The interview questions Northwestern's Kellogg is asking this year

The Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University is one of the couple business schools in that it requests all applicants to schedule an interview. On-campus interviews will be conducted by an admissions officer or a current student, while off-campus interviews are usually conducted by alumni. For all interviews, the interviewer will have only read the resume submitted upon registration. Expect the interview to last 30-45 minutes.

The Chicago Skyline minutes away from Kellogg’s Campus

The Chicago Skyline minutes away from Kellogg’s Campus

Both on- and off-campus interviewers at Kellogg are not given a predetermined script, so applicants should be ready for a variety of questions to be asked. The level of rigor and engagement can also vary widely depending on who ends up conducting the interview. However, applicants should expect the interview to have a conversational feel, with the goal of getting to know the applicant more intimately.

Analysis of the questions this year:

Our analysis of the questions our clients have been asked by Kellogg indicate that in addition to the typical career transitions, Kellogg is very interested in understanding the specific leadership style of each candidate and what experiences have informed the formation of that style. Additionally, Kellogg is placing a greater emphasis on diversity and experience in leadership of diverse teams and wants to see a certain baseline of that experience in its applicants.

The specific questions Kellogg has already asked this year:

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  • Walk me through your resume.

  • Why did you choose your undergrad? Your major?

  • Tell me about which experience in your career you had the most impact.

  • Tell me about a time where you dealt with a team with a lot of diversity. What did you gain/learn? What challenges did you face.

  • How did you manage your junior team members? What did you learn as a manager?

  • What does leadership mean to you?

  • What are the specific traits that define a leader?

  • What are your strengths?

  • What are your long and short term goals?

  • Why MBA? Why Kellogg? Why now?

  • Tell me about your biggest concern or challenge you expect to face at Kellogg.

  • Kellogg is a diverse school. When have you interacted with people differently than you?

  • What is your leadership style? Why is it the way it is?

  • What role do you play within a team?

  • What specially do you hope to gain with your time at Kellogg?

  • Any questions for me?

The interview questions HBS is asking so far

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Perhaps the most feared and intimidating interview in MBA admissions is the one at Harvard Business School. That’s true for several reasons.

First, unlike student or alumni-led interviews, where the interviewer reviews your resume as you hand it to them, the HBS Admissions Committee comes dangerously prepared. The night before they carefully review each resume, looking for inconsistent themes, odd career transitions, vaguery to clear up, and anything they happen to find interesting. They then write up a list of pointed questions and prepare to deliver them rapid fire over the course of their 30 minutes with you.

Second, the entire time the interviewer and their scribe will be evaluating your communication skills to see if you’d crack under the pressure of the case classroom. They will want to see that you are able to clearly articulate your thoughts with logical structure and that your answers are persuasive. They will also probe to test the depth of your professional knowledge to see if you will be able to serve as an appropriate representative for your industry to the rest of your section.

Third, HBS’s admissions department is a well-oiled machine, and many find the incredible professionalism of its staff to be intimidating. There is a dedicated check-in center where Admissions Director Chad Losee can often be seek taking applicant’s coats. At the appointed time, an admissions staffer walks all the interviewees up to their “green room” to wait for their individual interviewers to be ready. Precisely at the appointed hour, the interview room doors open, and the names of each applicant are read out. Exactly 30 minutes later, the interviews end and the applicants are led back downstairs and on their way. For some, this is too much and we often receive reports that when clients visit the bathroom before and after the interviews, they can hear other applicants vomiting.

The questions HBS has already asked this year:

In general we are finding that HBS is much more interested in measuring each candidate’s industry knowledge and ability to represent their industry in section. We recommend that candidates prepare by researching the latest trends in their industry and be able to speak to the recent performance of their own company.

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  • Explain to me why you studied [foreign language on resume].

  • Explain how the [foreign language listed on resume] alphabet works.

  • Why did you study [undergraduate major]?

  • What is your criteria for turning down investments?

  • Compare and contrast [your sector] with [another adjacent sector].

  • Why did you choose to work abroad? Why that city?

  • Tell me about your most interesting consulting project.

  • What about your background led management to choose you for this project?

  • What are the challenges that the company you are working with right now is facing?

  • How have you tried to [solve problem mentioned in your application] through your professional work?

  • Tell me more about [the start-up you interned at]. What is the next big thing for it?

  • Which competitors should [start-up company] worry about? Do you think [company] will ever be profitable?

  • How would you evaluate [your undergraduate college’s] recent endowment investments in your industry?

  • What do you read, what news?

  • What do you do for fun?

  • Was your military service mandatory? If not, why did you do it?

  • Why do you want to move to [country]?

  • Evaluate the value of [your industry].

