How to prepare for your MIT Sloan MBA admissions interview

How to pass your

MIT Sloan MBA Interview

  • MIT interviews can be tough b/c they are NOT BLIND.
  • As with HBS, your AdCom interviewer might dig deeper into your essay answer if he wants to clarify anything you wrote.
  • He or she is NOT likely to start the interview by saying, "Tell me about your yourself" because he has already read your entire application.
  • It can be friendly / conversational, but you need to be prepared to answer new questions with new examples.
  • I also encourage you to research and practice behavioral interview techniques.
  • Final note: I hestitate to write this because candiates might misinterpret it as an excuse not to prepare. But here goes:
    • Since 2008, some clients have told me that they were not asked ANY behavioral interview questions by MIT AdCom members.
    • Perhaps it is a matter of interpretation.
    • Is "Tell me about a recent accomplishment" a behavioral question? Yes, in the sense that is asking you to tell a story that demonstrates your drive, results, and impact.
    • Not every behavioral question starts with "Tell me about a time when you... "
    • Some behavioral questions sound more conversational.
    • In that sense, a question like "What do you like to do in your free time?" can be considered behavioral.
    • I do not know when and why MIT AdCom interviewers decide to ask candidates to answer multiple behavioral questions.
    • Nor do I know why they sometimes ask one or two behavioral questions, or avoid asking them altogether.
    • Bottom line: My clients over-prepare.
    • Expect the worst (five to seven behaioral questions) and hope for the best (one or two).

Congratulations!

You have been invited to interview with MIT.

Now what?

  • I provide school-specific training for MIT interviews
  • I am receiving many inquiries from applicants who want help preparing for an MIT interview
    • First, l need to take care of my comprehsensive clients
    • If time allows, I would be happy to prepare a few interview-only clients, as well
  • Please follow the six sign-up steps below if you would like to secure my time

STEP ONE

CONTACT ME

AT LEAST 10 DAYS

BEFORE YOUR INTERVIEW

  • Please complete my intake form
  • Let me know when you plan to interview, and when you want to practice with me
  • I will confirm if I have the capacity to help you

STEP TWO

DECIDE HOW

MANY SESSIONS

YOU WANT

  • One MIT mock interview training session lasts 60 minutes
  • I ask customized questions for the first 30 minutes
  • We spend the last 30 minutes reviewing your answers
  • I can help you brainstorm more effective ways to answer the questions I asked
  • We can also discuss other ways that MIT adcom members might ask you to discuss the same information (different questions that solicit the same core contents that I wanted you to discuss during our 30 minute mock interview)
  • Finally, if time permits, we can discuss other types of questions that might be of concern to you

STEP THREE

ARRANGE PAYMENT

My fees are listed here

HOW TO PAY

  • Clients in Japan pay via bank transfer or cash
  • Clients outside Japan pay via PayPal
  • Japan-based clients that want to pay via PayPal are subject to a 5% handling fee to cover PayPal charges

STEP FOUR

SCHEDULE OUR FIRST SESSION

TO OCCUR AT LEAST 5 DAYS

BEFORE YOUR MIT INTERVIEW

  • I will give you access to my Google Calendar once payment clears
    • All times are JST (Tokyo time)
    • If you do not find a convenient time, please email me several options
    • I will do my best to accommodate
  • Finally, please follow my cancellation policy
    • If necessary, requests to reschedule appointments should be made at least 24 hours in advance of the originally scheduled appointment time
    • Rescheduling requests made less than 24 hours prior to an appointment will be granted at Vince’s discretion

STEP FIVE

SEND ME

YOUR MIT APPLICATION

MIT adcom members read your entire application before interviewing you.

I want to do the same.

Once our session is scheduled, please attach and send me your

  • resume
  • application data form short answers
  • transcript
  • essays

Also, if you have access to your recommendation letters, please send those, as well

After reading your application, I will prepare a custom list of questions to fit your case.

