Interview Prep Tips

“Why do you want an MBA?” and “Why MBA?” in your interview


Your interviewer will almost definitively ask this question during your interview. Though it seems like a simple, easy question, you’ll be surprised how many people stumble with their response, taking their chances of getting accepted.

Even if you have a great reason for applying to an MBA program inside your head, it pays to articulate that in a concise and compelling way that will make you a shoo-in applicant.

What is admissions looking for?

MBA applicants tend to focus on the requirements for getting into a particular program. That seems logical, since those requirements are usually listed on the admissions website (for example, GMAT ranges) and those requirements are used as a hard cut-off for applications – so they are extremely important.

They are also important for admissions, but think a little harder about who admissions wants in their program.

Admissions wants two things: People that have achieved great things in the past and will achieve even greater things in the future.

That’s why the “why do you want an MBA” question is so important. This gives the person interviewing a clue as to what you are going to do with your MBA. Every business school wants their alumni to go on to do great things – increasing the prestige of said business school.

How to answer “why do you want an MBA” on your interview?

Get all the reasons for applying to an MBA that are inside your head into words. Be forward thinking, reflect on what you want to accomplish next and how an MBA will help you get there.

Looking at all those reasons, pick out the one that makes sense with the narrative arc of your life and career while at the same time pointing to an exciting future.

So for example, if you worked all your life in big pharma and want to apply that knowledge to a small scale biotech – mention that! Compliment your answer with comments on how an MBA is key to fill in gaps in your knowledge and how you’ll be able to make connections with people from the science and medicine departments of the university – clearing a path for you to join a start up.

Another example is if you’ve worked in small non profits all your life and want to amplify your impact through a larger organization. Or you’re a career corporate warrior and want to take on more demanding and complex roles, potentially even starting new departments and leading culture shifts.

Mention your past, but focus your answer on the future and why an MBA will get you there.

What NOT to answer!

I’ve seen people mention this all the time when asked “why do you want an MBA” in an interview and they are all answers that will greatly diminish your chances of getting accepted:

  1. I want to increase my income
  2. This MBA program has a great ROI
  3. I already live in this city, so it is convenient
  4. I currently live in a foreign country and want to live in the country where the program is held
  5. I wasn’t accepted into the other programs I applied to
  6. I’ll only get a promotion if I have an MBA

These might very well be reasons for you to get an MBA, but they should never be the main reason. If you do what you love well, you’ll probably reach those goals as a consequence of going a great job.

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The question “why do you want an MBA” might seem trivial and you might think you have it squared away inside your head – actually articulating it in a compelling way to someone from admissions in an interview is a whole different ball game.

Take the time to properly think about this question and make sure you do lots of practice runs so you are comfortable answering “why do you want to do an MBA?”.

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.

By David Anderton-Yang

David Anderton-Yang is the CEO and co-founder of Voomer where AI as a force for good, helping people be more confident on video.

He is a former researcher at the MIT Media Lab, Forbes 30 Under 30 honoree.

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