The Tuck MBA Interview
How to Pass Your Tuck MBA Interview
Many of my past admitted clients were asked these questions
- Walk me through your resume from your undergraduate degree to current job
- Why MBA? What can you do with MBA? (Goals)
- Why Tuck?
- Why should Tuck admit you over many others who are equally qualified?
- Are you better at leading teams or being a member of teams?
- How did you solve conflict among your teammates?
- Do you know any current students at Tuck?
- What do you do outside work?
- Tell me about your leadership outside work?
- What extracurricular activities at Tuck are you interested in?
- Convince me you want to live in the countryside.
- Anything you would like me to know about you?
- Q and A
Tuck School of Business Admissions Blog
One of my roles is to supervise our 37 student interviewers, and I have been busy getting ready for their training which I will conduct tomorrow.
In preparation, I have been thinking a lot about interviewing dos and don’ts for applicants and thought I would share some of them here.
Similar to your essays, interviews are a great vehicle to share your story. Through the interview, we hope to hear more examples of the types of experiences you have had in both your personal and professional life, and to get a sense of your demonstrated record of achievement, your interpersonal and communication skills, and your focus.
It is important to prepare for the interview in advance. Think about the types of questions you are likely going to get, e.g. what your goals are, why you want to get an MBA, why you want to come to Tuck, leadership roles, your strengths and weaknesses, etc.
Also, think about a few key points about yourself that you want to get across. Then think about specific anecdotes from your past experiences to support each response/point. In describing the anecdote explain the situation, what actions you took and the result.
The caveat here is don’t over-prepare. You don’t want to sound like you are reading from a script. Listen carefully and answer the question being asked. This may sound obvious, but many applicants are so excited to make particular points that they don’t offer them at the appropriate times. I once had an applicant launch into a long discussion of what his goals were and why he needed an MBA when my question to him was “so, are you originally from Chicago?”
Your answers should be specific and include details, but also be concise in your answers. The interview is short, make the most of it. Once you have made your point, stop. The most frustrating interviews I conduct are the ones where the applicant is long-winded and/or strays off topic. Remember your audience – don’t get overly technical in the details and don’t use too much jargon.
For most questions, there is really no right or wrong answer. We are most interested in what you really think. Be yourself. Don’t try to guess what the interviewer wants to hear. If what you say isn’t true for you, it will come off sounding phony or lacking substance. Research the school in advance – asking questions that could be easily answered by looking at the school’s marketing materials/website does not create a good impression.
Our student interviewers are really nice people, and we try to make our admissions interviews as stress-free as possible; however, as a result, some applicants get too casual. They assume since they are being interviewed by someone more their peer it is okay to slouch, slip into slang or reveal information they probably shouldn’t (see Karen’s 9/2 post on too much honesty).
While we certainly want you to feel comfortable and act like yourself, remember, no matter who conducts your interview (student, staff or alum), you should approach it in a completely professional manner. A couple of obvious points that bear repeating: don’t be late, and never ever answer your cell phone or check your Blackberry during an interview. You may laugh, but trust me, people have done it!
Tips for Interview Season
Mishi asked a question on this post about what tips I had for applicants in the upcoming admissions interview season. Three points before I tackle the meat of this question:
A) I appreciate Mishi's question, and would encourage anyone reading this to ask questions. It's probably more useful if I write about what you want to hear: left to my own devices, there's a significant risk of me growing misty eyed about Tuck Rugby ad nauseum.
B) I am not involved in admissions at Tuck in any official capacity, so everything I say here is my personal opinion, and may deviate from the admissions office's view (though, hopefully not dramatically).
C) I have surprisingly little interview experience, given the stage of my career. (I worked all the way through my four years as an undergraduate and for six years afterwards and have had, cumulatively, fewer than a dozen interviews in my life).
With those caveats, here are my top (well, most mentally proximate) five tips for MBA admissions interviews:
1) Dress smartly. Most candidates come to campus dressed in business formal and, in that respect (even if in few others) I believe it's best not to stand out too much from the crowd of other applicants.
2) Read Dale Carnegie. If you don't have time, here's the lowdown: smile lots, don't criticize, be genuinely "hearty in your approbation and lavish in your praise" (but not sycophantic).
3) Know your story. If you are not totally passionate about where you want to go and why the program at the business school you are applying to will help you get there, as well as how your presence at the school will make it a better place for others to be, I don't think you should be looking at a top MBA program. Make sure your story is concise, plausible and, to the greatest extent possible, genuine.
4) Do research beforehand. Know about programs, courses, centers, etc. Not so you can show off, but so that you can have more meaningful discussions and ask more pertinent and informed questions. This links in to point 3). If you don't know why this school will help you get where you want to go, why are you considering spending six figures and investing two years of your life?
