Preparing for Your Online MBA Interview

A candidate interviewing across from an online MBA admissions team.

So you have decided to pursue an MBA program. You have narrowed down your top business school options, started your MBA admission applications, and are preparing for an admissions interview. Doing well in the business school interview with the admissions officer will set you in the right direction of obtaining an MBA degree and jump-starting your career.

However, you have also likely been searching terms like ‘common MBA interview questions’ and ‘MBA interview tips’ and keep coming up with reams of different questions that interviewers could ask you. Should you prepare a response to each one and risk sounding too rehearsed? What is the interview process really like, and how should you prepare for it?

While other business schools may use the admissions interview to interrogate and shoot rapid-fire questions at a candidate, SMU Cox prides itself on using a personal touch and treating the interview with the candidate as more of a conversation. The SMU Cox admissions team wants to get to know you and work with you to determine if the Online MBA or MBA Direct for Early Career Professionals will help you meet your personal career goals.

Your SMU Cox MBA Interview Preparation: What to Know

Before you start to prepare for the Cox MBA interview, you will fill out an MBA admissions application. If you are a good fit for the program, SMU Cox will invite you to interview. This means you can feel a bit more relaxed, knowing that if you made it to the interview round, the admissions committee saw something in the application that piqued their interest.

Interview preparation should involve rehearsing mock interviews with a friend or someone else you trust. You should have them ask you any interview questions you anticipate may come up, practice having a conversation with them and naturally answering these questions.

You should not rehearse stock answers that you think the interviewers want to hear. Individuality will shine in these interviews, and you’ll want to stand out from the other interviewees to give you leverage.

“When candidates sound too rehearsed, I feel like they are not really having an honest conversation with the admission committee about what their needs are, what their strengths are, what the opportunities are,” said Beth Wierzbicki, Associate Director of Admissions.

SMU Cox MBA admissions interviewers say the candidates should not feel pressured to say what they think is the right answer, but rather to be honest and candid. The interviewers also want candidates to take the interview seriously and treat it as a professional job interview, so dress smart and find a quiet spot to take the call, be authentic, honest, and transparent so the business school can get to know you.

Basic MBA Interview Structure

“Our goal is to get to know the candidate. We always tell people we want this to be a good fit from both sides,” said Wierzbicki. “Our goal is never to trick someone or make them feel uncomfortable. What we are trying to do is figure out if they will be successful in the classroom.”

The SMU Cox interviewer will ask some general questions to get to know you, ranging from asking about your background, short-term and long-term goals, and why you want to obtain an MBA. These questions will be different in each interview and will flow naturally depending on your answers as a natural conversation would.

The interview will then move on to questions that will give the interviewer a sense of your likelihood of classroom success. The candidate must be self-motivated. “We talk a lot about initiative: in an online program, you’ll get out of it what you put into it,” said Hannah Nousain, Associate Director of Admissions. “We want people who aren’t just going to turn on their screens and be working on the side, we want them to be engaged.”

To gauge how engaged you will be, the interviewer may ask you how you behaved in a similar situation to the Online MBA environment. After background questions, the interview will likely move onto behavioral questions.

The interviewer will ask you about leadership, and times when you have been a leader and the outcomes in that situation. On the other end of the scale, there will also be questions about teamwork, and again, you will be asked to give examples of times you were on a team and how you resolved any conflict that arose.

Throughout the interview process, candidates should be prepared to discuss the essay questions answered in the MBA admissions application submitted before the interview.

For example, the application asks the candidate to list three words a professional colleague would use to describe them, and three words a close friend would use.

“Your personal attributes are just as important and critical in terms of what you bring to the table as your professional strengths,” said Nousain. “That is what builds that sense of comradery, community, and collaboration in the classroom. This is really important to the SMU Cox program and what we want to foster and nurture.”

The interviewer will leave time for questions from you, and you should take advantage of this by demonstrating how much you know about the business school through your research. The admissions committee wants to determine if you understand what SMU Cox is about and how the business school differentiates itself from other programs.

“If someone says they don’t have questions, it is not the best indicator that they have researched our program, or will be engaged during class,” Nousain said.

Keep it Conversational and Professional

The interviewers will usually have established some sort of connection with the candidate by the time the interview goes ahead. The interview is an opportunity for the admissions committee to solidify the relationship.

“We want the candidate to be prepared, to feel confident in the interview. That preparedness will result in a stronger interview experience which will help them in that last component of the application process,” Wierzbicki said.

SMU Cox wants candidates to be especially open about their priorities and goals. This openness allows the admissions committee to assess if the Online MBA aligns with what you hope to achieve.

What Makes SMU Cox Stand Out

The Online MBA program at SMU Cox is one of the top MBA programs in the United States. It offers all the same benefits and carries the same prestige as any on-campus program. However, it gives students the flexibility to complete the course from anywhere in the world.

Online MBA graduates do not have to give up their job or relocate to earn an MBA. The program takes place over two and a half years and requires the same academic conscientiousness as an on-campus program. The class sizes are small, between 15 and 20, and each student will receive one-to-one support from faculty members.

The curriculum centers around three Foundational Pillars; leadership, analytics, and experiential learning. It is designed to set graduates up with the hard and soft skills needed for the workplace of the future.

A good candidate for the SMU Cox Online MBA program would typically be someone who has at least three years of work experience. Someone who is looking for a way to provide him or herself with a competitive edge when returning to the office. It is someone who needs the flexibility of an online MBA program, so other aspects of their life can continue as normal. Many of SMU Cox’s students are not Texas locals; one of the recent cohorts had 14 states represented in the class.

Finally, a typical Online MBA candidate has good communication skills and has a proven leadership track record with actionable results.

Interview at SMU Cox Today

SMU Cox wants to get to know Online MBA and MBA Direct candidates authentically. The admissions committee will not attempt to trip-up candidates with trick questions. SMU Cox uses the interview to make certain a candidate is a good fit for their online programs, and vice-versa.

To reiterate, the best way to prepare for an admissions interview at SMU Cox is to thoughtfully consider your experiences and the best way to frame them as strengths within commonly asked interview questions. Don’t memorize boilerplate answers, but learn to inject your own story into how you would answer them. Always have your career goals in mind and how SMU Cox will help get you there. Most importantly, remember to be professional and genuine throughout the interview process to maximize your admission chances.

Start an application today and apply to the SMU Cox School of Business online MBA programs.