My Stanford MBA Interview: M&A Expert’s Experience

At the time of my interview invite I had been working for 3 years at a bulge bracket investment bank. I had worked on some well-known and many less-known M&A deals during the course of my time at the IB. I did get promoted from an analyst to an associate in record time, at least for my bank and that too without an MBA. I realized that going further from an associate position without an MBA was going to be difficult.

Stanford GSB Interview Questions

 

My Background: Had a 750 GMAT, 3.83 GPA from a US non-Ivy undergrad. Had a promotion under my belt and also few high-quality extra-curricular activities. Helped out at several charities, and served on the board of a small charity. Had solid recommendations. Also made it to Harvard, but got rejected after my interview. Of French origin, but US citizen. This probably helped. Post-MBA objective I mentioned was to get into the top-management team at an investment bank.

My Interview Prep: Nothing unusual. Got a few interview questions from very close friends who had applied in the first round that year and got an invite. Very grateful to a trader friend who shared interview questions, even though he was wait-listed at the GSB. Got a couple of good deals from MBA admissions consultants, though in my case consultants didn’t work very well. I expected a lot more help – I made it through in the end, but only by the skin of my teeth. Always kept hearing that Stanford doesn’t like bankers. I must say this is quite a  rumour that kept me awake during my interview prep. Well, Stanford doesn’t like anybody and likes everybody. The odds of getting into Stanford definitely depend on your background as well as your work experience. Stanford has preference for some jobs over the others. But going to the extent of saying Stanford never likes bankers is just silly. In my year about 6 banker friends got in from my firm in the US alone.

At the Interview: Interviewed off-campus with an alumni, who was very warm and considerate. We had our interview in a nice, quiet place. The interviewer asked probing questions, but never probed to an annoying extent. Most of the interview seemed to not be very structured – but I’ve heard that’s sometimes what you get in your Stanford interview. Some of the questions did take the usual ‘aptitude-type’ form but were tailored to my work experience – this impressed me quite a lot since my interviewer a very impressive person himself, seemed to know about me.

The Questions:

  1. Tell me one interesting thing about yourself, that people will be surprised to know about you?
  2. Why is Stanford the school of your choice to achieve your post-MBA goal?
  3. Who inspires you the most and why?
  4. Narrate one experience in your life, where you have had to overcome adverse circumstances to meet your manager’s expectations? How did you do it?
  5.  How did your responsibilities change before and after your promotion? How did you cope up with it?
  6. Which M&A deal that you primarily worked on do you remember the most and why?
  7. Narrate an experience where you have had to deal with difficult colleagues and yet delivered beyond expectations?

 

Author: Homer

Homer has an MBA from a top-three US B-School. An Indian engineering graduate from a non-IIT (IITs are Indian equivalents of our tech schools such as Caltech and MIT), Homer is hope for all non-IITians looking to get into Harvard/Wharton/Stan. Homer has a BE degree in mechanical engineering from a college in the south Indian city of Bangalore. Homer says that he was never a great student in his earlier days or at engineering school. What then worked in his favor? Well he founded a mechanical engineering startup after working for a couple of years at a renowned German automobile company. Homer has the longest pre-MBA work experience in our family - 4 yrs at his first job in a no-name mechanical engineering firm + 2 yrs at the German automobile maker + 3 yrs at his startup. Homer sold his startup back to his former employer and is now a top consultant (MBB consulting). Watch out for posts by Homer (to avoid them, of course!).

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