If you have been invited to interview for Oxford’s EMBA program, congratulations! Oxford’s EMBA program is consistently ranked as one of the top EMBA programs in the world, making it a very competitive program.
As you prepare for your interview, remember that the interview is there to assess your fit to the EMBA cohort. There is a reason that business schools require interviews for the MBA and EMBA programs. While your resume and application may be impressive, your character, professionalism, and career potential must also be a match for the school. With that in mind, I wanted to share some suggestions for preparing for your interview.
Any business school interview comprises of three critical pillars that share a lot of information about the applicant.
1. Why do you want to study at Oxford?
2. What do you hope to gain from the EMBA program?
3. What are your post-EMBA goals?
You should be extremely confident in your answers to these three questions. Your answers explain a lot about you and who you are as a candidate. As you formulate and practice your answers, I recommend having three speaking points to answer each question. Why three you might wonder? In my experience of working with hundreds of applicants, three is the right number to show that you have thought through the question and that you have strong reasons behind your actions. Three is also the best number in terms of orally answering the question. You will fill the right amount of time with your response. If you have trouble thinking of three points, two can work as long as you elaborate on them.
Why do you want to study at Oxford?
In answering this question, make sure that you have done your research into the program. This is the place within the interview to be very specific and to impress your interviewer with how well you know their curriculum. You should know as much information about the program as you can; this would require you to review the program website, read EMBA blog posts, and even speak to current or recently graduated students. Try to identify the different aspects about the program that are appealing to you and link how you will use them to advance your goals.
What do you hope to gain from the EMBA program?
This question is about you and your goals. You need to have identified different areas of improvement that will allow you to grow in your career. While mentioning specifics about the Oxford EMBA is possible within your answer, a lot of applicants make the mistake of using responses that would be better suited to answer ‘Why do you want to study at Oxford?’.
Instead, think of this question as getting at the high-level motivations behind your educational choices. Pursuing an EMBA is a major commitment: it is expensive, it requires travel, studying, and sacrificing time with your family. The fact that you want to get this degree means that you see room for improvement and gaps in your knowledge. I would identify those areas in your personal and professional development and share them here.
What are your post-EMBA goals?
This is an important question because your goals need to be attainable. If you are unrealistic in your goals then the program is not likely to benefit you and this will hurt your chances of admission. Given that you are interviewing for executive level education, you are most likely fairly advanced in your career and typically the best answer will be a goal related to career progression while on your specific career path. Unlike MBA candidates, EMBA candidates have more years of experience and cannot make a drastic career change at this point in their lives. The exception is entrepreneurship and exploring a business venture.
With any EMBA interview, I recommend giving additional focus to preparing for leadership-based questions. You will be expected to be at a more advanced place in your career and to have had leadership experience. Make sure that you have several stories rehearsed that could answer behavioral questions about your leadership qualities. You should also be able to identify good and bad leadership qualities, from your point of view, and speak more generally about leadership. Some questions that you can expect here are the following.
What is your leadership style?
How do you motivate others?
Tell me about a leadership experience.
Tell me about a good leader that you have worked with. What made him a good leader?
What have you learned from good leaders?
Tell me about a bad leader. What would you have done differently if you were in the shoes of the bad leader?
How do people respond to your leadership?
Tell me about a project that you led? What challenges did you face? What was the result?
Tell me about a project that you initiated. What did you do? What was the outcome?
Tell me about a time when you took the lead on a difficult project? What was the outcome?
Tell me about a time when you had to delegate tasks during a project.
The key to a strong interview performance is confidence and a lot of practice. Be well-prepared and make sure to practice speaking your answers out loud and ideally with a trusted advisor.
Rona Aydin is a graduate of Oxford Said's MBA program. She has in-depth knowledge of Oxford Said and she has helped many clients to successfully prepare for their business school interviews. If you would like to know more about my services and how I can help you with your interview, please contact Rona at firstname.lastname@example.org.