We heard that you got an invitation to interview from Stanford. Congratulations! Although the interview is optional for applicants, you must know that you are among the lucky ones to be given the opportunity because only 13% are given a chance. We have compiled 25 questions and answers to help you prepare for the interview.
1. What Is The Greatest Advice You Have Ever Received?
The most remarkable advice I have ever received was from my mother. Her advice was short but very meaningful. She said, “read; a lot.” That’s it. Although the advice was straightforward, it has stayed with me forever because I understand that what makes me different in another five years compared to what I am now is the quality of books that I read. Reading gives us access to great minds and ideas, and it is worth learning from them.
2. Why Do You Need An MBA?
I have a list of reasons why I need an MBA. One of them is I want to future-ready my career. Nowadays, many companies are looking for candidates with a suitable skill set. Leadership, management, managing goals, and stakeholders can be the skills set. The following reason is that I do not want to be stuck doing the same thing. By having an MBA, I can explore new industries and gain new experiences that can make me grow as an individual.
3. Why A Stanford MBA?
Stanford is among the best business schools with top-ranked MBA programs in the US. Stanford also emphasizes creativity, innovation, and collaboration, which makes it no surprise that students from Stanford are super bright and produce great ideas on how they want to change the industry. Those are the reason why I want to get an MBA from Stanford so that I can be the best in the industry.
4. What Are Your Long Term And Short Term Goals?
My short-term goal is to use my MBA as a stepping stone in my career. With the knowledge that I gain after completing my MBA study, I wish to place myself as an analyst for ABC bank. My long-term plan, maybe in another ten years, I would like to collaborate with banks by developing and launching a system for financial services.
5. Apart From MBA, What Other Programs Did You Apply To?
Apart from MBA, I did apply for a Master in Management (MIM). I applied Master in Management because if I did not get accepted into an MBA program, I could do a MIM first; although MIM is a very young program with little experience, I know that I will also gain something from it. I also enrolled myself in a Project Management Professional Certification (PMP).
6. How Do You Handle Someone Who Pointed Out Your Weakness?
Firstly, I will take the input from the other person open-heartedly and take it positively. I know I have my flaws, too; maybe what he highlighted was the one I never realized before. Therefore, I will thank him, and I will take action so that I can improve myself.
7. Can You Share One Of The Most Valuable Pieces Of Feedback You Have Ever Received?
Three years back, I was given the task of presenting my project in our Attleboro headquarters in front of the Chief Financial Officer and Chief Marketing and Sales Officer. I represented the Holland branch, and I needed to compete with other branches to get a budget allocation. The competition was very fierce, and I can still remember that I had sweaty palms when presenting. I presented the best that I could and went back to Holland. A few days later, I received a call from my boss, and with his cheerful voice, he said, “You know what, the CMO was impressed with you, and he even said that he wanted you to work for him in the US office. See, I told you, you can do it.” I smiled for a week. On that day, I knew that I should believe in myself.
8. How Do You Handle Someone Difficult To Work With?
We will definitely have to work with someone that is difficult at some point in our career. I have my own experience handling these kinds of people, and I have a few ways to deal with them, which are:
- Learn to look at their perspective. It might be difficult for me to accept at first because I deserved to be treated with respect, but sometimes looking from their perspective will make me understand more about them and why they have that kind of thinking.
- I will also limit my interaction with these people. When limiting my interaction with them, I can eliminate and avoid unnecessary conflict.
- Lastly, I will walk away. I knew my trigger point very well. Therefore, if I almost reach my trigger point, I will walk away to avoid any fights.
9. What Inspires You?
What inspires me the most is my goals. From the start, I knew why I wanted to be in this industry and chose this as my career. I have a lot of wants that I want to achieve, such as living a comfortable life and being able to help my parents financially. I know that to achieve my dreams and goals, I need to work very hard so that I can be more than just mediocre and be the best in my field.
10. Do You Have Experience Leading A Team?
Yes, of course, I have experience leading teams. For example, in my current position as a project manager, I lead a cross-functional team in my projects. My team consists of 10 executives and 20 production operators. I always believe that working in a group will give a better result.
11. How Do You Describe Your Leadership Style?
I would describe my leadership style as a transactional leader. The reason why I am a transactional leader is that I treat my team with transactions; for example, if my team completes a project successfully, I will give a reward, but if they are not doing good, punishment is waiting. Worry not; the penalty is a positive one to overcome the weakness. We cannot deny that rewards keep the employees motivated, which is what we want in the organization.
12. Do You Participate In Any Extracurricular Activities?
During my undergrad, I was in the boat rowing club. The reason why I wanted to be in that club was that I wanted to challenge myself. Being one, I need to have excellent stamina, and I need to be able to work as a team because four people will row one boat. I can still remember that we participated in a boat rowing competition, and we practiced so hard to get everybody on the same level of stamina before the match. On the competition day, we managed to work as a team, and we completed the race in the given time. Although we did not win the race, I was grateful for the experience.
13. Can You Tell Me What Is Your Academic Strength And Weakness?
My academic strengths are that I am open to learning new things and accept my mistakes if I make any. I love learning new things because learning new things will eventually shape who I am and how my thinking style. New things always excite me because I will be able to challenge myself for another valuable experience and knowledge. My weakness is I am always a self-critic. It doesn’t matter if I received good feedback from my lecturers; I still think I did not do my best, and that was really tiring and often caused stress and burnout. So now, I am trying to appreciate and be fair to myself.
