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How to Answer Why This School Question in an MBA Interview


Use this video to provide the interviewer with a rich and convincing answer to why you wish to join their school. The pointers discussed in this MBA Interview Preparation video will help you articulate your seriousness about the program and how passionate you are to be a part of the school in question.


How to Answer "Why this School?" in an MBA Interview


While giving your MBA interview, you must keep in mind that business schools love to see sync between their candidates' career goals and the strengths of their program. The overarching goal of your MBA interview must be to provide your interviewer with two main takeaways that you are good enough and that you are deeply interested in the program. This question, "Why this school? or "Why this specific business school?" is an excellent way to address the second point; a strong answer will suggest that you have a sincere interest in pursuing an MBA from that business school, have thoroughly researched its offerings, and your application is very well deliberated. This article will cover the common mistakes committed by most candidates, the correct approach, and the possible follow-up questions.

The Most Common Mistakes


The most common mistake that trips up MBA candidates in trying to answer the "Why this school?" question is a lack of preparation. Some candidates even make the mistake of giving the interviewer a look that says, "Isn't it obvious?" Well if it is so obvious then share the obvious reasons; the interviewer is very interested in understanding your thought process. If you cannot readily elaborate upon your reasons for selecting that particular MBA program, it will suggest that you have not given your decision due thought; this, in turn, suggests a serious lack of maturity that will reflect poorly on you. Another major mistake that many candidates make in their MBA interviews is providing uni-dimensional answers to this question, typically along the lines of the concentrations offered, location, etc. You need to cite a healthy variety of reasons behind your decision to pursue an MBA from that specific business school; doing so will convey to the interviewer that you have carefully studied the school, before making a decision. One element that you must never include in your "Why this school?" answer is a criticism of other business schools; refrain from bringing down other schools, while talking about the quality of the one that you are applying to, only talk about your prospective school's positive attributes. In all contexts, it is quite important that you maintain a highly positive tonality throughout your MBA interview. Finally, avoid providing lame answers to this question; reasons along the lines of "It is ranked high." do not convey the level of maturity that is expected from an applicant to a premier business school.

The Correct Approach


From the very outset, you must have a clear and strong conviction on your reasons for applying to a particular business school; you will only be able to provide a convincing and authentic answer to the interviewer's question if you have conviction in the answer that you give. In order to pursue an MBA, you will have to invest a serious amount of time and money, and take up a significant opportunity cost; thus, it is important that you show the interviewer that you are confident in the wisdom of your decision. In order to formulate a strong career goals answer, link your goals, learning needs, and inspiration with the strengths of the program. Clearly, suggest how the program's unique attributes will help you develop the skills and knowledge base that you need to successfully pursue the professional goals that you have set for yourself; furthermore, suggest that you have taken adequate measures to fully understand the program.

Quite importantly, do not provide only one-two reasons why you intend to pursue your MBA from that particular business school; you must provide your MBA interviewer with a bouquet of reasons. Ideally, you should be able to speak one-two sentences, elaborating upon five or more reasons as to why you are targetting that business school. Below, you will find a glossary of reasons for "Why this school?"; please take some time to go through this list and understand which reasons apply to you.

Sync with the Desired Career Goals | Program Structure | Teaching Style | Relevant Concentration(s) | Experiential Approach | Collaborative Environment | Brand Value | Commendable Placement Record for the Desired Post MBA Role | Faculty and Intellectual Property | Location | Duration | Flexibility in Customizing the Curriculum | Myriad Student Activities | Relevant Student Clubs/Organizations | Centers of Excellence | Student Exchange Opportunities | Rich Campus Life | Career Services | Networking Events | Simulations | Inter-College Competitions | Class Profile Represented Nationalities/Industries/Functional Areas | Vast Choice of Electives | Incubation Support | Emphasis on Leadership Development | Experiential Learning Opportunities | ...

If you can find five or six reasons that resonate with you and speak one or two sentences about them, you will have a very rich answer that can be wrapped up in two minutes.

Research


As mentioned above, it is important to show your MBA interviewer that you have taken adequate measures to understand the school that you are applying to; here we will explain the best way to do so.

The best resource for learning about a school is always its website; be sure to absorb every detail mentioned on it. You can also learn a lot about the school by interacting with alumni and current students; however, while doing so avoid placing undue weight on placements rather talk about the program. Another very good way to learn about a business school is through campus visits and MBA fairs; these will afford you the opportunity to meet the admission committee members, themselves. There are also a number of good online resources that you can use for your research, such as GMAT Club, Poets & Quants, Accepted.com, etc.; you can also use LinkedIn to connect with alumni. By carefully applying these resources, you should be able to fully research the school you are applying to by the time of your MBA interview.

Possible Follow-Up Questions


There are a number of questions that your interviewer may follow up the "Why this school?" question with. We have prepared an exhaustive list of some of the most likely options; please go through it carefully.

- How will your batchmates benefit from your presence?
- Why don't you reach your career goals by continuing to work?
- How will you contribute as an alumnus?
- What attempts have you made to know about our MBA program?
- What will be your five key takeaways from your MBA experience?
- What specific skills do you hope to develop through your MBA experience?

For a more complete understanding of MBA interview preparation, please read the other articles, prepared by Experts' Global.

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