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Oxford MBA Career Questions

August 4, 2018

If you have starting to prepare your application to Oxford’s MBA program, you might have only seen the two essay questions that are on the application website. However, within the application there are several other questions under the career development section. I wanted to take the time to discuss these questions because they are very important to the application and require a significant amount of thought and preparation.

 

Within the application, there is a career development section, where you will be asked to choose the option most closely aligned with your short-term career goals: employment, entrepreneurship, or other (including family business). When it comes to career goals, having a clearly defined post-MBA goal is crucial to your application. Your post-MBA goal should be realistic given your past experience. Given that the Oxford MBA is only one year long, the admissions committee wants to see that you have already begun taking tangible steps toward achieving your goals.

 

Employment Questions

 

  • Describe your immediate plan after graduating from the MBA.

  • How does your preferred sector in your preferred location recruit MBA talent and what do they look for in a candidate? Describe the research that you have done so far.

  • Reflecting on your answer above, how do you meet these requirements?

  • What do you plan to do between now and starting your MBA to prepare and maximize your chances of success?

  • Should you not be successful in securing your first choice of role, what is your alternative?

 

I would expect that the majority of applicants will be answering this set of questions as most people choose to study for an MBA to facilitate a career change.

 

When it comes to an MBA application, admissions committees are most nervous about people who want to complete a triple jump. A triple jump is a change in role, a change in industry, and a change in location. It is not to say that someone cannot accomplish a triple jump following a one-year MBA program, in fact, many people successfully do so. For the purposes of the application, I would advise against a post-MBA goal that fits the criteria of a triple jump.


The questions in this section are meant to draw definitive connections between your past experience and your goals. Specificity is the key as you are answering these questions. For instance, you should be very clear about the research that you have done into your preferred sector’s method of recruitment. Naming contacts that you have or recruitment events that you are aware of will make your answers stronger. Demonstrating that you have clear knowledge about recruitment early on means that you have a head start on your job search and a stronger chance of finding a job than someone who can only generally answer this question.

 

In asking ‘how will you meet these requirements?’, you should be able to share the hard and soft skills that you already possess that are relevant to your target role. Think about this question as if you were meeting a recruiter and pitching yourself for a position that you were interested in applying to. What would you say to sell yourself? Also make sure to go beyond what is written on your resume and share new insights into your qualifications. The person evaluating your profile will have already read your resume, this section should not be a regurgitation of that information.

 

In answering how you will maximize your chance of success, this is another section where self-awareness is necessary. Are there gaps in your skill set that you can address before the MBA? Do you have a network in place in your target industry? Are there other weaknesses in your profile that you need to address? Getting an MBA does not start when you enter Said Business School, there is a lot of time and preparation required before you arrive at Oxford. You should be able to share concrete details about the effort that you will make today and tomorrow to secure your post-MBA role.

 

Entrepreneurship Questions

 

  • Describe your business idea including the details of your business plan and the steps you have taken so far to develop or launch your business idea.

  • How will the MBA help you start, or further develop, your own business?

  • What do you plan to do between now and starting your MBA to prepare and maximize your chances of success?

  • Should you not be successful in developing or launching your business, what is your alternative?

 

Many people who study for an MBA degree have a vague idea of entrepreneurship as a post-MBA goal. You do not want to approach this question with ambiguity. Similar to answering the employment questions, providing details and precise insights into your plans should be your focus here. Think about these questions as if you were pitching your idea to a potential investor. You need to be confident and able to convince the reader that your business plan is sound. I would not recommend answering this question if you only have vague thoughts about a business idea. If entrepreneurship is your goal and you are serious about your business, then you will have likely started a business plan and begun completing your research well before sitting down to begin this application.

 

You will want to demonstrate how the MBA degree fits into your business plan and have a clear picture what you will gain from the program. What experiences, knowledge, or skills will you gain from an MBA that will advance your business? Why is an MBA necessary for you to be able to achieve your goals? You should be very convincing in your answers and clearly convey how this degree is the right next step for you.

 

Other (including family business)

 

  • Describe your plan after graduating from the MBA

  • How does the MBA fit in your plans and how will it enhance your short-term direction?

  • How will you develop your career goals before starting your MBA?

  • What research have you already conducted? What further research will you do?

  • How will the MBA help equip you for the future?

 

Unless you are planning to join or return to a family business, I do not recommend choosing this option in the career section. Even though your goal may change over the course of the MBA program, having a clearly defined post-MBA goal is a hallmark of an MBA application. Navigating this section and these questions without a post-MBA goal is far too risky and is likely to hurt your application.

 

At Oriel Admissions, we have helped applicants to gain entry to top business schools across the world. If you would like to know more about our services and how the Oriel team can help you with your applications, please contact Rona at rona@orieladmissions.com for a free consultation.

 

 

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