5 11, 2014

Top MBA Interview Questions – What Can You Expect?

By |2019-01-03T17:33:21-05:00November 5th, 2014|Darden, EMBA, Fuqua, GMAT, GRE, Harvard, HBS, IE, INSEAD, Ivy League, Kellogg, LBS, MBA, MBA Admissions, MBA Essays, MIT Sloan, Ross, vanderbuilt, Wharton|1 Comment

Top MBA Interview Questions  – What Can You Expect?

Are you one of the lucky ones?  Have you been invited to interview at one of the top-tier MBA programs you applied to in Round 2?  Even if you’re now just applying Round 3, the below can help you learn what kinds of questions admission officers are asking this year, and what tips can help you give the best impression possible!

1. “Tell me about your career choices since leaving college?”

What interviewers are looking for here, is what I call a “logical progression.”  They’re looking to see a focused path regarding both how and why you moved from point A to point B, to point C, and if you don’t have a focused path (which accounts for a large amount of applicants, so don’t worry) they simply want to see and understand the reasons you jumped around.  It has to sound LOGICAL.  It has to add up to who and where you are NOW.

The main thing that will get you dinged here?  Impulsiveness – that’s what this question is trying to screen out.  They want to make sure you’re just not all over the place and flaky, because then, you know, you may leave the program, too.

2. “What accomplishment are you most proud of at your current job?”

Here, the interviewer is trying to get a sense of the amount of responsibility you hold in your current position, as the thing you are most proud of will not only (most likely) show off your best strength as an employee, but will show what character trait you actually value most – and that gives them great information about YOU.

The main thing that will get you dinged with this question? Not speaking up with confidence or failing to explain or back up your answer.

3. “When have you strongly differed in opinion from someone at work?”

Give your best example that had a positive outcome!  Admissions is trying to see if you have what it takes to speak up and make a serious difference in your workplace, but also are looking for you to describe how there was a positive solution to the difference that ended up working in your favor.  If your example didn’t work out in your favor – choose another example!

4. “What is an example of something really difficult you’ve had to go through, or important event in the last 5-7 years?”

Again, here the committee is trying to get a sense of your professional journey and what stands out in your mind, which is going to parallel highly with what you most value.  They are simply trying to understand who you are professionally, and how you see yourself in relation to others.

The one thing that will get you dinged on this question?  Not having a strong and solid answer.  It’s really not so much what you say, but how you say it.  Always speak with confidence as the fastest thing to get you dinged on all of your questions is a wishy-washy, weak, one-word response.

5. “Why an MBA now,  and why our school?”

Most likely, you already wrote an essay for this question, so just review all of your essays before going into your interview.  Your answer to the first part, “Why an MBA now?” should really take into consideration why NOW is, in fact, the most logical time to get your degree. The word “now” is key.  They want to see the logic behind your decision.

The second part, “Why HBS, Wharton, Columbia, Booth, Kellogg, MIT Sloan or NYU Stern?” just to name a few, should focus on the particular program’s attributes that are specific to your career.

What they are trying to screen for in this question, is again, impulsiveness = they don’t like it.  Everything you do, even if your career so far hasn’t been as smooth or uninterrupted as you would like, should still have a reason, an explanation, an arc, a journey as if everything you’ve done to get you where you are still has value – value that can be used and drawn upon now in your current career.

In the end, your interview should be conversational, dynamic, and engaging!  In other words, just try to have a very real and engaging conversation.  If you’ve gotten this far, it’s a very good sign that you are already on your way!

[I’m a former Harvard admissions interviewer and a Harvard graduate.  I currently run the MBA admissions firm: MBA IVY out of NYC.  I provide expert advice on MBA essays and applications to students all over the world, and offer free initial consultations, so please contact me today! www.MBAIvy.com]
3 11, 2014


By |2014-11-03T12:21:32-05:00November 3rd, 2014|Darden, EMBA, Fuqua, GMAT, GRE, Harvard, HBS, IE, INSEAD, Ivy League, Kellogg, LBS, MBA, MBA Admissions, MBA Essays, MIT Sloan, Ross, Wharton|0 Comments

Scheduling your MBA interviews?

