come prepared to ask intelligent questions. It is completely appropriate for you to consult your notes at the end of the interview when you are asking questions of your interviewer. However, you should not refer to notes while the interviewer is questioning you.

Never ask your interviewer for feedback at the end of your interview. "How did I do?" is not an appropriate question.

Armed with these tips (which are also discussed in our podcast at http://www.haas.berkeley.edu/haas/podcast/audio/haas_mba_interview_tips1.mp3), you should now be better prepared to face even the most challenging of interviews. We wish you the very best of luck with your applications!

(found at http://haas.berkeley.edu/mba/enews/jan07/story1.html; accessed 2007/01)



PRACTICE QUESTION LISTS

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QL 1

Why do you like strategy? Do you like strategy or marketing? Why are you analytical?
What does a marketing analytics manager do at a company like yours?
What is your company's relative strengths and weaknesses compared to your peers?
What would you change about your company?
What is the brand of your university?
What's surprised you most about moving to Paris?
How would you explain econometric modeling to a young child or old person?
Have you ever taught anyone else how to do econometric modeling?
What do you feel is your weakness as an applicant?
What are your three strengths? +
What are your three weaknesses? (-)
How do you define “leadership?” / Give me an example
Why do some people feel that you are risk averse?
Please tell me about a time when time you took a risk
Why an MBA?  /  Why now? / Career goals?
Why do you care so much about social entrepreneurship?
What could prevent you from achieving your short-term goals?
What is your career backup plan / plan B?
Why do some people feel that you are sometimes too detail oriented?
Why do some people feel that you sometimes have trouble executing? Do you agree?
Please tell me about a time when you made an impact at the office.
Please tell me about a time when a team member was not pulling his/her own weight.
Please tell me about a time when you were on a team that failed.
What makes Haas’s culture different from others?
What will you contribute to Haas? / What do you bring to the Haas community?
Are there any clubs/activities that do not exist that you would like to start?
What book are you currently reading?
Putting aside your professional life, tell me about your personal life and the activities that define you ("other interests" section of the resume)?
Tell me something about you that is not on your resume.
Please ask me some questions.



///

QL 2

Tell me about yourself.
What do you feel is your weakness as an applicant?
How did you end up in your current job?
How did (a previous role) help you in your current role?
What frustrates you most at your current role?
Tell me what you like to do in your free time?
Why Haas?
What one thing draws you to Haas?
What other schools are you applying to?
If admitted to other schools, what will be your criteria for choosing?
Why now?
What are specific Haas programs that will help you?
Where do you want to do your summer internship? How will you market yourself to that firm? What is your backup plan if you do not get your first choice?
Which clubs do you want to participate in?
What do you bring to the Haas community?
What makes Haas’s culture different from others?
Which country would you choose for “Doing Business In”? Why?
How will your post-MBA role be different from your current role?
What would your supervisor say is one of your strengths? One of your weaknesses?
What is the best constructive criticism your boss has ever given you?
What could prevent you from achieving your short-term goals?
What has been your greatest achievement in your current job?
What is something (work or non-work) that you are proud of?
Tell me about a challenging time or a time you failed. What did you learn?
Tell me about a conflict you faced and how you overcame it.
What is your leadership style?
Tell me about a time you led a team through a difficult situation?
What is your role on a team?
Is there anything else you’d like me to know?
Any questions for me?
 

QL 3

1.      Tell me about your current role.
2.      Tell me something about yourself that is not on your resume.
3.      If another idea came along that spurred your interest and you felt right at the moment, would you abandon your previous plans to jump on the new idea?
4.      Tell me about a challenge you faced at work.
5.      What about an interpersonal challenge?
6.      What would your current supervisor say is your greatest strength, and what would s/he say you need to improve?
7.      Describe 2 weaknesses you’d like to address through an MBA.
8.      Tell me about a difficult leadership decision you made and how you handled it.
9.      If you were on a project team and had to be a follower / not a leader, how would you react to that?
10.   Tell me about a time you were able to do something creative/not by the book.
11.   Tell me about a time you experienced conflict on a team. What did you do about it?
12.   Define “success.”
13.   What are your short and long term goals
14.   Why do you want to go to business school?
15.   Why Haas?
16.   What other programs are you interested in?
17.   If you were admitted, what's unique about you that you could contribute to Haas? What about outside the classroom?
18.   What do you see as the future trend of your industry?
19.   Do you have questions for me?

