Oxford recently released their application questions for the 2019-2020 cycle. The primary essay is now gone and it has been replaced with an online assessment. Including an online assessment with a written component is unique in the world of MBA applications. It suggests that the admissions committee is interested in the way that prospective candidates communicate and share their ideas as they might in a conversation, an interview, or in the classroom.
In addition to the online assessment, Oxford’s applications still has written components including the supporting statement and the career related questions.
The career related questions are located within the application portal and should be treated as important standalone essays. For advice about completing these questions, see my blog post here.
The supporting statement is the essay where you have the opportunity to share additional information about yourself which may not be covered in the application. For advice about this statement, see my blog post here.
The online assessment consists of five components. Four of the components are spoken while one is written. There are two motivational questions that are the same for everyone.
Why do you want to study for an MBA?
I recommend sharing two or three reasons to answer this question. Your answer should specify what you want to achieve out of the MBA. You can think about the skills that you are lacking, the knowledge that you would like to gain, and the experiences that will make you a better suited to pursue your goals. Your reasons should relate to your post-MBA career goals so that once you complete your MBA and achieve what you set out to achieve during the program, you will be able in a position to move forward in your career.
Why is the Oxford MBA program right for you?
This is the area of your application to show the research that you have done into Oxford’s MBA program. You will want to highlight the elements of the program that are most interesting to you and how you will take advantage of them. Be as specific as possible. Name people that you have spoken to or events that you have attended as part of your research. Mention classes that you want to take or other activities that you want to participate in. Do not forget to connect your answers to your interests and goals. Include why you are mentioning a certain component of the program. Two or three responses are also the right number here, depending on your pace when answering this question.
The two competency based questions will be randomized. The only guidance that is given is that they will test for skills that the program looks for including decision making, problem-solving influence, leadership, and strong communication skills. Based on this guidance, I would expect to receive behavioral interview type questions here. To prepare, I recommend identifying two or three stories that can be used to highlight the four characteristics mentioned above. You should be very comfortable in telling your stories so that you can quickly adapt them depending on the questions. When answering, it is best to use the STAR (situation-task-action-result) interview method. This method provides a clear structure to the response and will help the listener to follow your reply. You should also emphasize the results in your story. It is the way for you to clearly show the impact of your work.
The written response will be randomized. The business school has only shared that it will be light hearted to show how you think on your feet. Since you can not anticipate the question, it is difficult to answer. I suggest taking a list of questions, drawing from them randomly, and writing a response within a limited time.
You can try this exercise with the following list of questions or similar questions.
-Describe the most interesting place that you have travelled to. What did you enjoy most about the experience?
-If you could love any where in the world, where would it be and why?
-If you had an extra hour of the day, what would you do with it?
-What is the best book you have read and why?
-What is your proudest accomplishment and why?
-What word best describes you and why?
-What is the best of piece of advice you have received and why?
-If you could teach a class on any topic, what would it be and why?
There are also general things to remember.
Dress professionally. Men should wear a suit and tie. Women should wear a business appropriate dress or a blazer.
Record your video in a well-lit area with a clear background. Avoid sitting in front of a mirror, photos, a window where objects might be reflected on camera, or a dark wall. Make sure you are recording in a quiet location without any possibility of interruption.
Practice, practice, practice before completing the assessment! Speak in front of a mirror to yourself, rehearse your answers with a trusted friend or an admissions consultant. This is the first time that Said is including a video component to their application. It is likely that they are seeing a disconnect between their candidates’ written applications with their personality and communication skills during the interview process. You need to come across as professional, confident, and enthusiastic. This component is an important method for assessing candidates and it will formulate the admissions committee’s first impression of you. Make sure to take it seriously and do not leave your preparations to the last minute.
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 their business school applications. If you would like to know more about my services and how I can help you with your application, please contact Rona at firstname.lastname@example.org.