5) Make connections. Follow up with fellow visitors, admissions staff, students and faculty you meet. This may help you unlock the door to the school of your dreams but at the very least it expands your network, which is, after all, a big part of the business school process.
Most crucially, and underlying all of these points, is to be yourself. If your favorite book is Harry Potter and someone asks you in an interview what your favorite book is, don't say "Great Expectations" because you think you'll sound smart. Be passionate about what makes you who you are. Tell them "Harry Potter!" with an emphatic smile and explain why you love it. Good luck!
My colleague Adam's excellent post
The Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth MBA interview is about fit, so make sure you can explain in great depth why you want to become a part of Tuck's small intensive community in Hanover. If you interview on-campus expect to be asked about how you liked it. If you have never been to Hanover, contact with alumni and intensive school research are all great ways to prepare. Keep in mind that the objective of this research is to determine what you really like about the school, about how Tuck is right for you, and how you imagine yourself contributing to it. Try to focus on what you need from the school, not merely stating obvious information about it.
Demonstrated enthusiasm to attend Tuck is very helpful. Based on my experience, that enthusiasm in combination with the ability to provide solid answers to routine MBA questions is most critical to succeeding at this interview. Most reported interviews found at accepted.com and clearadmit.com simply consist of standard questions. See my previous post on interview strategy. Expect questions about teams, friendship, and extracurricular activities.
My colleague, Steve Green, has provided a great organized list of common questions:
SMALL TALK / INTRODUCTION
- When did you get in?
- Did you face any problems getting in?
- Did you have a chance to see around Hanover yesterday?
- Where did you end up staying?
- We will talk for around half an hour and I will answer any questions you have towards the end of the interview
- Walk me through your resume.
- VARIATION ON ABOVE
- Tell me more about yourself that I can’t see from your resume: PROBE
- Talk about your current job, your work in Tokyo
- How do you spend your free time? / What do you do apart from work?
- Do you have any/ What is your international experience?
GOALS, REASONS FOR MBA, REASONS FOR TUCK
- What do you see yourself doing immediately after graduation and what are your longer term plans?
- What motivates you to get an MBA at this point in your career? / Why do you feel you need an MBA?
- Why do you want an MBA at Tuck?
- What did you do to know more about Tuck?
- What classes and initiatives at Tuck specifically interest you?
- What’s unique about you that you can add to the Tuck culture and environment?
- What will you be involved with at Tuck? / How will you be involved at Tuck?
- How will you contribute to Tuck?
- When you'll join Tuck, you'll be put into groups. What will be your approach if your team is not able to accomplish a task on time?
- How will you handle differences in your study group, for ex: Language
- What if MBA doesn't work out?
TEAMWORK AND LEADERSHIP
- What do you bring to a team?
- Tell me about your teamwork and how it has influenced you.
- Tell me about a time you had to deal with a difficult teammate.
- How should members of a team deal with teammates who are not contributing?
- Tell me about a time you had to work in a team.
- What are the qualities that make you successful on a team?
- Tell me about a time you experienced conflict on a team, and how you handled it?
- Tell me when you have worked on a diverse team/environment
- What type of leader are you?
- Tell me about a time you disagreed with your boss and how it was resolved.
- Tell me about a situation where you had a difficult boss.
- What is your biggest accomplishment in your personal and/or professional life
- Tell me about a failure.
- Tell me about your analytical skills.
- What are your 3 strengths?
- What are your 3 weaknesses?
- Imagine you are selling yourself to the admissions committee. What 3 things do you want them to know about you?
- What do your colleagues most admire about you?
- How would your colleagues describe you?
- What are three things you’d like the admissions committee to know about you?
- Is there anything else you’d like Tuck to know about you?
- Is there anything you hoped I’d ask, but didn’t?
- Questions for me?
Based on the many interview reports I have read, the above really does capture the questions you can expect to be asked.
There tends to be a significant emphasis on teamwork related questions, so be especially prepared for the variety of those that you may encounter.
You need to know your resume completely as you will likely be asked about content in it. Review it carefully and consider what your interviewer might ask you to explain more thoroughly.
If it is on your resume, it is fair game. Even an admissions officer interviewer will only have your resume, but you should assume they will know the contents of it fairly well.
As Clear Admit states, "Tuck employs a ‘blind’ interview process, using only the resume as a basis for the interview.Interviewers, according to the Tuck FAQ: Interviews on campus are scheduled primarily with admissions associates (second-year students) and occasionally with members of the admissions committee. Off-campus interviews with an alumni interviewer, admissions committee member, or admissions associate are scheduled by invitation only.
Reported interview length: 30 to 45 minutes.
- More reports here: http://www.clearadmit.com/wiki/index.php?title=TuckInterview
- Accepted's Searchable database: http://www.accepted.com/mba/interviews/search.asp?bhcp=1