MBA Career Advice: What If I Already Told That Story?

In this weekly series, our friends at MBA Career Coaches will be dispensing invaluable advice to help you actively manage your career. Topics include building your network, learning from mistakes and setbacks, perfecting your written communication, and mastering even the toughest interviews. 

You are in the interview. It is going well. You have had the chance to field a question about leadership, one about teamwork, and one about your strategic problem solving abilities. Then the interviewer asks you this: “Tell me about an achievement you are really proud of.”

Uh oh — you have already burned your proudest accomplishment story in the leadership question when you talked about a big benefit you planned!! You know you can’t repeat the same story or you will look like a one-trick pony. But you didn’t prepare another answer and nothing else comes immediately to mind. What do you do?

First, creating your Story Matrix will help you avoid this experience. But if you end up there anyway, follow these three easy steps to get out of this moment “alive.”

1. Be honest. If the benefit truly is the thing you are proudest of, it’s ok to acknowledge that. A natural response might be to say:

“You know what? I would say that the benefit I planned and executed that I already told you about is really the accomplishment I am most proud of. I’d say that for a few reasons. First, because ______. Second, because ______. And finally because we were able to have such an impact on ________.”

2. Remember an interview is a dialogue between two intelligent adults. So check in with the interviewer. Give her the chance to guide what you do next.

“But I imagine you’d like to hear me speak about something else, so would you like me to tell you about another accomplishment I am really proud of?”

3. a story Then if she says “Yes,” tell a different story. The added benefit of talking first about the other experience and then checking in is that it buys you a little more thinking time. At this point, you no longer need to share about yourproudest accomplishment, so some of the pressure is off. Talk about something else you are proud of. For extra bonus points, try to pick something from an arena of life you haven’t yet covered – extracurricular activities, hobbies, or even personal relationships. Turn an otherwise stressful moment to your advantage!

Upcoming Events

Upcoming Deadlines

  • INSEAD (Round 4)
  • UNC Kenan-Flagler (Round 3)
  • USC Marshall (Round 3)
  • Carnegie Mellon Tepper (Round 3)
  • London Business School (Round 3)
  • Cambridge Judge (Round 4)
  • NYU Stern (Round 4)

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2020–2021 MBA Essay Analysis

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