Top MIT Sloan MBA Interview Tips from Actual Interviewees

by on October 29th, 2017

Just as we rounded up interview advice for Harvard Business School hopefuls, we’re back now to assist candidates for MIT Sloan’s Class of 2020. Over the years, hundreds of MBA applicants have shared their interview experiences. For today’s post, we’ve culled through this to pull out top tips from those who experienced MIT Sloan’s Behavioral Event-based Interviews (BEI) first hand.

For anyone unfamiliar with the BEI, it’s a style of interview that centers on a description of one or more specific situations or events as related by the applicant. The interviewer will ask a number of probing questions about the candidate’s decisions and actions in the course of the event described. Adcom members conduct the interviews and will be highly familiar with your application—even having it handy on a tablet during your interview. Want to learn more? Check out Clear Admit’s Interview Guide for MIT Sloan.

Some Round 1 interview invitations have already rolled out from MIT Sloan, but more are also still on the way, through November 2, 2017. Whether you have an invitation in hand or are waiting for the good news, see below for what past candidates learned from their Sloan interview experiences. You can thank us—and them—by paying it forward and submitting reports of your own after you interview.

Marquee Takeaways

A Round 2 candidate established the overall structure of the interview:

“Interviewer had a set of questions that focused on past accomplishments and challenges; there was none of the standard ‘walk me through your résumé’ type prompt.”

Another applicant offered the following advice for how to prepare:

“The key for this interview is to have good, meaningful anecdotes. Not something you threw together, but real stories with depth that you know well enough to allow you to provide serious background.”

A thoughtful Round 1 interviewee offered these observations:

“The ‘why MIT’ question is clearly extremely important to them, so is showing you’ve done your homework. The more I have thought about the interview since, the more I think that she was very familiar with my application and every question she asked was prepared beforehand and meant to draw out a specific experience that I had written about in my application, even including the more conversational portions of the interview. It was very different from interviewing with a 2nd-year student, and [the interviewer] is clearly very experienced conducting these types of interviews in a way that lets you show your best attributes.”

Go with the Flow

Be prepared to be interrupted, advised a Round 2 candidate from last year:

“While I was telling stories, I would often get stopped and asked a very probing question about how I reacted/felt about a certain thing.”

An accepted Round 1 applicant also noted:

“The interview was not blind—the interviewer will have a good idea of who you are and will begin to probe at areas where they want more info or detail. Just be yourself and be ready to bring new information to the table—their admissions process is heavily dependent on data and proof points of past achievements. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to introduce new proof points in the interview.”

We Are All Made of STARs

The behavioral nature of the MIT / Sloan interviews can be challenging, but a couple of applicants shared their approach:

“I used the STAR format (situation, task, action, response) for all my questions and used a template rather than a script.”

“The key is to prepare stories that cover most subjects and to deliver your answers in a structured way (the STAR method is really helpful).”

Hindsight Is 20/20

This candidate, who ultimately met with success after a Skype interview in Round 1, acknowledged that even more practice might have helped:

“Unlike my other interview experiences, the questions did not focus on my aspirations and goals. Instead, this interview focused on how I felt, what I thought, and how I reacted to several situations—where I managed someone, when I felt uncomfortable cross-culturally, and a time I instituted organizational change. If I were to do it over again, I would practice discussing my experiences and the colorful descriptions of them.”

Meanwhile, a rejected Round 1 candidate had this to share about the interview experience:

“I was ultimately dinged. I think this had to do with lack of fit with the school, which probably came out during the interview, as I (unwisely) didn’t prepare much to adjust my responses/story to fit with MIT’s culture.”

A Small Note on Logistics

While it’s a best practice to arrive 15 minutes early, this Sloan candidate advised adding even more lead time:

“It was fairly difficult to find the building that admissions is in, so I would definitely recommend getting there early and leaving yourself a good buffer.”

Final Message from the Director

MIT Sloan Director of Admissions Dawna Levenson noted in “From the Desk of the Admissions Director” blog:

“The goal of the interview is to personally get to know you better and to hear more about your story and background.”

Are you preparing for your Sloan interview? Don’t forget to check out our Interview Guides for a deeper dive into each school’s process! Also, share your interview experience in our Interview Archive to help your fellow peers.

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