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Be sure to read my Key Posts on the admissions process. Topics include essay analysis, resumes, recommendations, rankings, and more.

November 04, 2011

Chicago Booth MBA Admission Interviews

If you are preparing for a Chicago Booth MBA interview for entry into the Class of 2014, read this post after you read my general post on interview strategy. If you are looking for my analysis of Booth's essays for Fall 2012 admission, you can find it hereIn addition to receiving many reports from my clients, I have reviewed reports of University of Chicago Booth interviews found at accepted.com and clearadmit.com

You need to know your resume completely as you will most 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. Booth interviews are conducted blind, so your interview will not have read your application. The only thing they will have is your resume. Most interview reports indicate extensive questions about the contents of the resume. As such it serves form main functions:
A First Impression: Most interviewers will have your resume even before they meet you. For resume-only interviews, it really is their first impression of you.  Make sure your resume is really designed for ease of use by the interviewer.  One of my objectives when helping a client with a resume is always to focus on how effective the resume is for this purpose.
Agenda Setting Device: To a greater or lesser extent, a resume has an agenda setting function in many interviews.  While schools will provide interviewers with varying levels of guidance about what questions to ask, the resume may very well form the basis for some of the questions that you receive. 
Booby Trap:  The resume can blow-up in your face if you are not careful.  Failure to review your own resume closely prior to interviewing can put you in an awkward position if you are not fully prepared to discuss everything on it.
Your Main Depository of Past Experience Answers: Since you have presumably highlighted many of the key things you would actually want to discuss on your resume, it is in essence, a primary source for your answers to past experience questions. Especially when I working with a client with limited English ability, I will tell them to practice explaining “Who What Why How When” questions related to their resume.
In addition, since you might get asked to “Tell me something about yourself that is not covered on your resume,” you can use the resume to figure out what that would be.

Prepare to answer routine MBA questions. Most reported interviews simply consist of them. Have a few questions ready to ask your interviewer about the things that are most important to you and your MBA experience. Getting answers to your questions is an equally important part of any B-school interview." 

My colleague, Steve Green, has gone through reports and put together the following list of common Booth questions:

  1. Walk me through your resume, but make sure you highlight just a couple of key achievements.
  2. Tell me about yourself.
  3. Why did you pick your major? Why did you earn a Master’s degree?
  4. What are you hobbies / other interests and why?
  1. What are your short-term goals?
  2. Why are you pursuing an MBA?
  3. What do you expect from your MBA in the long term?
  4. Why now?
  5. Why Booth?
  6. What other schools have you applied to?  
    • How do you compare them to Booth?
    • How would you decide between two schools?
    • Why would you choose Booth over those?
  7. What will you contribute to Booth?
  8. What do plan to do outside the classroom at Booth?
  9. What is your Plan B if you don’t get accepted to any b-schools?
  10. You will not meet most of you classmates after the two years at school. How will you make sure you learn the most from this distinguished set of people? How will YOU make sure they learn from you?
  11. Clarifying questions about Booth’s program.
  12. What professional groups will you join?
  13. Which social groups will you join?
  14. Booth has classes that present different settings: group-based, individual, project-based. Which ones do you have a preference for? Why?
  15. What will you contribute to Booth, or what will you bring to the Booth community?
  16. What if you hate your internship - what is Plan B
  17. Place yourself 30 years in the future… what would you define then as having been successful?
  1. What is your leadership style, and how do you function when you are not a leader in a team?
  2. Tell me about your leadership style?
  3. What is one area of weakness you would like to work on regarding your leadership style why earning an MBA?
  4. Discuss a time when you had to manage a difficult team or teammate, and how did handle that experience?
  5. Tell me about one occasion in which you displayed leadership.
  6. Tell me a solution you have recently proposed to your employer (asked for an example in my last setting)
  7. Can you tell me about a time when you made an unpopular decision
  8. What is your most defining leadership experience
  9. Describe your leadership style with an example
  10. Tell me about your leadership experience. What/who has influenced your leadership style?
  11. Please give me an example of a leadership-based conflict you experienced.
  12. Tell me about a leadership failure you experienced. How will it help you at Booth?

  1. What role do you take on in a team? How have you handled a team-based conflict?
  2. Can you tell me about a time that you led your team / convinced your team to do something
  3. Can you tell me about a time that you led a team over a period of time
  4. Can you tell me about a time that you resolved conflict within your team
  5. Can you tell me about a time when you disagreed with someone at your level

  1. Tell me about a time you encountered a challenge?
  2. Tell me about a decision you made that you later regretted.
  3. You have had a lot of success in the past. How do you handle failure?
  4. Tell me something you feel passionate about.
  5. What do you think is a weakness that people can have inside or outside of work
  6. Tell me something about you that I could not know from reading your resume
  7. What are 3 things your friends would describe about you?
  1. What are the differences you've found between different nationalities while working in a multinational?
  2. How is a regular day in your line of work?
  1. Is there anything that we have not covered that would like to point out, on or off your resume?
  2. Do you have any questions for me?

The quality of the interviews really varies. The reports on both sites are with students and alum. Some interviewers are reported to be great and some are not. I think it is important to keep in mind what Chicago says:
Interviews are conducted by admissions staff, students, or alumni. They are held on campus or in a location convenient for the prospective student. All interviews, regardless of who conducts them, receive equal weight in the evaluation process.

While that is true, the reality is that if you can choose, most applicants should take admissions staff. Students and alumni can vary in quality and level of fairness, but on balance admissions officers are more likely to treat you fairly and will be professional. That said, if you think you may do better with alumni, act accordingly. From my perspective, some older Chicago alumni tend to have an outdated view of the school and this can hurt some interviewees who do not intend to focus on finance.  I have noticed that here in Japan, the interviewers now tend to be more recent graduates.  Based on some of my client reports, those applicants with relatively weak English speaking skills are likely to find an alumni interview easier if it is conducted by someone of the same nationality.

5. Reported interview length could be from 30 to 60 minutes, with most reported interviews taking about 45 minutes.

Best of luck with admission to Booth for Fall 2012!

-Adam Markus

I am a graduate admissions consultant who works with clients worldwide. If you would like to arrange an initial consultation, please complete my intake form. Please don't email me any essays, other admissions consultant's intake forms, your life story, or any long email asking for a written profile assessment. The only profiles I assess are those with people who I offer initial consultations to. Please note that initial consultations are not offered when I have reached full capacity or when I determine that I am not a good fit with an applicant.
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