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Admissions Tip: Interviewing the Interviewer

In this MBA Admissions Tip, we highlight the importance of thinking about what you might ask when you’re interviewing. Virtually all business school interviewers conclude their discussion by offering the applicant a chance to ask some questions about the program. While it might be tempting to claim that you’ve already learned all you need to know about the school, this is actually a great opportunity to gain additional insight, show your enthusiasm about a specific element of the curriculum or community, and demonstrate that you appreciate the opportunity to learn from your interviewer’s experiences.

Here are a few simple guidelines to keep in mind while thinking about what you might ask:

Focus on the positive.  

Now is not the time to conduct due diligence or express skepticism about a school’s academic program or career resources.  You’re still marketing yourself to the adcom at this stage of the process, so you’ll want to project enthusiasm and demonstrate a desire to become more familiar with a program’s merits and your potential fit.

Avoid the obvious and the obscure.  

Because this is an opportunity to tap the interviewer’s unique knowledge and point of view (and he or she will assume that you did your basic research before applying), it’s best to avoid asking questions that could be answered by perusing the school’s website or speaking with anyone you might happen to encounter on campus.  On the other hand, you don’t want to ask something so obscure or specific that your interviewer might not have an answer.  Seeking the interviewer’s opinion on or impression of some element of the program often makes for a discussion that both parties will find interesting and enjoyable.

Mind your audience.  

Remember that students, alumni and admissions staff will all have a different perspective on and level of familiarity with the program, and that it’s wise to pose inquiries tailored to his or her experience with the school.  For instance, alumni interviewers generally feel strongly about their schools but might not have the most current information on the academic programs and campus culture, so a good question might focus on the classes they have found most useful in their post-graduation career.

Don’t overdo it!

While it may be tempting to develop a long list of questions for your interviewer and to pepper them with these queries in an effort to gain more information about your target school (or to merely extend the interview), we strongly encourage you to exercise caution here. Try preparing 2-3 questions in advance, and then, at the interview, think carefully about which question(s) make the most sense to ask in the context of the discussion.  In addition, we recommend that you remain mindful of your interviewer’s schedule and body language: Is there a room full of candidates waiting their turn outside?  Is your interviewer rushing off to catch flight to the next interview hub city?  Is your interviewer an alumnus with a busy schedule?  While it is always appropriate to ask at least one question when prompted, there may be cases where you might just leave it at that.  Of course, if you are having a wonderful discussion with an engaged interviewer who seems to be in no rush to move things along, you may ask more than just the one question.

We hope that these guidelines are helpful in thinking about how you might approach the end of your discussion and wish everyone interviewing at business schools in the coming weeks the best of luck! For more information about Clear Admit’s school-specific Interview Guides visit our shop and access immediate downloads of all the latest interview questions for your target school.