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Top Stanford GSB MBA Interview Tips from Actual Interviewees

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As reports of Stanford GSB interview invitations trickle into LiveWire, we’re taking the opportunity to round up useful advice from the Clear Admit Interview Guide, as passed on by interviewed candidates themselves.

Before we dig into the key takeaways from last year’s lucky invitees, here are a few basics about the structure of the interviews at Stanford. Most Stanford MBA interviews are conducted by trained GSB alumni, but the school says that an adcom member may also serve as an interviewer. In any case, Stanford interviews are “blind,” meaning that the interviewer will only have had access to the résumés of invited candidates, not their entire files.

Stanford admissions interviews are behavioral in nature, with the school seeking to understand applicants’ past actions and responses in certain situations. That being said, candidates should still be ready for the basic questions such as “why an MBA,” “why now,” “why Stanford,” etc., as some applicants have reported being asked about these topics.

Go With the Flow

As interviewers try to dig deeper for details, candidates can expect a particular style of interview:

“He explained that he had a certain set of questions to ask me and he had to identify certain behaviors, so not to be surprised if he needs to interrupt me while speaking.”

“The interviewer ‘interrupted’ casually many times along the way to ask for details or follow-up questions.”

“After each response, my interviewer continued to probe into how I felt and what I said and did. She went into much greater depth than my previous b-school interviewers had.”

Others offered insights into the content:

“I didn’t feel like there was a structure of my interviewers’ questions, which threw me off a little bit.”

“I was surprised, though, that he didn’t ask me any questions like ‘Why MBA?’ or ‘Why Stanford?’”

“Was mildly surprised that she was so strict about the time, and hadn’t asked some the typical questions like why MBA/Stanford/goals.”

“The interviewer was weaving in and out, from trying to get to know me to probing leadership examples/stories for him to get a sense of my leadership style and how I act in those roles.”

Have Your Résumé Handy

For those thinking about logistics, this candidate offered the following details:

“Stanford gives you the name and contact info to reach out and set up the interview directly, so you can research them a bit beforehand. You’re instructed to send the alum a copy of your résumé as well, which is all they have to go off of.”

While your interviewer should have your résumé ready to go, this candidate remarked on how it didn’t hurt to show up extra prepared:

“I emailed my interviewer my résumé beforehand per Stanford’s instructions. I also printed out a copy, which was much appreciated by my interviewer.”

A Common Takeaway: Be Yourself

Given the sea of red from Round 1 Stanford dings this season, if you received an invitation, you should view it as encouragement to show more of what you’ve already demonstrated in your application. The most common bit of advice from last year’s candidates came down to one thing (albeit one thing that may be easier said than done): Be yourself.

“Stanford is definitely looking for leaders and opportunity makers, so reflect back to all major leadership roles/tasks from your prior jobs and know them well before going into the interview. Be yourself for this one and don’t try to be what you think Stanford wants to hear! Authenticity is key.”

“Looking back, I would have been a little more relaxed and a little bit more myself. I think candidates probably roll their eyes when others tell them to ‘just be yourself’ when interviewing, but I think that definitely applies for Stanford interviews.”

“My advice: (1) Don’t over-prepare or over-package—these folks are wise and can sense dis-ingenuousness from a mile away. (2) Do spend a reasonable amount of time researching GSB’s unique offerings—this helped me begin and end the interview on a strong note. (3) Have fun! Think of the interview as a preview of the amazing conversations you’ll have with future GSB classmates.”

“Prep the high-level bullet points for the questions listed above and rehearse them once or twice in your head. You can answer the 50 extra questions if you want, but the alumni are not there to stump you. Don’t put too much pressure on the interview, don’t over-prepare, and have a casual conversation with a cool alumnus.”

Best of luck to those moving on in the admissions process at Stanford GSB! Keep us posted about your results on LiveWire, and be sure to submit your interview report so you can pay forward the help.

Clear Admit Resources
As you prepare for your Stanford GSB interview, we encourage you to consider all of Clear Admit’s offerings:

And if you’re also practicing for other schools’ interviews, don’t miss our latest tips from candidates for the Wharton School, MIT / Sloan, Yale School of Management, and Harvard Business School. As always, best of luck from all of us here at Clear Admit.

Lauren Wakal
Lauren Wakal has been covering the MBA admissions space for more than a decade, from in-depth business school profiles to weekly breaking news and more.