2 10, 2014

Top Five Things That Will Get You Dinged on Your MBA Applications

By |2019-12-03T09:07:43-05:00October 2nd, 2014|Darden, EMBA, Fuqua, GMAT, Harvard, HBS, IE, INSEAD, Ivy League, Kellogg, LBS, MBA, MBA Essays, MIT Sloan, Ross, vanderbuilt, Wharton|5 Comments

HBS, Wharton, Columbia, NYU Stern, Kellogg, Booth, they’re all the same when it comes to one thing: “dings.”  If you’re applying for your MBA degree this year, you’re probably all too familiar with what that little word means. “Dings” are the marks made against you on your MBA application, the things you’ve done wrong, your failings, the things that will keep you from the MBA degree and business school and career of your dreams.  “Dings” = MBA slang for really, really bad.

What if you knew ahead of time though, the top five things that you could avoid that would make sure an MBA admission officer’s “ding” on your application never happened?  What if you could in fact, avoid the “dings” altogether and create a stellar application, by avoiding the most common dings, below?

Again, these are the top five things NOT to do:

1. DING #1:  Speaking in a general versus personal matter = don’t do it.

This happens way too frequently among MBA applicants.  In the essays, the applicant makes very general and sweepingly broad statements about “society” or “the global climate,” or “the issue” and goes on and on from their soapbox making a broad, generalized point, without really letting the admissions committee see them and who they are personally as an applicant.  So, if you never use the word “I” in your essay and you find yourself talking about the various “ills of society” too much = DING.

2. DING #2:  Not following though with your examples

Let’s say the question is, “Tell Us About A Time You Overcame Failure.”  You have an example, you state where you were working at the time; you state what happened…the failure…and then you just stop on the negative.  You’ve stated your answer as if it’s a fill-in-the-blank question.  However, you have failed to provide any kind of self-reflection in the essay about why this “failure” occurred, how it influenced your life and career, and what you learned and took away from it that was positive (you always want to end on the positive).  So, not stating these things, not following through on your examples is akin to answering someone in monotone = DING.

3. DING #3:  Not knowing how to write well

You don’t have to be Shakespeare, you do have to be able to write well.  Think about it, you’re applying for an MBA degree, and if all goes well, in the future you will be an executive or manager in charge of various employees, teams, and divisions.  You better know how to write, regardless of your field.  At the management level you represent the company.  The MBA essays are the first place they look for clear, concise, logical and properly structured writing.  If you can’t do it, get help.  If you can’t do it, and you go ahead and turn bad writing in, thinking it doesn’t really matter and your essays are convoluted, unclear, grammatically incorrect or just plain confusing and/ or sounds like your eight year old wrote it = BIG DING.

4. DING #4: Not building a logical bridge

Often people use the MBA degree to bridge the gap between their past career (possibly even in a different field), and their future plans.  “Dings” happen on this front however, when applicants fail to make their journey from point A to point B very clear and laid-out.  How are you going to go from a mechanical engineer to a strategy consultant focused on tech investments?  How does all your past experience figure in? Tell us.  Tell us in detail.  Make sure your plan is accurate. People switch careers all the time, and what the admission committees look for is simply:  is your plan LOGICAL, does it make sense? Have you laid it out?  Fail to show the necessary steps, or worse, not be clear about the steps yourself = HUGE DING.

5. DING #5: Not speaking with confidence

This one seems self-explanatory, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve come across applicants who write in a very self-deprecating way.  They say things like, “if it’s possible for me to become a (fill in the blank) and go to your great school…”  In other words, they put the school way up here on a pedestal, and themselves way down here in the plebeian mud.  Don’t do it.  The men and women who will one day be the top executives and leaders in their field KNOW they belong at these schools.  There’s no self-deprecation, because they know they have just as much to contribute to the school as they will receive.  There is no pedestal.  Think otherwise and  = DING.  Show them you know you belong!