14. What Will You Do If A Project Does Not Go As Planned?
Well, I have to admit that there are times when I have projects that do not go as planned. Although it was a frustrating event, I needed to come out with other solutions quickly. The first time when my project did not go as planned, it was chaos. I still remember that I went running everywhere, met up with so many people, and stayed up late for ad-hoc meetings to fix it. I learned from that first failure to always have Plan B and Plan C because if the first one didn’t work, at least I have two more plans, and I won’t be running frantically everywhere again. I will ensure that I create a detailed risk assessment to anticipate things and make a plan for everything.
15. Tell Me A Time When You Fail?
I admit that I make mistakes too and I take full responsibility for the mistakes. I was once given an opportunity to organize a career event at my university. I managed well and thought that the event would be a huge success. I did most of the job myself because I did not trust anybody. Little that I know at that time that a one-man show will not get me anywhere. I missed things here and there, which resulted in a bad impression of the event. From there, I learn to work in a team, trust people, and delegate tasks.
16. Is There Anything You Have Done Out Of Passion?
Yes, of course! I am passionate about my self-growth. I always find new things to do and seek new experiences. There is no waste trying something new; even the new ‘thing’ is just planting vegetables. Knowledge does not come solely from books but from real-life experiences, which will shape me and make me a better person.
17. Do You Have A Favorite Book?
Getting To Yes by Roger Fisher and William Ury is my forever favorite book. In this book, we can learn the art of negotiation and the limit, whether it is still worth negotiating or we should put a stop and walk away. The authors also offer steps and roadmaps on how to get into an agreement which is very useful in daily life.
18. Can You Share A Time When You Have To Stand Up For Yourself?
When I first started in a junior position, I always accepted any tasks or work that were given to me, thinking that these were my job and I needed to do them no matter what to gain experience. The seniors kept on piling my plate with their tasks, and when I completed those tasks, the management recognized the wrong people. Instead of recognizing me, they recognized those seniors who asked me to finish their job. I was so upset and depressed. So, one day, I walked into the office, and a senior came to my desk and asked me to complete a document for her. I gathered my courage and I said no. She was shocked at first, but I still said no to her. I realized that by saying no, I could keep healthy mental health and still gain experience and knowledge as a junior.
19. How Do You Choose Between Two Good Opportunities?
Before deciding on which one to choose between two good opportunities, I will list down the pros and cons of both choices. Since I am used to creating risk assessments, I will make one for both options with the score to make a better decision. I will also talk to people who have experience in both and get their feedback. When I have my risk assessment scores, pros and cons list, and feedback ready, I know I have everything needed for decision-making.
20. What Will You Do If Money Is Not An Issue?
If money is not an issue, I have three things that I want to do.
- I want to help poor countries to cure curable diseases. Many poor countries still can’t afford regular medicines and shots. I want everybody to have access to regular medication, and I want to make it cheap too.
- Apart from diseases, my dream is also to cure hunger. I wouldn’t say I like seeing young children, pregnant ladies, and elders that do not have food, let alone nutritious ones.
- I want to live in every part of the world. I value experience, and travel gives me one of the best experiences. Maybe one month in each place for the rest of my life?
21. How Do You Handle Conflict In A Team?
We want to avoid conflict, although it is impossible to 100% prevent it. Whenever there is a conflict in my team, I will first listen to the details from both sides. Then we will try to sit down and negotiate the best possible win-win solution that will satisfy both parties.
22. What Is Your Hobby And Why?
I have a lot of hobbies, but I particularly love painting. Whenever I get to play with my color palette and transfer it to the canvas, it gives me a sense of satisfaction, and I can distress myself after a long day at school or a busy, hectic week at work. I managed to sell a few of my paintings, and I was glad that there was somebody out there that appreciated my paintings.
23. Who Is Your Hero?
My father is my hero. He came from a low-income family, and he had successfully gotten out of poverty. I admire his determination to learn even if he had to take up part-time jobs after school. He studied hard, and he became a lecturer in a college in my hometown. He always reminded us about how lucky we are to be able to go to school and focus on studying only. That is why I applied to Stanford to show him that I want to be successful and graduate from an established institution.
24. What Is A Weakness That You Are Still Working On?
One weakness that I am still working on is my impatience. I am very impatient when something did not go according to plan. For example, if a project is unable to be completed on its due date, I will not be able to sit still and I will start to push everybody in that project to complete it, even during a lunch break. I am still working on this, and I have started to make a list, put my emotion behind me, and motivate other team members to complete their part on time.
25. Who Are You In 10 Years?
In 10 years, I see myself as a successful entrepreneur with good company revenue. I also want to help start-up businesses to take the first step into entrepreneurship, and I would like to share my experience with them. I might create funds to subsidize their business.
There you go. 25 questions and answers for you. be humble and polite. Show the interviewer why you are Stanford-worthy material. It would be best if you made a good impression, and you can also ask the interviewer about his experience at Stanford since he is one of the alumni. Good luck!