After your interview, I will destroy all hard and soft copies to maintain client confidentiality

STEP SIX

PRACTICE BEFORE and

AFTER EACH SESSION

  • Interviewing is a learned skill
  • You will improve with practice
  • Please practice at least three hours before and after each of our mock interview sessions
  • I encourage you to use my "mirror method" to practice at home

PLEASE NOTE

  • I will keep the time of our mock trainings to 60 mins exactly (30 mins of questions and 30 mins of feedback / tips / next steps)
  • I will review your MIT application free of charge
  • I will also not charge to create a custom question list based on your situation
  • If you are not my comprehensive client, I will not be able to engage in lengthy email exchanges
  • In short, you are only paying for my "face time" (whether in person or via Skype)
  • I am adding the prep time (up to 30 mins per session), free of charge
  • Therefore, I feel confident that my service offers good value

CANCELLATIONS

  • If necessary, requests to reschedule appointments should be made at least 24 hours in advance of the originally scheduled appointment time
  • Rescheduling requests made less than 24 hours prior to an appointment will be granted at Vince's discretion

AFTER YOUR INTERVIEW

PLEASE HELP ME

IMPROVE MY SERVICE

  • Please note that I would appreciate hearing from you after the interview
  • I will send you a short one page feedback request form that asks if you experienced any surprise questions and/or challenging follow up questions that I could done a better job prepare your to handle with confidence
  • I will keep your replies confidential and use them to improve my service (internally, not externally on my website)
  • Finally, I expect you will tell me your admissions result after MIT informs you
  • By knowing your result, I will know if my service was effective or not
  • I aim to provide the best MIT interview training in the world

MIT's Interview Instructions

The MIT Sloan MBA Admissions Committee conducts Behavioral Event-Based Interviews.

The concept behind Behavioral Event Interviews (BEI) is past behavior is a reliable indicator of future response in a similar situation.

BEI is different from the traditional screening interviews:

  • Instead of asking how you would behave in a particular situation, the interviewer will ask you how you did behave.
  • Expect your interviewer to question and probe your answers.
  • The interviewer will ask you to provide details and will not allow you to theorize or generalize about several events.
  • The interview will be a structured process that will concentrate on areas that are important to the interviewer, rather than allowing you to concentrate on areas that you may feel are important.
  • You may not get a chance to deliver any prepared stories.
  • Most interviewers will be taking copious notes throughout the interview.

What the Admissions Committee is looking for

The interviewer will be looking for concrete and specific examples revealing one or several of the following traits during the interview:

  • Influencing others: the ability to influence a person, group or organization.
  • Relationship building: the ability to build and maintain professional relationships.
  • Drive: the ability to set an objective and achieve it.

Preparing for BEI

  • Recall a recent situation that showed favorable behaviors or actions, especially involving work experience, leadership, professional relationships, teamwork, planning, etc.
  • Prepare short descriptions of each situation; be ready to give details when asked.
  • Be sure the story has a beginning, middle and an end.
  • Be honest; don’t embellish or omit any part of the story.
  • Be specific. Don’t generalize about several events; give a detailed accounting of one event. The interviewer will not give you the benefit of the doubt if there is something missing from your story.

(found at http://mitsloan.mit.edu/mba/admissions/MITSloan_interview_guide.pdf; accessed 3/2011)

Behavioral Event-Based Interviews (BEI)

What is BEI?

In the 1980’s, industrial psychologist Dr. Tom Janz introduced a method of interviewing called the “Behavioral Interview.” Research shows that this interviewing style is extremely effective, and MBA adcoms have started using it in interviews as well as essay questions, first at MIT and now, to a lesser extent, Wharton, Stanford, and other programs (depending on the interviewer).

Why do interviewers use BEI?

The premise is that the best predictor of future behavior is your past behavior. In a behavioral interview you will have to demonstrate your knowledge, skills, and abilities, collectively known as competencies, by giving specific examples from your past experiences. Instead of asking how you would behave in a particular situation, the interviewer will ask you to describe how you did behave. Expect the interviewer to question and probe you for more details about what you thought, felt, said and did. Also, your interviewer will not allow you to theorize or generalize about several events.

How can you prepare for a Behavioral Event-Based Interview?

During a behavioral interview, always listen carefully to the question, ask for clarification if necessary, and make sure you answer the question completely. Your answer should contain these four steps (Situation, Task, Action, Result or "STAR") for optimum success. http://web.mit.edu/career/www/guide/star.html

  1. Situation: give an example of a situation you were involved in that resulted in a positive outcome
  2. Task: describe the tasks involved in that situation
  3. Action: talk about the various actions involved in the situation’s task
  4. Results: what results directly followed because of your actions

Whenever you can, quantify your results. Numbers illustrate your level of authority and responsibility. For example: "I was a shift supervisor." could be "As Shift Supervisor, I trained and evaluated 4 employees."

