MBA Interviews | Setting Yourself Up for Success

Getting ready for take off (image: F18E777)

by: Grayson Leverenz

1. Review your research.
Remember a few weeks ago when you were writing your essays for that MBA application or drafting a cover letter to help you land this coveted job interview? It’s time to pull that research back out.

The first step in setting yourself up for interviewing success is to know what the school or company is  looking for in a candidate. You can glean this information through websites, annual reports and informational interviews. Identify 5 or 6 values through written pieces, and narrow down to the top 3 with the help of alumni contacts.

Here are some examples of values from top 20 MBA programs in the USA:

Commitment to innovation
Intellectual depth

2. Assess what you have to offer.
With your resume/application in hand and any professional feedback you have available (e.g. 360 assessments), document your strengths and skills. I’m a big fan of Dr. Shel Leanne’s approach from How to Interview Like a Top MBA: Job-Winning Strategies From Headhunters, Fortune 100 Recruiters, and Career Counselors that focuses on winning attributes and transferable skills.

Highlighting your winning attributes might be difficult, especially if you come from a background with high group orientation that doesn’t often recognize the achievements of individuals; however, it’s very important in the US MBA world. Schools and employers want to know about YOU, and how incorporating you into their culture will be mutually beneficial.

Create two lists, one for attributes and one for skills. The examples below will get you started.


Presenting effectively to gain buy-in
Performing complex analyses
Outlining steps to successful project completion
Delegating and empowering subordinates
Delivering feedback for optimal performance

Then, match items on your lists with the top values of the company or school.

3. Position yourself.
Now you’re ready to position yourself for the interview. Using your matches, highlight three communication points to ensure the interviewer remembers about you. Aim for unique points that positively differentiate you from other applicants.

Continuing with our example:
Enthusiastic team player able to effectively gain buy-in
Resourceful entrepreneur committed to completing innovative projects
Deeply analytical thinker that thrives on performing complex analyses

mba us job search

Author: Grayson Leverenz

Grayson Leverenz founded MBA in the USA® to help international students build networks, find jobs, and have fun in the USA. Hundreds of global professionals have benefited from Grayson’s intercultural workshops, and she has worked with people from Brazil, China, India, South Africa, South Korea, the UK, and the USA to build effective virtual teams and craft brilliant careers.

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