Avoid these five “dings” and you will be in much better shape than most of the MBA applicants out there. Master the essays, and you will have an excellent chance at success!

[I’m a former Harvard interviewer and a Harvard graduate and currently run the MBA admissions firm: www.MBAIvy.com Contact me today for a free phone consultation, and get into the school of your dreams!]

21 09, 2014

Successful MBA Sample Essays That Got Applicants Into HBS & Wharton

By |2019-01-03T17:32:01-05:00September 21st, 2014|College Admissions, Darden, EMBA, Fuqua, GMAT, GRE, Harvard, HBS, IE, INSEAD, Ivy League, Kellogg, LBS, MBA, MBA Admissions, MBA Essays, MIT Sloan, Ross, vanderbuilt, Wharton|1 Comment


Last year HBS had a 12% accept rate with over 9,000 applicants.  The other top MBA programs in the U.S. – Wharton, Stanford, Kellogg, Booth, Columbia and MIT Sloan, just to name a few had similar tight competition.  We’ve already discussed the necessary GMAT score ranges and interview skills needed in other blog posts that give you a chance at the top.  The question here then is, what makes an applicant’s MBA essay successful, and what can you do to raise yourself among the best?”

The answer to that question is to start by looking at some very successful essays.  What does a good essay look like?  The best resource I’ve found to pass on to the curious, is this resource here:

65 Successful Harvard Business School Application Essays


BUT, read with caution because even though I believe this book will help you better understand how to differentiate between a good essay and a bad one (and thereby help you honestly assess where you fall) it doesn’t do much for helping you tell your story, your background, or your professional vision.  And, believe me, the ad com has read this book too, so if your essays sound too similar in structure or content to what’s in the book…let’s just say the word “ding” comes to the forefront of my mind.

So, what can you do?  How can you make your MBA essays successful and land you a place at the top?  HBS of course changed their requirements this year, and only asks applicants for one personal statement and are completely open in what they’re asking (read: pressure!), however other MBA programs are still asking the standard, traditional questions:

“What are your short and long-terms goals?” “Why a Columbia MBA?” (or Wharton, Stanford, NYU Stern, LBS, INSEAD), “What are Your Greatest Strengths and Weaknesses? “What Matters to You Most and Why?” and, of course, the “Optional Essay” (which should never be optional – did you hear that… make it optional and you’re passing up a great opportunity to tell the committee even more about you.  You’re trying to stand out from 9,000 other applicants…I’d take that opportunity.

So, what do the successful MBA essays have in common that catapulted their authors into the Top Ten?

1. GOOD WRITING:  This can’t be more stressed.  Having solid experience isn’t enough, you must be able to structure your experience and narrative in a way that makes a clear and strong argument for why you would be a valuable addition to the MBA class.  That’s what you’re really answering in every question —  “This is what I’ve done, and this is why I am valuable.”

2. Let Them See Your Process:  The ad com doesn’t just want to see a static goal, they want to understand the process of how you got there.  Your decision making process.  How you make and are making the hard career choices in your life and why.

That’s much more revealing about you as an applicant than just a passive, simple statement that says, “I want to be _____ when I graduate.”  Show them your decision-making process and why your goals truly make sense.

3. Be Realistic: The best essays are the ones where the applicants have realistic long-term goals.  This doesn’t mean your goals can’t be BIG, but it does mean that if they are big, that you already have something in your background (experience at a Fortune 500 company, a degree from an Ivy League school, patents under your name if you’re perhaps an entrepreneur).  SOMETHING that shows your long-term vision has a foundation that makes it at least seem possible.

Lay out your course of action, your road map, that shows how you plan to get where you want to go. Too far-fetched with absolutely nothing to back it up = Dinged.

