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Stanford GSB MBA Interview Questions & Report: Round 1 / Alum / Off-Campus

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Interview was blind and conducted with an alumnus off campus. Stanford admissions was very flexible with scheduling; when I received my invite to interview, I was required to submit my current location and given a 10-14 day interview window. However, due to military training I had to put multiple locations by date. The admissions director linked me up with an alumnus (State President for Fortune 500 Company) that happened to be in my training location, but said not to worry too much about the 10 day window and that Stanford Admissions could also arrange a different alumnus or even a Skype/slack conference as a worst case option. Otherwise I completed the scheduling process directly with the interviewer and his secretary. Overall thoughts on this: I was extremely grateful for the flexibility and various options to interview. For someone in the military, with a demanding corporate job, or someone facing economic hardships (other schools expect candidates to pay for airfare), the GSB system is hard to beat.

For the actual interview, I emailed the alumnus a resume and brought a hard copy, but otherwise he did not have access to my application. He explained the blind interview process and how he would have 48 hours to essentially write a letter of recommendation based on the interview, which is added to my file and weighted according to admissions discretion.

He asked why I am interested in Stanford/MBA but primarily asked one question around which all follow-up revolved: what achievement am I most proud of. There was quite a bit of back and forth as I had to clarify military concepts (expect interruptions and probing questions as other reports state), but overall I got the sense that the interviewer simply wanted to ensure he could best articulate and advocate for me to admissions. He actually explicitly stated this. I did not get asked a ton of behavioral questions, but mainly about my achievement, what criteria or measurable results led me to selection for various roles, how I have led teams or handled leadership challenges, etc. Few if any questions were specific, so ultimately the floor was mine to tell my story and elaborate on talking points that would best support his letter of reference. A few times I just shared additional stories or experiences when there was a pause, which I would strongly recommend if done tactfully. I got the sense that he was very okay with this and almost preferred it over a “question and answer” construct. He took copious notes the entire time. The last 10-15 minutes were reserved for me to ask questions, and I had several prepared ahead of time.. some of which were a reflection of research I did on the school and even my interviewer on LinkedIn (all things I recommend).

Overall the interview was very conservational and pleasant. Best advice is to help the interviewer help you by taking some ownership of the interview. If you didn’t answer something completely clearly or they don’t seem satisfied, simply ask if you can clarify or elaborate. Even if it’s several questions or minutes later. I am sure much of this depends on the specific alumnus, which I appreciate about the interview process: much of the experience is a test of emotional intelligence and ability to form a positive interaction. Otherwise there were few if any surprises based on my expectations from reading other interview reports.

I have not received a decision yet regarding my acceptance, but all decisions are released on a specific date each round, which in my case ended up being exactly one month after my interview.

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