Example of a STAR Answer

  1. Situation: During my internship last summer, I was responsible for managing various events.
  2. Task: I noticed that attendance at these events had dropped by 30% over the past 3 years and wanted to do something to improve these numbers.
  3. Action: I designed a new promotional packet to go out to the local community businesses. I also included a rating sheet to collect feedback on our events and organized internal round table discussions to raise awareness of the issue with our employees.
  4. Result: We utilized some of the wonderful ideas we received from the community, made our internal systems more efficient and visible and raised attendance by 18% the first year.


Behavioral Interview Example

Question: “Describe a situation where you have had to deal with a difficult person.”

Answer: “I was transferred to a new project at my previous company to replace a beloved member of the team. My new team leader exhibited hostility towards me and I found myself left out of vital communications and meetings. After a few weeks, I was able to talk her into a one on one meeting. When laid out all of the key objectives for the team, the previous employees role in meeting those objectives, and then discussed goals that I could set to make sure I was able to serve as a quality replacement. In our discussion, we also identified a few underlying issues with management that she had been carrying around with her. In uncovering all of these sentiments, she was able to clearly define her situation and achieve an understanding with her supervisors. In the end, the entire team morale improved, I was able to exceed my goals and the company itself became more profitable from our teams increased performance.”

Follow-up questions will test for consistency and determine if you exhibited the desired behavior in that situation:

  • "Can you give me an example?"
  • "What did you do?"
  • "What did you say?"
  • "What were you thinking?"
  • "How did you feel?
  • "What was your role?"
  • "What was the result?"

Watch a behavioral interview here

Information compiled from various public sources including http://web.mit.edu/career/www/guide/star.html


More links here: http://delicious.com/admissions/interview_behavioral

MIT INTERVIEW QUESTIONS

  • My colleague Steve Green provided this organized list of sample questions, collected from various public sources. Thank you, Steve!

RESUME

  • Do you have any recent accomplishments you want to share?
  • Are there any changes to your resume since you submitted it?
  • Walk me through your resume. (FOLLOW UP)
  • What do you do outside work?
  • How do you have time for all the things that you do (referencing resume)
  • Tell me about your job, have your responsibilities changed since your promotion.
  • Tell me about yourself, what have you been doing in the last two years.
  • What exactly do you do? What have you been doing in your position recently?
  • Tell me about something at work you have been proud of in the last year.
  • What's a personal goal that you've set for yourself recently?
  • Where do see your business heading?

GOALS

  • Why MBA?
  • Why did you decide to apply to Sloan? Tell me your thought process.


TEAMWORK AND RELATIONSHIPS

  • Tell me about when you had a difficult time with your job.
  • How did you manage to resolve a conflict situation and move the team forward?
  • Tell me about a difficult conversation you had to have with someone.
  • Tell me about a time when you had to present something to someone who you did not like.
  • Tell me about a time you had a challenging interaction with someone.
  • Tell me a time when you influenced someone (Then a follow up question to my answer was: Can you tell me what your plan was?)
  • Tell me about a time when you butted heads with a co-worker/client/employee.
  • Tell me about something that you've encountered, at work or outside of work, that made you feel uncomfortable.
  • Tell me about a time when you were part of a team that had poor dynamics/didn't get along well.
  • Tell me about a time when you had to deal with someone who wasn't pulling his/her weight.

LEADERSHIP

  • Tell me about a time when you took the lead on something.
  • Tell me about a time you led a team to a solution.
  • Tell me about a time when you had to persuade/convince others.
  • Tell me about a time you convinced others to follow your plan.
  • Tell me about a time when you mentored someone.
  • Tell me about a time when someone needed your help.


ACCOMPLISHMENTS

  • Tell me about a time when you set a goal and moved towards achieving it.
  • Tell me a time when you thought outside of the box.
  • Tell me when you did something innovative.
  • Tell me of a time when you took the risk and the outcome. What did you learn from it?
  • Tell me about something you've done that you're proud of.


ELF-AWARENESS

  • How would a friend describe you? A client?
  • Tell me about a time when you had to step out from your comfort zone.
  • Tell me about a time you had to ask for help
  • Tell me about a time you failed.
  • Tell me about a time your idea was rejected.
  • Tell me about a time when your expectations were not met.
  • Tell me about a time when you had to decide among multiple options.


CLOSING QUESTIONS

  • What do you wish I had asked you?
  • I'm meeting a lot of people today, what is going to make me remember you?
  • Any questions for me?