4. Ask for Help: There are a lot of MBA admissions firms out there now, and people are using them; your competition for that elusive HBS “Admitted” 12% is using them.  Make sure you either have the confidence in your own writing skills to put your best foot forward on paper, and if you don’t, get help.  The top consultants never rewrite your essays for you, but provide detailed comments and suggestions to help you get your own essays back on track.

[I’m a former Harvard admissions interviewer and a Harvard graduate, and currently run the MBA admissions firm MBA IVY, out of Manhattan.  Like more information?  Please contact me for a free phone consultation today:  www.MBAIvy.com]

18 09, 2014

Your MBA Application Strategy – How Many Schools?

By |2019-01-03T17:37:42-05:00September 18th, 2014|Darden, EMBA, Fuqua, GMAT, GRE, Harvard, HBS, IE, INSEAD, Ivy League, Kellogg, LBS, MBA, MBA Admissions, MBA Essays, MIT Sloan, Ross, vanderbuilt, Wharton|0 Comments

Applying for an MBA is time consuming, as well as stressful.  How many schools should you apply to? Is it even worth it to go to a “lesser” school’s MBA program?  Will a mid-tier or even lower-tier school help you get to where you want to go?  How many applications are average?  What is the best possible strategy before you enter a land of diminished returns?

In my opinion, the most important thing an MBA candidate can do is plan and structure their application strategy.  By this I mean, decide upfront if you only want to apply to the top-tier U.S. MBA programs (Kellogg, Booth, Wharton, HBS, NYU Stern, MIT Sloan, and Columbia) and if you don’t get in, reevaluate again for next round or next year….or not.  OR, if you would actually be pretty pleased at a mid-tier or even lower-tier school, and if a degree from those MBA programs will truly meet your future professional needs.

I’ve had students who’ve done it both ways:  some only want to go to the top MBA programs and if they don’t get in they would rather stay on their current course at their company, and perhaps get a few more years of work experience and promotion under their belt before trying again, or simply try to move up without an MBA degree.

Others, simply want to go to any MBA program that will have them, as their trust is more in the MBA degree itself than the actual school.  They simply want the degree.

Which is the right choice?

In my opinion, if you have the credentials, and especially if you’re in the Finance Industry, the top programs are the only way to go. HBS, Wharton, Booth, and Kellogg, if you can get in, and this goes double if you’re an investment professional and intend to work in a large city like New York.  The top schools are key in the Northeast region for advancement.  A low-range school isn’t going to help you much if your dream is to quickly climb to the top of your field at Morgan Stanley or Deloitte.

However, you may not only be able to get by with a mid or lower range school if you want to set down roots in another region of the country  = it might actually HELP you.

For example, say you have family and want to stay in Tennessee, Atlanta, or North Carolina.  The Southern schools (Fuqua, Darden, Emory and Vanderbuilt) are going to serve you better in my opinion, than even the Top Ten schools in the NE, because your network, opportunities, and alumni connections in that particular region of the country are going to be that much stronger.

So, what do you do?  First, decide where you want to be.  In the NYC, shoot for the top.  In the South, head for the regional schools, out West in Silicon Valley? Stanford or any of the other Top Ten are key (along with UCLA Anderson).  The Midwest?  Ross is a great mid-tier selection. Tailor your school choice during this application stage to your long-term location goals.  It may actually give you even more opportunity than you realized.

Oh, and how many schools should you apply to?  If you’re open to not limiting yourself to top-tier, spread it out so you’ll increase your overall chances, applying to some from each level: top-tier, mid-tier, low-tier.  I would also think about applying to 5-6 schools.  Remember, you don’t have to make a choice until you actually get in, which I sincerely hope you do!

[I’m a former Harvard interviewer and a Harvard graduate, and I currently run the MBA admissions firm MBA IVY, out of Manhattan.  Like more information?  Please fill out my contact form and request more info, today: www.MBAIvy.com]

15 09, 2014


By |2019-01-03T17:37:30-05:00September 15th, 2014|College Admissions, EMBA, GMAT, Harvard, HBS, MBA, MBA Admissions|0 Comments

You’ve had the big name internships, you’ve worked for a few years at a Fortune 500 company, most likely in a large city and now have that under your belt, and you have very strong and solid ambition for your future with specific, actual short and long-term goals.  Add a GMAT score that breaks 710, and even better 720, and you are certainly in the running.  So, what are you chances of really getting in to a top MBA program, if you have all of the above?

