Should You Interview On Campus or Off Campus?

You have received a coveted invitation to interview at your target business school, but the school is giving you a choice: interview on campus with an admissions committee member or student interviewer, or interview off campus with a graduate of the program. Which should you choose?

MBA Interview Options

Every business school has different admissions interview requirements. Historically, NYU Stern and Harvard Business School (HBS) offered interviews only with admissions committee members, either on campus or in select locations in the United States and abroad, wherever admissions committee members traveled. Columbia Business School (CBS) and the Stanford Graduate School of Business (GSB) offered alumni interviews all over the world. And Northwestern Kellogg, Dartmouth Tuck, and Duke Fuqua offered a hybrid—candidates could choose to interview on campus or could schedule a meeting with a member of the school’s alumni network in a city near them.

For the past two years, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, almost every MBA program has relied on virtual interviews, with applicants interviewing with admissions committee members, students, or alumni via Zoom. For the 2022–2023 MBA admissions season, a few schools are offering on-campus and off-campus, in-person interview options. Some, including HBS, CBS, and Duke Fuqua, are using both in-person interviews and virtual ones. At this point, we do not anticipate that the virtual interview option will go away anytime soon for most programs.

Which Interview Format Should You Choose?

If a school offers a variety of interviews options, do they all generally carry the same weight? In short, yes! They are essentially the same. Think of it this way, why would an admissions committee allow alumni to interview applicants off campus if they did not feel that they were getting quality reports on those applicants? And often, the line of questioning is virtually the same for on-campus interviews as for off-campus interviews, especially when those interviews are blind, meaning that the interviewer has not read the candidate’s full application beforehand.

These alumni interviewers are carefully chosen and trained to interview applicants and have a very defined line of questioning that they follow.

Here is one exception, though: if you have not yet visited your target school and doing so would not be an imposition on you, you should use an on-campus, in-person interview (if available, of course) as an opportunity to travel to campus, attend a class, and perhaps meet with a student or two. This will position you to then be able to speak far more intelligently about your target program, potentially even in your interview, depending on how the timing works out. If you have already visited the school or cannot make the trip during the interview period, do not worry! Admissions committees understand when applicants cannot visit, whether because of work, cost, or location. If you are given options, do not obsess over making the “right” choice; just focus on preparing for your interview and then performing your best with whoever ultimately interviews you.

For help with preparing for your upcoming interview, download a free copy of the mbaMission Interview Guide and any applicable school-specific Interview Guides, which include more in-depth information about the types of interviews your target schools conduct, along with sample interview questions provided by past applicants.

For even more preparation support, consider scheduling a mock interview with an mbaMission application expert. You can sign up for a general Mock MBA Interview Session, a Wharton Team-Based Discussion Simulation, or an HBS Intensive Interview Simulation, facilitated by our HBS Interviewer in Residence, Devi Vallabhaneni.

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