The MBA Intervew

Most Executive MBA programmes are highly selective and use various tools, including an application form and interview, to pick the course’s best candidates. Admissions officers are generally interested in three things; are you going to complete the course, are you going to do well, and what do you add to the cohort. 

Attrition rates can be as high as 23% for UK Masters degrees in some subject areas, and on average, 10% of MBA students will drop out before the end of the course. Many senior roles require an MBA as evidence that the applicant has well-rounded business knowledge that will allow them to lead large teams with significant budgets. If you are in a role where progression requires an MBA, then that is a good marker that you will complete. If not, you will need to provide evidence that you can commit to a long term commitment alongside your work. 

Masters degrees are graded into three categories, Pass, Merit, and Distinction, with students required to get a minimum of 50% in assessments to get a Pass, 60-69% to get a Merit, and over 70% for a Distinction. A part of the national and global ranking of a course is determined by the percentage of students who graduate and what grade they achieve, so admissions offices can be highly selective to keep these statistics high. You need to show that you can work at a high level and produce academic writing.

What you add to the cohort is particularly important for an MBA, where discussion, peer work, and networking form a large part of the course and a significant selling point for applicants. The Admissions Officers need to know that you fit with the course’s ethos and that you have unique perspectives on topics that will be covered to add to academic conversations. Finally, it is important that after graduation, you will raise the prestige of the course and institution by achieving things of note. For an Executive MBA, you should have a clear idea of what you want to achieve professionally and what sets you apart from other applicants.

The interview

Your application form’s success is largely down to your experiences and achievements so far and is not something that you can quickly improve. However, the interview is a chance for you to provide context to your application, so it is essential to prepare. An Executive MBA is a significant commitment of time and money, so the interview is also an opportunity for you to ask questions to help you make your decision if the course is right for you. 

The Admissions Officer will want to ask you questions about elements of your application, including details of your experience, your career goals, and how the course will help get you there. It is an excellent idea to do some reading about the course, and advisor you are meeting, past graduates, and come prepared to discuss personal and professional achievements. University cohorts and graduate opportunities are increasingly international, so it is essential to note your international experiences. 

QS HE insights and rating organisation suggest some questions that you should prepare some answers for before the interview:

  • Why the EMBA and what led you to make the decision about attending business school at this time?
  • How will the EMBA assist you in achieving your short and long term goals?
  • What are you looking to get out of the program?
  • Tell us about your work experience and how an MBA will fit with plans for the future?

Final notes

  • Treat it like an important meeting and dress appropriately.
  • Know what makes you stand out from other applicants.
  • Have a clear idea of what you want to achieve in your professional career and why an MBA is necessary.
  • Do some brief research on the admissions officer you will meet to show your interest and commitment
  • Have some notes around:
    • Your background
    • Education
    • Career history
    • Goals and aspirations for the future
    • Why this specific course is of interest to you
    • Why a business degree