Good!  Allow me to say that the above makes you an ideal competitive Ivy League and Top Ten MBA candidate…on paper.  Your job is to now enhance that paper any way you can, so you stand out even more among the hundreds of other highly competitive MBA & EMBA candidates who have the exact same credentials.

In other words, you’ve made it through the gate by acquiring the above, but now you have to be offered a chance to sit down.

The best way to do this?  I’ll break it down into four sections below:

1. Your Resume:  Make sure your resume looks tight and clean.  You want a resume that looks simple, solid, straightforward and professional.  ideally it should fit on one page, unless you’ve had over 7 years work experience.

Applicants worry a lot about their job descriptions on their resume and spend much too much time playing around and changing little words that don’t matter.  What matters is how your resume looks. Ad coms can tell immediately if an applicant is a serious contender by just glancing at the resume, alone.

Is it easy to read?  Is it structured in a clean, lean way? Are you using “action verbs” that make your resume sound driven and energized versus passive, and are you showing responsibility within your descriptions -including # of employees you manage, if any, and the general level of financials that pass through your department or deals.  Remember, numbers show responsibility clearer than anything else.

2. Your Essays:  This is your chance to shine, and by that I mean “out shine” the man or woman sitting next to you who is also competing for your spot.  Use the essays to show what makes you different.  To show your level of responsibility, to show how you solve problems, are creative, and can work around challenge on the job.

If you’re having difficulty thinking of the right experience to write about, choose an experience that brings up a lot of EMOTION.  That emotion, good or bad, is going to come through in your writing as powerful, and powerful is exactly the type of essay that is going to be remembered and set you apart.

3. Your Rec Letters:  Choose your recommenders wisely.  You want someone who knows you well, and is, ideally, in a higher, more supervising position than you.  Some recommenders will ask you to lay out some guidelines of what you would like them to talk about in the letter, while others will prefer to write the letters solely on their own.  The bottom line is, try to briefly familiarize them with your goals, so they can speak to the fact that they understand “why” you want your MBA at this particular time.

4. Your Interview:  The interview is also your chance to shine, and demonstrate your confidence and security in speaking about your future.  The strongest interviews are those where applicants fully realize they are choosing the school via the interview just as much as the school is choosing them.  There’s an equality to the best interviews, and a flow that demonstrates  again, confidence, and an ability to make the other comfortable and have an engaging conversation.

Put these four points together, and speak confidently about your background, goals, and experience demonstrating that you know your industry and what it takes to get to the top, and you’ll be on your way.

[I’m a former Harvard interviewer and a Harvard graduate, and currently run the MBA admissions firm MBA IVY, out of Manhattan.  For more information, go to:   www.MBAIvy.com]

9 09, 2014


By |2019-01-03T17:37:18-05:00September 9th, 2014|College Admissions, EMBA, GMAT, Harvard, HBS, MBA, MBA Admissions|1 Comment

Now that MBA deadlines are either finished (for Round 1) or approaching soon enough (Round 2), I thought a great topic for today’s post would be the most frequent question I get from my MBA students and clients:  “How important is the interview, and what can I expect?”

Usually, this is asked with some degree of trepidation, as most people don’t like going into a situation blind where the person on the other end seemingly has all the control in terms of your future.

To quell some fears though, here are some very valuable tips regarding the MBA (and EMBA) interview, and what it’s all about:

1. They really do just want to get to know you –  MBA admission officers sort through hundreds and hundreds of applicants.  They really do just want to be able to put a face with a name, to understand just a little bit more about you, to gain a sense (and an opinion) about how you carry yourself, your level of confidence, the way you enter a room,  carry a conversation, make someone else feel comfortable talking to you, and your ability to demonstrate that you have thought everything through and can thereby easily articulate your goals.

