“Why MBA” Interview Question & Tips To Answer It
Depending on the way you look at it, “Why MBA” can be a highly technical or philosophical question!
This is a seriously tricky question. There can be no right or wrong answer, because after all, this is a subjective question. Yet, somehow, you’re expected to give an answer that appeals to the AdComs.
This profoundly philosophical question is so complicated that people fail to find answers even after getting an MBA. To find the answer, firstly, let’s look at what an MBA helps you achieve. An MBA is, at best, a “general management” program. It is not a specialization even if you choose to take up some electives during the second year. In short, an MBA makes you a ‘generalist’.
If you get your MBA from a top school, it adds a lot of weight to your credentials and it gives you a fantastic opportunity to develop a global professional network. For example, someone from IIM-A need not prove himself as hard as someone from ABC Management School. An MBA from a top institute instantly grants you the credibility that takes any average MBA graduate years of hard work to earn.
Quite often, people tend to go in for MBAs because of two reasons: they hate their current jobs or they want to make more money. Most times, it’s a combination of both. In any case, you can’t put any of this in a statement of purpose for MBA. Honestly speaking, you shouldn’t really opt for an MBA for such superficial reasons, either.
You need more grounded, well-thought-out reasons, like these mentioned below. There can be many more reasons that may prompt people to pursue an MBA. Generally, if you think about it enough, it tends to boil down to one of these reasons.
After you have figured out in your head why you want to do an MBA, you need to get down to writing your statement of purpose for MBA. Invariably, you will encounter one variant or another of the question, “Why MBA?” in your MBA Application essays.
How to Answer the “Why MBA” Question
1. Identify Your Reason
The most important part of writing the SOP for MBA is having a clear picture. Before you go about explaining your reasons to an AdCom, you need to know for yourself why you want to go for an MBA.
Forget all the reasons to do an MBA that we have listed before. You need to think of your own reason independently. Once you find your reason, write it down in a single sentence and really think about it. Ask yourself: is this really why I want to do an MBA? Is there any other way I can resolve my problem instead of doing an MBA? Why don’t I try other alternatives, why is an MBA my choice?
The thing is, nothing can replace actual conviction in an MBA Statement of Purpose. AdComs go through thousands of SOPs every year – they can sniff it out if you are not being sincere in your SOP. You can only sound sincere if you’re being honest with yourself. That’s why it is important to take this step quite seriously and think about all the possibilities. Simply knowing the answer is not enough. You need to be sure that opting for an MBA is your solution of choice and you need to know why you think it is your best option.
2. List Out Relevant Work Experience
Once you have figured out why you want to pursue MBA, proceed to go through your CV and make a list of all the factors that support your decision to do an MBA. Make it a point to think about everything you’ve left out of your CV, too. You may have left some experience out of your CV, especially if it is irrelevant to your present job profile. For example, if you were the captain of your college football team, you may not have included that in your CV for a software development position. However, that stint as captain highlights your leadership skill – an important trait in an MBA candidate!
Enlist all such experiences that you can think of – whether they’re in your CV or not – which can strengthen your profile as an MBA aspirant.
3. Decide Which Skills You Want To Highlight
You may notice that the picture has already started to become clear by the time you finish the first two steps. Now, assemble your experience and reasons to do an MBA in bullet points and on paper, in front of you.
When you can see your purpose and experience laid out before your eyes, it gets easier to figure out which of your skills are relevant to the point you want to make. Go ahead and take a call on which of your skills you want the AdComs to focus on.
For example, let’s assume you have led your college’s debate team to victory in a few competitions, been the captain of your football team, and earned a few accolades in theatre and painting. All of these achievements demonstrate your skills, but your debate and leadership skills are more relevant to your MBA application than your thespian and fine art skills. Accordingly, select the experiences and qualifications you will elaborate on to demonstrate the skills most relevant to your MBA application.
4. Draw Up A Skeleton
So you have all your raw material ready: skills, experience, achievements, what have you – basically everything you’re going to need. Now, we move to the tougher part – the actual answer to the “Why MBA” question.
Arrange the bullet points in the order in which you want to talk about them. Your instinct will most probably be to arrange everything in chronological order, but we’d suggest that you reconsider this. You could instead sort your achievements and experience by skill. Let us explain with an example.
You could narrate the story of your life, so to speak, by starting with everything you did in college followed by your work-related achievements and personal development activities. That would follow a chronological order, as per your CV. Or, you could try this – begin each paragraph by stating that you possess a certain skill, say you are a good and experienced leader. Then go on to describe achievements and experiences that demonstrate your ability as a leader, and that can go in a chronological order. For example, you can say, “I did (A) while I was in college, then went on to achieve (B) within the first year of my first job, (C) during the second year,” and so on.
5. Flesh It Out, Edit & Finalize
Once you have your essay skeleton in place, you can start writing out the details that will add mass to it. The most important thing to remember here is that it is very easy to get carried away. You could get caught up in the flow or the emotion and end up writing 3,000 words of which 2,500 have nothing to do with the skeleton.
Go in assuming that this process is going to consist of multiple rounds of editing your work. All you need to do is ensure you stick to the structure and follow the flow you’ve decided upon. If you don’t do this, you’ll likely end up wasting a lot more time than necessary on this. No matter how long your initial draft ends up being, the next step is to edit it and ensure that it comes as close to the word limit as possible. Ideally, try to keep it within 5-6 words short of the limit – unless you can write exactly as many words as you’re allowed to.
Many applicants assume that it’s a good idea to write far fewer words than the given word limit. This is a bad idea. Your MBA essay is the only way an AdCom gets to know you before they meet you. Take advantage of everything you have at your disposal to make the best impression possible. Eliminate unnecessary detail, to be sure, but don’t overdo it. You essay shouldn’t look like a list of aims and achievements, it should have a human element to it.
Now, end your essay on a high note. Write about your hopes and aspirations, and add a touch of humility, showing your respect for the school you’re applying to.
If you follow these steps properly, you should end up with a rather fantastic answer to the “Why MBA’ question!
Best of luck!
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