We believe that asking MBA candidates about their goals is plainly absurd, because so many students change their goals while they are in business school. Further, the pursuit of an MBA is supposed to be about career development and exploration, right? Regardless of how we feel regarding the subject, though, you must ensure that if a school asks about your goals in its essay questions or an interview, you have a compelling story about where you believe your MBA will take you. Several years ago, getting a banking job may have sounded compelling to you—are you really capable of making that transition today? Certainly, fewer jobs are available now in the real estate world—is this a likely next step for you during a prolonged real estate drought? Venture capital and private equity jobs are challenging to land even during the best of times—are you able to compete with the elite during a downturn?
These are just a few examples of questions you should honestly ask yourself. Keep in mind that not only are the admissions committees examining your story to determine what attributes you might bring to the next class, but if you are a borderline case, they may also send your profile to the career services office to help confirm whether your stated goals are realistic and if you will be difficult to place by or after graduation (i.e., whether you will hinder the school’s employment stats and thereby negatively affect its standing in the rankings). So, pay special attention to your goal statements and make sure that you can credibly stand behind them—and, as we have written in the past, even consider being prepared to discuss some alternate goals.