REPORTS

2011 R2

  1. Walk me through your resume
  2. Experience to integrate people
  3. One more experience to integrate people
  4. Why MBA?
  5. Why Sloan?
  6. Something to add?


2009 R1, interviewed w/ adcoms in Tokyo

1. Interviewer: Rod Garcia, Director of MBA Admissions

2. Length of Interview: about 45 min.

3. Questions asked:

He used to ask one big question and made several questions to dig down my answers.

1) What do you do know?

- What is your task in that business?

- How could you establish such a big and exciting business?

- Please tell me about your past professional experience.

2) Tell me about the time when you have to persuade people or organization to influence others.

- Please give me example of the dialog you had with your peers.

- Why and how do you think you were effecting in persuading them?

3) Please tell me about the time when you had to put yourself into uncomfortable environment

- Why were you in that situation?

- What did you do and learn through the task?

- How did your attitude change since this experience?

4) What do you want to do after MBA?

5) Do you have any questions? (2 times)

6) Do you have anything else you want to mention?

Overall impression: Rod was really friendly but professional. He asked me a lot of questions about my past experience.


2007-2008

The 2nd round interview was in Tokyo with adcom (#2 guy below Rod Garcia). It lasted 30 mins.

Questions:

1. What kind of quality or talent I bring to my workshop?

2. What are my personal (not job related) goals in the future?

3. What kind of preparation do I do for my personal goals?

Then related to my answer on 3rd question, he continued to ask:

4. How do I rank MIT for my MBA selection?

5. Why MIT?

6. Is there anything I would like to tell him?

7. Question for him

The interviewer was taking notes of my comments, but the overall atmosphere was mild with some smiles from him.

More tips and reports herehttp://delicious.com/admissions/MIT+interview_reports


HOW TO FRAME YOUR ANSWERS

I have compiled several frameworks that my clients use to structure their essay and interview answers. Use them, but do not abuse them.

Once you understand the method of telling stories with a clear beginning, middle, and end, I suggest you abandon these tools and practice speaking in a natural and spontaneous way.

Remember, your interview is a conversation. Do you enjoy meeting new people? Show your interpersonal skills at the interview - you can impress your interviewer and boost your chances of admission.


STAR

  1. Situation: give an example of a situation you were involved in that resulted in a positive outcome
  2. Task: describe the tasks involved in that situation / what was your ultimate goal? try to define your task as narrowly as possible
  3. Action: talk about the various actions involved in the situation’s task. Show your progress in implementing your idea / trying to reach your task. This should include:
    • Problems - what obstacles did you encounter that threatened your project / kept you from achieving your task? How did colleagues and/or supervisors resist your efforts?
    • Solutions - specific actions and decisions you took to overcome the obstacles. How did you overcome the resistance of others?
  4. Results: what results directly followed because of your actions? show the impact of your success as broadly as possible

PREPARE TWO MORE ASPECTS OF YOUR STORY IN CASE YOUR INTERVIEWER ASKS FOR MORE DETAILS AND FOLLOW UP

  1. Takeaways/Learnings: what did you learn from this experience?
  2. Application: when have you applied your lessons in another situation (optional in many cases but good for brainstorming to test if your "learning" was real).

Example of a STAR Answer

  • Situation: During my internship last summer, I was responsible for managing various events.
  • Task: I noticed that attendance at these events had dropped by 30% over the past 3 years and wanted to do something to improve these numbers.
  • Action: I designed a new promotional packet to go out to the local community businesses. I also included a rating sheet to collect feedback on our events and organized internal round table discussions to raise awareness of the issue with our employees.
  • Result: We utilized some of the wonderful ideas we received from the community, made our internal systems more efficient and visible and raised attendance by 18% the first year.

(found at http://web.mit.edu/career/www/guide/star.html; accessed 2011/10)

Variation 1: R-STAR

I suggest using a modified PAR template: R-STAR. Put the result at the beginning.

  • Results (headline)
  • Situation
  • Task
  • Action
  • Results (paraphrase)

Variation 2: SOAR

  • Situation
  • Obstacle
  • Action
  • Result

Provide a structured framework to keep your answer clear and concise, while conveying how you effectively overcame the challenge.

Variation 3: SOFT

  • Situation
  • Obstacle
  • Failure
  • Takeaway (what you learned)

Information is subject to change. Please verify all data with the schools.