You've been invited to interview. 

Now what?

First of all, do not delay your response. Some schools ask the interviewer to indicate how quickly you responded to the invitation. A delay could signal a lack of interest on your part.

Second, start developing your story portfolio. What do you want to show them? You can begin by considering their criteria. What are they looking for? How will your interviewer evaluate you?

Most interviewers are looking to confirm the following seven points

1. English Ability

2. Interpersonal Skills

3. Impact on Student Life

4. Career Progression

5. Career Focus

6. Intellectual Ability

7. Leadership Potential


Therefore, when preparing for interviews, you absolutely need to develop concise and interesting stories about your


Beyond that, the customized three areas for each school are


A few things to remember. First, interviews are mostly about fit. They are assessing


Second, most school interviews are blind. That means your interviewer will only have your resume.

Therefore, most blind interviews begin with, "Tell me about yourself", or "Walk me through your resume". 


Here are some tips for how to answer both styles of self-introduction.

"Walk me through your resume." (WMTYR)

Some interviewers start the conversation by saying, "Walk me through your resume." Others say, "Please summarize your professional life since graduating from university."

The best strategy for this type of self-introduction question is to show each period of your career as a choice. For example, "I joined my company because I wanted to work in an international setting and believed that the ABC industry would provide me with the best chances to use my XYZ skills. I joined the Finance Department in order to learn accounting and profit-based decision-making. Later, I moved to (another department) in order to learn (another set of skills)...."

Try creating an (invisible) "why" column on your resume. Show your motivation for each choice.

What skill/knowledge did you hope to gain by choosing your university major?

What interested you in your industry?

Why did you choose your particular company?

What skill did you hope to acquire in your first / second / current position?

You might also want to create a macro analysis / summary of your career to date. For example, " I have worked in two different functions. First, I learned sales skills since I knew they would be useful in any business situation. After earning the top sales award in 2007, I was promoted to my current position in corporate planning."

VINCE'S NOTE: Clients have asked me if you should give this answer in chronological order. Absolutely! In other words, if your resume lists professional experience above educational experience (as I suggest) you are actually walking your interviewer UP your resume from college graduation up to your current position.


"Tell me about yourself" (TMAY)

Another common way for an interviewer to start the conversation (after small-talk / ice-breakers) is to say, "Tell me about yourself". In this case, your interview wants you to present a quick summary of your professional and personal achievements and interests.


Professionally, I…

Personally, I…(list 2 to 3 interests)

VINCE'S NOTE: Some clients ask if you should only mention current / ongoing interest. Not necessarily. I personally would talk about music even though I am not currently in a band. I enjoy strumming my guitar to make my son laugh. And I certainly take every opportunity to listen to live and recorded music. Most of all, some of my best lifelong friends are those I have made through music. So I would mention it as my first personal interest.



Interviewers often inquire about your future career plans by asking one or more of the following questions:


They also ask, "Why now?"

You need to directly answer this question, but your answer can be short (two sentences). Think about:

Vince's "Why Now" Template for interviews

In additional to asking future focused questions, your interviewer often wants to learn more about your leadership and teamwork experience. Questions about the past are often referred to as "behavioral" because they relate to what you thought, felt, said, and did in a particular situation. Some schools like MIT have emphasized behavioral questions for years in both their essays and interviews. Other schools like Wharton have recently (2010-2011) changed their interview methods to include mostly (or in some cases exclusively) behavioral questions.

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 adcoms (and some alumni) 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.

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


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:

This sounds harder than it needs to be. Please take a deep breath. Now, let it out and realize that you have many experiences you can share. You just need to organize them. Then, you need to practice using a simple template like PAR.




PAR stands for Problem-Action-Results; in other words, first you state the problem that existed in your workplace, then you describe what you did about it, and finally you point out the beneficial results.

Here’s an example: “Transformed a disorganized, inefficient warehouse into a smooth-running operation by totally redesigning the layout; this saved the company thousands of dollars in recovered stock.”

Another example: “Improved an engineering company’s obsolete filing system by developing a simple but sophisticated functional-coding system. This saved time and money by recovering valuable, previously lost, project records.”

Common Behavioral Interview Question Types, by category









Ethics / Integrity


Information pulled from various public sources including

Strengths and weaknesses

Common Questions Interviews Ask to Elicit Your Strengths and Weaknesses

When brainstorming weakness, consider your:

Examples from Stanford LoR Rubric:

Best Tips / Hints / Tools for brainstorming your strengths and weaknesses


Interviewers often ask how you plan to contribute to their MBA program. Most of you will claim you have "passion" for this particular MBA program. Talk is cheap. The only way to demonstrate true passion is to do your homework. Actions speak louder than words. Have you contacted alumni and current students? It is not too late!





To quote Lou Gerstner, “Culture isn’t just one aspect of the game - it is the game”. Read more about "fit" here

(found at; accessed 11/2010)

The question is - why are you competitive?

Vince suggests you fill out this first matrix (Version A) to help clarify how your contributions add value to you and others.