2. MBA interviewers are looking for professionalism –  Especially at the top schools like HBS, Booth, Kellogg, Columbia, Stanford, Wharton, MIT Sloan and NYU.    You have already turned in your resume and your application – now, they are looking to see if you truly match your experience in person: if you are a professional that they would be more than pleased to have as a graduate of their program; if they feel you will fit in to their program’s environment and their world.

3. They will most likely also ask you about your latest project at work, what your work culture is like, why an MBA now, and what your “Plan B” is in your career should all your plans fail  – All of this though is mainly to simply see if you have thought out your trajectory.  To really gage if an MBA degree is truly a strategic course of action that has clear benefits to your personally stated goals, or if it is something you are just doing because you want to change course to something and don’t really know what else to do at this time in your career (i.e. not a good answer).

4. And, finally, they want to see how you close a meeting.  In the interview and in life, always leave on a strong note –  Ideally, you wan to leave the interviewer feeling solid about the time they’ve spent with you.  To leave them with the impression that it was a pleasure to get to know you and who you are.  You do this, once again, by projecting confidence:  confidence in your goals, confidence in your plans, confidence in your trajectory.

All these things combined will add up to one great interview, and if your resume, essays, and test scores can back all of that up?  Well, you’ll be on your way towards exactly where you want to go.

[I’m a former Harvard admissions interviewer and a Harvard graduate.  I currently run the MBA admissions firm MBA IVY, out of Manhattan. I also offer free interview prep for all of my official clients. Take a look at my website, and contact me today!  www. MBAIvy.com ]

2 09, 2014


By |2019-01-03T17:37:06-05:00September 2nd, 2014|EMBA, GMAT, Harvard, HBS, MBA, MBA Admissions|2 Comments

As a former Harvard interviewer and Harvard graduate, I see applicants repeatedly making the same mistakes on their MBA essays and applications, which result in them NOT getting in to their top schools.

Here are the “Top 3” MBA Application Mistakes — for best results,  try to avoid them at all costs:

MISTAKE #1: Assuming Your Reader Has Your Resume Right In Front Of Them

This is the number 1 mistake I come across, year after year:  You can never assume your reader is looking at your resume while they read.  For this reason, you must always orient your reader as to who you are (i.e. your current position and industry), just very briefly at the start of each essay, so there is at least an immediate and clear understanding of who you are professionally.  To not do this leaves your reader lost, and a lost reader could mean you’re dinged.

MISTAKE #2: Sounding Like A College Student Versus An MBA Applicant

Kids applying to college talk about their past achievements and activities in their essays, and what makes them “well-rounded.”  MBA applicants should be talking about their current position, their professional goals, and their career, using past experiences as examples, not the main attraction.

The ad com, especially at the top schools like HBS, Wharton, and Kellogg are most interested in seeing how you frame your own experiences in the context of your longer term goals and career.  Unlike college applicants, you’re not just showcasing achievements, or telling about an experience.  You’re showing that you UNDERSTAND them.

MISTAKE #3: Not Following the Rules

This last one is extremely frequent: MBA essays and their word requirements.  Some schools (i.e. HBS) have done away with all word requirements, but most schools still have them.  Think you can just ignore them, and go 50, 75, 200 words over the limit on your essays because you need more space to make your point?

Think again.

How can you claim to be a strong future leader and manager when you have just demonstrated you can easily step over authority? How can you prove that you are capable of paying attention to important details on a trade or a deal, when you have just disregarded the details here in full view?  The rules are there for more reasons than one – stick to them, as well as the tips above and your overall results this year will be that much stronger!


[I currently run the MBA admissions firm: MBA IVY out of New York, and have an excellent success rate getting clients in to the most highly competitive MBA & EMBA programs:  www.MBAIvy.com ]

Go to Top