  • Is there anything else you wanted to talk about?

Style tips for nailing the MIT Sloan "Video Statement"

MIT Sloan is one of the top MBA programs in the country and has caused a decent amount of anxiety among its applicants for the Video Statement required in its application. The instructions are as follows:

Please introduce yourself to your future classmates via a brief 60 second video statement.  (This video will be used for application purposes only and will not be shared.) Videos should be a single take (no editing) lasting no more than one minute and consisting of you speaking directly to the camera. We recommend using an application such as QuickTime or iMovie to record yourself. 

Upload the video file according to the detailed instructions within the application.  We support the following file formats: .avi, .flv, .m1v, .m2v, .m4v, .mkv, .mov, .mpeg, .mpg, .mp4, .webm, .wmv

Should you experience difficulties uploading your file, please ensure that you're using a modern web browser (Chrome, Firefox, or Safari) on the fastest wired Internet connection available. An intermittent or slow Internet connection can cause uploads to timeout. 

So how can you ensure that you nail this submission, given that you only have one take? Take a page out of the political campaign manual and study how political candidates sit for TV interviews. Here are a few stylistic tips:



  1. Choose a plain background -- one in which no movement will occur. Ideally, your background would subtly connote a part of the personal narrative you will discuss in the video. 
  2. Raise your the camera up to eye level. You can do this by putting books under your laptop or using a portable camera. You don't want to be looking up or down at the camera.
  3. Make sure you have a soft light source aimed at your face (e.g. a lamp with a shade centered a couple feet behind your laptop). You don't want to be darkened or have sharp shadows over your body.


  1. Lose any Apple earbuds, but ensure that whatever microphone you have can clearly pick up your voice and no ambient noise.
  2. It's fine to use hand gestures. If you do, make sure that they are visible on camera; you might need to bring your hands up a little higher than feels normal to accomplish this. What is critical is that in between gestures, you return your hands to your "resting position". We have the research on what focus groups say the best resting positions are and coach our clients to execute them flawlessly.
  3. Don't sit in a swivel chair. If you must, make sure to keep both feet planted on the ground and resist the urge to swivel.


  1. Speak clearly by enunciating every syllable, and speak a little slower than you think is just too slow. You'll be amped-up and will naturally talk faster than you think. Practice inserting pauses between sentences and remember to wait a beat after you click record to ensure that the video will not cut off the beginning of your opening introduction.
  2. Write in short sentences. John F. Kennedy's Inaugural Address was written so that he could look down at his script, pick up six words at a time, and deliver them. This simplicity and clarity of his speech earned it rave reviews.
  3. Memorize the script and deliver it looking directly into the camera. This will feel awkward but it will help maintain connection with your viewer.  Maintain your gaze with the pinhole of the camera and don't break it except to blink. Practice this a few times in advance.

Use these tips and you should be able the make the most of your content by establishing an authentic connection with the viewer.

I Received an MBA Interview Invite...Now What?

Round 1 interview offers are starting to trickle out in the next few weeks. If you're one of the lucky applicants to get an offer to interview, how can you optimize the interview scheduling process?


1. Be ready to jump on the time you want

The interview sign-up portal usually opens day or so after you receive your interview invite email. Mark the day and exact time on your calendar! Most sign-ups are first come first serve, and your fellow applicants are fierce competitors for the best slot. Have a list of your preferred dates and times written out in rank order, so if your first choice is taken, you can quickly jump on your second choice. 

2. Know your long-range schedule ahead of time

The interviews usually run for a few weeks, so you have many dates to choose from. For most people Friday is the best day to interview, since you'll miss the least amount of work. Consider arriving the night before your interview so that you get plenty of time to settle in and relax. Map out how long it will take to get to the interview location. If you're there early enough the day before, consider visiting the interview location ahead of time so you know your route. The last thing you want to do is dash from the train station to your interview, arriving frazzled and not in peak condition.

3. Avoid interviews right before lunch, or at the end of the day

A study featured in the NYTimes showed that, "experienced parole judges in Israel granted freedom about 65% of the time to the first prisoner who appeared before them on a given day. By the end of a morning session, the chance of release had dropped almost to zero. After the same judge returned from a lunch break, the first prisoner once again had about a 65% chance at freedom. And once again the odds declined steadily."

What does this mean for you? Schedule your interview for early morning or early afternoon, when the interviewers are at their freshest. Mental capacity for decision-making can deteriorate throughout the day, and you want the interviewers to be in peak condition when they talk with you.

