MIT Sloan Interview Preparation: The Behavioral Event-Based Interview (BEI) Decoded

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If you are reading this, you likely just received an invitation to interview for the the MIT Sloan MBA program.  If so, congratulations!  Being offered an interview means that you should be confident that the admissions committee thinks you can truly excel academically at MIT Sloan and now it just comes down to fit.  At this point, your chances of getting in are almost 50-50.  

After your initial excitement, you might be starting to feel a little panicked.  Don’t!  We at Cambridge Coaching have some tips to help you prepare for your upcoming interview.

What does Behavioral Event-Based Interview Mean?

You may have noticed that your application essay prompts focused specifically on what you have done in the past, and not what you are hoping to do in the future.  MIT Sloan firmly believes that past behavior speaks volumes about your future response in a situation and the likelihood that you will be successful at MIT Sloan and beyond.   On interview day you can expect a similar focus on past actions.  Admissions committee members use the Behavior Event-Based Interview to tease out qualities you currently possess to determine if you are a good fit for the program.   

The STAR Method

Good news!  The interview itself will be mostly informal, almost conversational, and your interviewer is likely to be friendly.  The interviewer will ask you a series of introductory questions (i.e. “has anything changed since your application?”) before diving into the behavior event-based portion of the interviews.  It is important that you speak concisely, spending no more than 60-90 seconds per answer.    Spending a few hours preparing beforehand will give you a repertoire of experiences to draw from.  

As you prepare, Cambridge Coaching recommends that you think of 10-12 experiences from your career that showcase the three mains traits the admissions committee is looking for:  influencing others, relationship building, and drive.  MIT Sloan is also looking for individuals who have succeeded by “getting their hands dirty,” so to speak.

You can use the table below to help you generate stories.  


Finished generating ideas?  Good!  Now it is time to use the STAR Method.  STAR stands for:

Situation: Start your response by outlining the situation, including the personal or business challenges.

Task:  Next, discuss the task at hand to remedy the situation.

Action:  After the situation and task are clear, explain what actions you took, specifically those where you thought “outside of the box” or expanded on the task scope.

Result: Finally, bring your story to a close by sharing the results.  Be specific and be sure to show how your innovative approach made a great result possible.  If the result was not to your liking, talk about what you learned.  You can’t always succeed, but if you can show you learned from your errors, the story is all the more compelling.

Every experience you share with the interviewer should follow this basic outline.  

General Tips

Additional Preparation

  • In addition to the situations above, you should also be prepared to answer the question “tell me about yourself” in about 30-45 seconds.  Nothing shakes your confidence more than being asked this question at the beginning of the interview and stumbling through a response.  Your answer should hit on themes from your prepared stories.
  • Prepare a response to “why an MBA, why now, and why MIT Sloan”.  I have yet to meet someone who was not asked.
  • Be prepared to pivot.  The interviewer may not ask any of the questions you are expecting, but if you can re-purpose a story to suit the question, that is perfect!
  • Be confident, genuine, and above all, humble.  

On and After Interview Day

  • If your interview is on-campus, sign up to sit in on a class and to take a tour of the campus.  It will help you pick up some specific insights for your thank you note.
  • Oh, and do follow up with a handwritten thank you note.  It makes all the difference!

For more interview preparation tips, be sure ask your Cambridge Coaching MBA coach. Cambridge Coaching also conducts mock interviews upon request.  (I used this service when I applied to MIT Sloan, and am now a proud member of the Class of 2017!)

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