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QL 4


1.     Walk me through your resume?
2.     Why MBA?
3.     Career goals?
4.     Why now?
5.     What will you contribute to Haas?
6.     Are there any clubs/activities that do not exist that you would like to start?
7.     A challenging leadership/teamwork experience.
8.     A time you led a group.
9.     A time you failed/were on a team that failed.
10.   A time you displayed good teamwork.
11.   A time you faced an interpersonal challenge. How did you deal with it?
12.   A time you received constructive feedback and how you responded.
13.   Something you wish you could have done differently.
14.   How do you define “leadership?” Give an example.
15.   How would your boss, co-workers, subordinates describe you? Friends? (give both strengths and weaknesses)
16.   What book are you currently reading?
17.   Tell me about your process for self-reflection. How do you define/measure success and then evaluate whether you've been successful in a particular situation?
18.   What do people like about you?
19.   Something else you want me to know.
20.   Ask me some questions.



Berkeley Haas MBA Interview Questions by Category 

Resume:

Walk me briefly through your resume. (Probe and generate discussion from responses.)
Tell me about your current role.
Tell me something about yourself that is not on your resume.


Strengths & Weaknesses:

If another idea came along that spurred your interest and you felt right at the moment, would you abandon your previous plans to jump on the new idea?*
Tell me about a challenge you faced at work.
What about an interpersonal challenge?
What would your current supervisor say is your greatest strength, and what would s/he say you need to improve?
Describe 2 weaknesses you’d like to address through an MBA.
What qualities make you unique?


Leadership & Teamwork:

Tell me about a difficult leadership decision you made and how you handled it.*
If you were on a project team and had to be a follower / not a leader, how would you react to that?*
Tell me about a time you were able to do something creative/not by the book.
Tell me about your experiencing managing people - are you managing direct reports now? What about cross functional teams like operations, finance, etc.?
Tell me about a time when you wanted to go in a different direction than your supervisor.
Tell me about a time when you had an idea and you were swimming against the tide - what did you do to get your idea/plan across?
If you were on a group project team how would the team describe you?
Tell me about a time you experienced conflict on a team. What did you do about it?
 

Goals:

Make an “elevator pitch” for your candidacy.*
What will success look like? Define “success.”
What are your short and long term goals
Why do you want to go to business school?
Why Haas?

·       What other programs are you interested in at Haas?

·       If you were admitted, what's unique about you that you could contribute to Haas? What about outside the classroom?

·       What will you do if after 4-5 years of starting your business / your career goals, you fail?

 

Other:

What do you see as the future trend of your industry?
Do you have questions for me?



 

for reference, here are some archived 

UCB / Berkeley / Haas Interview Reports


December round applicant interviewed by adcoms in Tokyo on 3/2/2009 #1

I had an interview with a Haas admission officer on Monday. The interview was 50-minutes long and a blind one. I felt that the interview was kind of "Behavioral Event Interviews"; the interviewer often dug into details and asked me what, how, why so often. Therefore, you will have questions special to you. Here are the questions I had. Additional BEI-type questions followed some of the questions below.

Walk me through resume
Why did you move to other functions within the company?
Why Haas.
STG and LTG.
If you could change one thing relating to your professional topic, then what would it be? (This is like Short Answer 1 in Haas's essay.)
Difficult teamwork experience
Teamwork failure
Your contributions to Haas
Lesson from your international work experience. How did you resolve a difficult situation in an international project?
What are you going to do if you have extra 4hrs a day?
Anything that you want the adcom to know?
Questions.

 




December round applicant interviewed by adcoms in Tokyo on 3/2/2009 #2

I have just finished my Haas interview with a member of admission. My interview was truly conversational and most of the questions were ordinary ones. Also, at the beginning he mentioned that Haas invites approximately 30% of the applicants to interview....For your reference, followings are the questions that I was asked at the interview. I hope it helps you and your clients.

Walk me through your resume
Short and long term goal
Why MBA, Why Haas, Why now?
Team work experience
What do people around you mention about you
Why do you think people will say about you in the way you said
What is the biggest risk that you take currently
What do you want me to ask you
Any questions?
 


 

2008

Walk me through your resume.
Tell me more about your current project.
What surprised you when you researched Haas School.
What is your long term goal?
Any difficulty in team work?
Any constructive feed back?
Any questions?

 


 

- Updated by Vince on 11 Mar 2016

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