4. Don't put anything on your schedule right before the interview

You want to be at your best and any anxiety you may have about missing a connection or arriving late will likely impede your sleep, give you jitters, and hurt your verbal fluency. Plus you'll likely be thinking about little else than your interview earlier in the day. Do yourself a favor -- keep your calendar free before the interview. You can backload your day with meetings once all the pressure is off.

5. Consider MBA activities happening the rest of the day

Many schools have activities scheduled throughout the day for interviewees. For example, at HBS there are multiple opportunities to sit in on classes and various formal sessions led by the AdCom. If you've never visited the campus before, it may be worth spending the morning attending class or talking to students, so if anything relevant comes up you can sound like you know more about the school during your interview. Personally, I had visited campus before my interview and had a good understanding of the school's culture, so I much preferred doing the interview first thing in the morning and enjoying the rest of my day. Do whatever is best for you.

How to Ace the MBA Interview

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So you've submitted your application and now you finally have time to start thinking about interview prep. If you've applied to Harvard Business School you're anxiously awaiting the hear back from the Admissions Committee October 2nd and 5th to see if you received an interview invite. How can you best prepare for the interview?

1. Start now

Don't make the mistake of thinking that you should wait to see if you receive an interview invite before you start preparing. Sometimes the earliest turnaround between receiving an interview and the actual interview date is two weeks! Instead, use some of the downtime now to start preparing and rehearsing for the interview. Understand which kind of interview you will have (student, alumni, or Admissions Committee) and do you research on what to expect.

2. Know your application inside and out

Your entire application is fair game. The Admissions Committee may end up spending five minutes on one of the interests you listed on your resume, or the project you completed junior year of college. Make sure you can talk intelligently about what you did, what you learned, and what the impact was. More than anything, the Admissions Committee is going to want to know why. Why did you do what you did?

Interview + Reflection Package
from 650.00

You’ve been invited to interview – this is everything you need to have the knowledge and confidence required to succeed. We'll help figure out what the interviewer is going to ask you in the interview, send you a dossier full of custom questions, run through a video interview complete with feedback, and share best practices informed by our own interviewer experience and media training. Then -- we help you nail the post-interview reflection or follow-up email.

Add additional interviews $300 per school.

Number of Interviews:
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3. Be concise

What the Admissions Committee is really testing for is to see if you will be a good contributor to the case method in a classroom setting. Will you be able to clearly and concisely communicate your thoughts in a way that is easily understood by your fellow classmates? if you haven't practiced for the interview, you're more likely to start rambling and not getting to the point. Since the entire interview is only 30 minutes, it's to your best advantage to get across as much information about yourself in the time allotted.

4. Rehearse out loud

Continuing the theme of being concise, you won't really know how good your answers are until you practice them out out loud, preferably in front of a friend. Sometimes what we say in our head or have written down comes across poorly or stilted when we actually try to say it. Also, practicing out loud will make you feel more comfortable and relaxed the day of. Interviewing is a skill that can be practiced.

5. Film yourself

If you know your application inside and out, know what points you want to get across, and have rehearsed out loud, the next step is to film yourself. This process is unpleasant for most people, but is often where you can gain the most. Film yourself either conducting a mock interview with a friend, or just saying your answers into the camera. When you re-watch the film, pay attention to a few things -- how do you look? Nervous? Listen to your tone -- do you have up-speak? Do you sound confident? Are you fidgeting? What are you doing with your hands? When we're so focused on what we're saying, we often lose track of these things, but they can have a big impact on the impression you make on the interviewer.

How to Act Like a Leader

Now that the HBS Round 1 application deadline passed yesterday, the next step for MBA hopefuls is to prepare for the Admissions Committee interview. There are four kinds of interviews that elite MBA programs use: student (Chicago Booth), alumni (Stanford GSB), video (Kellogg), and Adcom (HBS). Adcom is by far the hardest since you'll be talking directly with a gatekeeper who has already reviewed your applications and will be coming after you with tailored questions to poke holes in your application. In these interviews more an others, presence is a major key.

Our recommendation would be to come off as approachable when you arrive to interview and maintain that demeanor up until the interview. Once you get into the interview room, we recommend an authoritative demeanor. In the lecture below out of Stanford GSB, Richard Cox discusses how to accomplish each.

Richard Cox Lecturer in Management Stanford Graduate School of Business


  • 5 S's for Authority: Slowness in speech, Stillness in head, Silent pauses in speech, Symmetry in posture, and Space (taking it up)
  • 5 F's for Approachability: Filling space, Fast movement, Folded body, Fidgeting, Flirting (inviting others to share space with them)
  • Observe yourself and see how you come across. Filming yourself and attending improvisational acting classes can be a huge help.
  • Think about making a pump-up play-list from your favorite super hero movie to get yourself ready to appear on stage the way you want to