Whether you are applying for the class of 2022 or 2023 (which means you are applying in early or late 2021) the unusual year of 2020 will cast a long shadow over your admissions process.
Economic crises tend to increase the amount of MBA applicants which means that the cohorts you are applying to will be tougher to get into.
On top of that, MBA programs in general strongly felt the effects of the COVID-19 crisis and had to quickly adapt to changing conditions. The most obvious changes were on the academic side as class delivery shifted from a (mostly) classroom based, face to face process to one done virtually. However, MBA admissions has also changed and expect to see those changes manifest themselves especially during the interview.
How are MBA interviews changing in 2021?
The most palpable change is how some MBA programs are rethinking their interviews. Historically, there where three ways an applicant could sit for their interview:
- Travel to the campus where the MBA program is run for a face to face interview. This usually means that admissions staff will interview you, though some programs use their current MBA students as interviewers.
- Go to one of many remote interview locations that are not on campus. Depending on the amount of applicants a country has, someone from admissions may travel to that country and hold an "interview week". If a particular country or region has few applicants, some programs also hold face to face interview sessions in those places but in this case they are usually run by alumni.
- Connect through Zoom or Skype from wherever you are in the world for an interview with someone from admissions.
Under normal circumstances and when money was not an issue, candidate's order of preference would be 1 then 2 then finally 3. COVID-19 eliminated the possibility of 1 and 2, everyone was interviewed through Zoom and Skype.
While admissions claimed that they consider all interview types to be equal, the truth is that only the first option guaranteed a high quality interview and improved the chances of you forging a connection with your interviewer while also demonstrating to them how committed you are to getting into the program.
With all interviews being held virtually, admissions has realized that there are two benefits to this system - the playing field is leveled for all candidates (since money and time are no longer issues for getting to a face to face interview on campus) and they can interview more people per day and do so without having to depend on people ushering them in and out of the admissions department.
That means that preparing for interviews held virtually took on an extremely prominent role within all the prep an applicant has to go through for a successful MBA application, since virtual interviews are not a one-for-one replacement for face to face interviews.
What to expect on a MBA admissions interview in 2021?
2020 was a momentous year for every one on the planet. If you are a serious applicant that has an interesting track record, you probably faced complex challenges during that year. Admissions will definitively want to hear about what you faced and how you faced it - after all, COVID-19 was as close to a "universal equalizer" as we can hope for.
Prepare to answer how your world changed - and how you dealt with it - by using the PESTEL framework.
The PESTEL model helps applicants organize their thoughts and put forward a structured case of what they had to deal with during the COVID-19 crisis and all of its ramifications.
Each letter stands for a category that you can touch on when explaining what happened during that year:
- P - Political
- E - Economic
- S - Social
- T - Technological
- E - Environmental
- L - Legal
Think through each of those steps about how you and the people and organizations around you were affected in 2020.
Pick out the most interesting cases and articulate them in a compelling way for your interview with MBA admissions.
For better or for worse, 2020 changed the MBA landscape. From a higher number of applicants, to virtual classes, the standardization around virtual interviews and finally the inevitable questions about what you did in 2020 during your interview.
Take the time to properly think about those questions and make sure you do lots of practice runs so you are comfortable answering 2020 and COVID-19 questions.
Voomer is a great way to get that practice since it was built from the ground up with this scenario in mind.
Questions on Voomer match what you’ll get on the interview of your dream school. After going through a set of questions, you’ll get an artificial intelligence powered report on your results with specific, actionable steps you can take to improve your performance.
Your response is broken down into multiple components and analyzed individually and then as a whole. From delivery to content to body language and camera position, multiple data points are analyzed to ensure you have the best MBA video interview prep available.