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How to Ace Your Deferred MBA Interview

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deferred MBA interview

Embarking on the journey towards a deferred MBA program like Harvard 2+2, Chicago Booth Scholars, or UVA Darden’s Future Year Scholars Program is an exciting yet challenging endeavor for college seniors. These prestigious programs offer a unique opportunity to secure a spot in a top-tier business school before gaining professional experience. However, the application process, especially the interview phase, can be daunting. With that in mind, we’ve prepared some timely tips to help college seniors get ready for their deferred MBA interview.

Did you know that SBC offers a la carte interview prep services? Reach out today to learn more about All-In Interview Prep.

Understand the Program and School Culture

Before your interview, thoroughly research the deferred MBA program you’re applying to and the business school itself. Understand their mission, values, and unique offerings. Familiarize yourself with recent developments, faculty members, and alumni achievements.

Choosing a school with a culture that resonates with your values ensures you’ll be better equipped to navigate the intricate nuances of the modern business landscape. A little research and a hefty dose of self-reflection will help you find which MBA program fits you best.

Demonstrating your knowledge and enthusiasm for the program during the interview will leave a lasting impression on the admissions committee.

Listen to B-Schooled Podcast #186: Communicating MBA Program Knowledge and Fit

Articulate Your Career Goals

One key aspect of your interview will be discussing your career aspirations. Clearly articulate your short-term and long-term goals, demonstrating how the deferred MBA program fits into your overall career trajectory. Be specific about the industries and roles you’re interested in and how the program will help you achieve your objectives. Admissions committees want to see that you have a clear vision for your future and that the program aligns with your ambitions.

Highlight Leadership and Extracurricular Activities

Deferred MBA programs seek candidates who have demonstrated leadership potential and a commitment to extracurricular activities. Don’t worry about coming up with wildly impressive situations, even if you’re applying to the most elite MBA program in the world. You can solve more minor problems and still show leadership potential.

During the interview, highlight your leadership roles in student organizations, community service projects, or internships. Discuss challenges you’ve faced and how you’ve overcome them, showcasing your resilience and adaptability.

Prepare for Behavioral Questions

Expect to encounter behavioral questions during your interview, which require you to provide examples from your past experiences. Practice responding to questions that assess your teamwork skills, ability to handle conflicts, and leadership capabilities. Use the STAR method (Situation, Task, Action, Result) to structure your responses effectively, ensuring clarity and coherence.

The STAR technique works well for “situational” questions, such as: “Tell me about a time you failed;” “Tell me about a time you came up with an innovative solution;” or “Tell me about a time you managed a difficult project;” and “Tell me about a time you led a team.”

The power of the STAR method is that it allows you to formulate a very complete answer, but it keeps your answer organized and prevents you from rambling on and on—a common occurrence in interviews.

Listen to B-Schooled Podcast #94: A Deep Dive on Behavioral Interviews

Showcase Your Intellectual Curiosity

Business schools value candidates who are intellectually curious and eager to learn. Demonstrate your passion for learning by discussing books, articles, or academic projects that have influenced your thinking. Be prepared to engage in thoughtful discussions about current events, industry trends, or business challenges. This will showcase your analytical skills and critical thinking abilities.

deferred MBA interview

The UVA Darden School of Business recently shared deferred MBA interview advice culled from current FYSP students.  Jack Ratterree (Class of 2025) says applicants should “Have 3-5 key things that you want your interviewer to remember about you, and make sure those things are mentioned. Also, make sure these things demonstrate a breadth of different experiences and knowledge you have, as Darden is looking for well-rounded individuals and not necessarily those that already have great business knowledge.”

Be Authentic and Genuine

Finally, be yourself during the interview. Admissions committees evaluate your qualifications and personality and fit with the program. Authenticity is key, so don’t try to be someone you’re not. Share genuine stories and insights that reflect your true self, allowing the committee to get to know you beyond your resume.

@stacyblackmanconsulting #sbcyourfuture #mba #hbs #mbaadmissions #authentic #personalbrand #harvard #businessschool ? original sound – Stacy Blackman Consulting

Preparing for a deferred MBA program interview requires thorough research, thoughtful reflection, and effective communication. By understanding the program, articulating your goals, showcasing your leadership, preparing for behavioral questions, demonstrating intellectual curiosity, and being authentic, you’ll be well-equipped to ace your interview and secure a spot in your dream business school.


Stacy Blackman Consulting offers multiple services to meet your MBA application needs, from our All-In Partnership and Interview Prep to hourly help with essay editing, resume review, and much more! Contact us today for a free 15-minute advising session to talk strategy with a Principal SBC consultant.

