The why MBA interview answer is critical for you
The question “Why MBA?” is a standard question in the MBA admissions interview. The interviewer wants to know why you want to pursue an MBA degree in the first place, and how your particular background and ambitions fit with what they have to offer. This is a great question to ask yourself in advance because it will help you prepare for when you’re sitting across from someone asking you that same question. Here are some reasons why you should answer this question:
You want to get into business school!
The why MBA interview answer can be all-important because it is the very center of your candidacy. There is no getting selected if you don’t answer this one right.
You must have a clear goal for after the MBA
You must have a clear goal before you can answer ‘why MBA?’ because the reasoning for your MBA starts from your goals, not your need for education (which is itself drawn from your desire to achieve your goals).
If you don’t know what kind of job or career you want or what industry interests you, then it’s unlikely that an MBA will help much.
Yes, you need an MBA to get into management consulting or another high-paying job. But if that’s the only reason you want one, then there are other ways to reach your goal — like starting off as an analyst at a big company and working up from there. You’ll make more money in the short term and be more useful to society than if you were just another business school graduate who didn’t know how to run a company or solve business problems.
The best reason for going for an MBA is that it will help you achieve a specific career goal. Let’s say that after graduation from college, you want to be promoted into management at the company where you currently work as an engineer or accountant. Or perhaps there’s another company that has come along and made you an offer so good that if only they knew how much more valuable your skills were than those of their current employees, they’d be falling over themselves to hire you. Or maybe there’s some other opportunity out there that would make use of the skills and knowledge learned while studying at business school. If any of these scenarios apply to you then now is the time to start thinking about getting an MBA degree!
Focus on why you need an MBA to reach your goals
When you are interviewing for an MBA program, it’s important to understand why you want an MBA, and why you cannot achieve your goals without one. Your interviewer will want to know that you have a clear vision of what you want to do with your degree and how it will help you meet your goals.
The best way to explain this is by focusing on why you need an MBA to reach those goals.
Here are some examples:
I have been working in marketing for three years, but I need more knowledge about the financial side of the business. I need an MBA so I can understand how to use financial data and reports to make better decisions about marketing campaigns.
I love working with people, but I want to learn more about leadership skills so I can become a better manager. I’m also interested in developing my communication skills so I can better understand what motivates my team members.
Choose the new skills you want to learn in your MBA program.
To incorporate this aspect, you need to know what kind of answer the interviewer is looking for.
The interviewer wants to understand your motivations and goals. They want to know if you have a clear reason for getting an MBA, and they want to hear that reason in your own words.
Here are some common reasons why people choose to go back to school:
- To advance in their current career field
- To launch a new career or change industries entirely
- To improve their skills so they can get a promotion at work
Here are some points that might work well in your interview:
- I want to learn how to better manage people, processes, and projects and see how it works in different industries.
- I want to become a better leader by learning from other leaders and networking with them.
- I want to understand the process of starting a business and running it successfully, as well as managing all of the aspects involved with financing, marketing, operations, and exit strategies.
- I am interested in learning more about international business practices because my company’s future growth will depend on expanding internationally and selling products in foreign markets.
List the reasons you want to go to this particular school.
While sometimes this aspect is covered in another question (‘Why this school?’), you can improve your answer by also explaining why the school or program you are applying to appeals to you.
It’s a good idea to be specific about why you want an MBA. If your goal is to work in marketing, say that, rather than saying that you want to be a general manager or CEO.
You may want to explain how the school’s program will help you reach those goals. If you are applying to a top program, they will assume that you have other options and that they need to persuade you to come to them over those other schools. They want to know what makes their school special, and why you chose it over the others.
List the reasons you want to go to this particular school. Your reasons for getting an MBA are not generic – you are applying to this school because it offers you a specific combination of resources you need. Specify them.
The interviewer is trying to find out if your interests align with theirs, so be as specific as possible about what attracted you to their program, who teaches there and what classes they teach, and what kind of activities are available on campus (sports leagues, study groups), etc…
Caveats: Keep the following in mind
Be honest: The interviewer doesn’t expect you to lie; he or she just wants to get a sense of what’s motivating you and whether it aligns with the school’s mission. If your goal is to change careers, make sure that the school offers a good fit for that purpose since many programs are focused on career transitions. If you’re looking for networking opportunities, make sure that’s part of the program’s culture. And so on.
Be concise: You don’t have much time in an interview, so keep answers short and simple — make sure they’re not too long or boring!
Be enthusiastic: It’s important to show passion for whatever interests or motivates you in business school, whether it’s learning about international trade or helping underserved communities through entrepreneurship. If you don’t sound excited about something, why would anyone else be excited about it?
Sample responses to ‘Why MBA?’ on your MBA interview
Profile: engineering graduate in a development role, applying for an MBA to be a product manager
I have always been interested in the business world and how it works. I have had many jobs along my career path and they have all been interesting to me, though they have all been in coding. Along the way, I’ve built some great tools and systems and I’ve enjoyed that. I think I was really built for working in technology because I love to make things happen with other developers, especially when coding new product features in code.
However, what I’m most passionate about is building products for the market. A lot of my experience falls under this category — from managing development teams to leading product teams that build products every day. So when you ask me why I want an MBA, I’ll tell you this: I want to grow from being a coder to becoming a product manager.
I want to learn how to build business strategies and develop marketing strategies for our products (and not just write code). And I want to learn how to manage people who aren’t technical experts — something that’s never been part of my job description before. It’s also important to understand how different departments work together and how they interact with each other. In my case, for example, I worked on various projects as an engineer before I became a product manager. But there were still times when I couldn’t understand why certain decisions were made or why we did things in a certain way because I didn’t have enough background knowledge about other areas like sales or marketing.
Profile: Consulting analyst who wants to move upwards through an MBA
I have been working as an analyst for the past three years. I am interested in a career change and would like to apply for the MBA program at your school.
I know that many applicants are applying with similar backgrounds, so I want to stand out by explaining how an MBA would help me grow from an analyst to a business consultant.
In my current job, I work with clients on strategic initiatives across a variety of industries. I have developed expertise in two main areas: marketing and operations management. However, as an analyst, I am limited by my role as an implementer rather than the creator of solutions.
With an MBA from your school, I will be able to develop new skills that will allow me to work with clients on long-term strategies rather than short-term projects. Specifically, I will learn how to assess market trends and opportunities; develop strategies for growth; create budgets and forecasts; evaluate financial performance; identify problems or opportunities; manage resources effectively; develop effective teams; communicate effectively both internally and externally with stakeholders
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