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Bringing your ‘best self’ to the table at the MBA interview

As we cross the mid-way point in this year’s MBA admissions cycle, we ask our MBA Admission Team for some tips on how to bring your ‘best self’ to the Cambridge MBA Interview Day, if you are invited.

Female MBA candidate introducing herself to others on an MBA interview day.

The Cambridge MBA interview process is, for many, a daunting prospect and for our MBA Admissions Team a vitally important part of the process of building the MBA class profile. The whole process is designed to allow us to get to know you well, from the initial essay questions through to the personal interview time with a member of Cambridge Judge Business School (CJBS) faculty.

Srishti Warman, MBA 2019 from India, describes her personal experience of applying in Round 1;

“I requested an interview on video by Skype. While it’s obvious to feel nervous before an interview, I don’t think I had ever been so anxious before. My interviewer was a faculty member teaching at CJBS and the warmth in their tone made me feel relaxed immediately. From all the business school interviews that I had ever given; in no other interview did I feel so supported by the interviewer to give the answers that I felt and knew were right. I knew then it was a clear reflection of what it would be like to study at Cambridge”.

The Cambridge MBA interview framework

Cambridge Judge faculty work closely with the MBA Admission Team to ensure there is a wide framework and context for the 30-minute interview. Wrapped around the scheduled interview itself is a day and an evening that offers candidates a taste of the whole Cambridge MBA experience. The evening before the interview, we invite candidates to a formal dinner at one of the University’s 31 Colleges. Candidates have a chance to get to know each other, meet current students and the MBA Admissions Team in a relaxed atmosphere and, most importantly, to start to develop their own ‘Cambridge network’.

The following morning at the Business School consists of the one-to-one interview, alongside a presentation from the Head of MBA Admissions and Careers. Candidates then meet a Careers Consultant in smaller groups to discuss their own future careers plans and ideas, and how the Cambridge MBA would support these goals.

“Our advice is to be honest and open about yourself and your future goals. Your choice of business school is a big decision and your success will depend on the support of those around you”, says Diana Mendonca Ajuz, of the MBA Admissions team.

What makes you unique among a potential MBA cohort of 200 plus?

The Cambridge MBA interview day also offers the perfect opportunity for candidates to step out from the crowd and really shine. What makes your background and sector experience of interest for both the Cambridge MBA, but also future employers? What kind of person are you? Are you equipped with the skills, as well as the personality and strengths, to embrace the learning experience over an intense one-year programme? Have you got the resilience to manage your time, as well as your career goals, with the many competing opportunities and challenges that will come your way before, during and after your Cambridge MBA year?

Charlotte Russell-Green.
Charlotte Russell-Green

Charlotte Russell-Green, Head of MBA Recruitment & Admissions says: “Choosing a school which is right for you is a very personal decision. And it’s important that you pick one which is a right fit, as it is a significant investment of time and money”. She continues; “How did the interview day and the personal time with faculty feel? Can you see yourself at the Business School every day for a good part of the coming year ahead? Can you see yourself sitting side-by-side with your future classmates, some of which you will meet and start to get to know on the MBA interview day?”

Current Forté Foundation scholar, Sarah Lester, MBA 2019 from Australia, explains:

“I was steadfast in my decision to study at Cambridge following the interview weekend. I did not expect to be as impressed with every single aspect of the Business School, the city, and the programme as I was. Every corner of Cambridge inspired me, the curriculum excited me, and importantly, all my potential future classmates were so incredibly friendly and supportive. I came away feeling like I had found the place that I belonged”.

Seeing for yourself what Cambridge is like

The Cambridge MBA interview process is two-way: as well as being assessed yourself, you get the chance to ask your questions directly to MBA Admissions and Recruitment staff, to learn what faculty are really like, their style of teaching or way of thinking. You get an insight into a typical day at the Cambridge Judge, as well as visiting the Business School and the City of Cambridge for yourself. After an informal lunch in a typical student dining hall, we offer candidates a walking tour across the City of Cambridge, where the history and the secrets of the city are revealed. A highlight for many at this point of the day, as the formalities are complete, and candidates get to see a little bit more of the city they will be calling ‘home’ for their MBA year.

Kwesi Bonso-Abban, MBA 2019, from Ghana, described it as:

“My Cambridge MBA year…. means a lot of networking with people that I probably wouldn’t have had an opportunity to network with hitherto. It means an opportunity to explore myself fully and find new opportunities to grow. Cambridge offers an opportunity to find a new family“.

Cambridge offers an opportunity to find a new family.

Kwesi Bonso-Abban, MBA 2019

When it comes to bringing your ‘best self’ to the Cambridge MBA interview day; be your true self, be authentic, ask questions, be curious and most of all, demonstrate your willingness to learn. Show that you are open to learning, from not only the faculty, but your classmates as well. Also be ready and open to the learning and opportunities that the wider University of Cambridge environment offers, for your MBA year ahead.