Here’s a snapshot of the caliber of expertise on our SBC team.


Ashley is a former MBA Admissions Board Member for Harvard Business School (HBS), where she interviewed and evaluated thousands of business school applicants for over a six year tenure. Ashley holds an MBA from HBS.

During her HBS years, Ashley was the Sports Editor for the Harbus and a member of the B-School Blades Ice Hockey Team. After HBS, she worked in Marketing at the Gillette Company on Male and Female shaving ...

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Kerry is a former member of the Admissions Board at Harvard Business School (HBS).

During her 5+ year tenure at HBS, she read and evaluated hundreds of applications and interviewed MBA candidates from a wide range of backgrounds across the globe. She also led marketing and outreach efforts focused on increasing diversity and inclusion, ran the Summer Venture in Management Program (SVMP), and launched the 2+2 Program during her time in Admissions.

Kerry holds a B.A. from Bates College and  ...

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A former associate director of admissions at Harvard Business School, Pauline served on the HBS MBA Admissions Board full-time for four years. She evaluated and interviewed HBS applicants, both on-campus and globally. 

Pauline's career has included sales and marketing management roles with Coca-Cola, Gillette, Procter & Gamble, and IBM.  For over 10 years, Pauline has expertly guided MBA applicants, and her clients h ...

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Geri is a former member of the Admissions Board at Harvard Business School (HBS). 

In her 7 year tenure in HBS Admissions, she read and evaluated hundreds of applications and interviewed MBA candidates from a diverse set of academic, geographic, and employment backgrounds.  Geri also traveled globally representing the school at outreach events in order to raise awareness for women and international students.  In additio ...

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Laura comes from the MBA Admissions Board at Harvard Business School (HBS) and is an HBS MBA alumnus. In her HBS Admissions role, she evaluated and interviewed hundreds of business school candidates, including internationals, women, military and other applicant pools, for five years. 

Prior to her time as a student at HBS, Laura began her career in advertising and marketing in Chicago at Leo Burnett where she worked on th ...

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Andrea served as the Associate Director of MBA Admissions at Harvard Business School (HBS) for over five years.  In this role, she provided strategic direction for student yield-management activities and also served as a full member of the admissions committee.

In 2007, Andrea launched the new 2+2 Program at Harvard Business School – a program targeted at college junior applicants to Harvard Business School.  Andrea has also served as a Career Coach for Harvard Business School for both cu ...

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Jennifer served as Admissions Officer at the Stanford (GSB) for five years. She holds an MBA from Stanford (GSB) and a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

Jennifer has over 15 years experience in guiding applicants through the increasingly competitive admissions process into top MBA programs. Having read thousands and thousands of essays and applications while at Stanford (GSB) Admiss ...

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Erin K.

Erin served in key roles in MBA Admissions--as Director at Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley and Assistant Director at Stanford's Graduate School of Business (GSB).

Erin served on the admissions committee at each school and has read thousands of applications in her career. At Haas, she served for seven years in roles that encompassed evaluation, outreach, and diversity and inclusion. During her tenure in Admissions at GSB, she was responsible for candidate evaluation, applicant outreach, ...

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Susie comes from the Admissions Office of the Stanford Graduate School of Business where she reviewed and evaluated hundreds of prospective students’ applications.  She holds an MBA from Stanford’s GSB and a BA from Stanford in Economics.

Prior to advising MBA applicants, Susie held a variety of roles over a 15-year period in capital markets, finance, and real estate, including as partner in one of the nation’s most innovative finance and real estate investment organizations. In that r ...

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Dione holds an MBA degree from Stanford Business School (GSB) and a BA degree from Stanford University, where she double majored in Economics and Communication with concentrations in journalism and sociology. Dione has served as an Admissions reader and member of the Minority Admissions Advisory Committee at Stanford.  

Dione is an accomplished and respected advocate and thought leader on education and diversity. She is ...

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Anthony served as the Associate Director of MBA Admissions at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, where he dedicated over 10 years of expertise.

During his time as a Wharton Admissions Officer, he read and reviewed thousands of applications and helped bring in a class of 800+ students a year.  Anthony has traveled both domestically and internationally to recruit a ...

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Meghan served as the Associate Director of Admissions and Marketing at the Wharton MBA’s Lauder Institute, a joint degree program combining the Wharton MBA with an MA in International Studies.

In her role on the Wharton MBA admissions committee, Meghan advised domestic and international applicants; conducted interviews and information sessions domestically and overseas in Asia, Central and South America, and Europe; and evaluated applicants for admission to the program. Meghan also managed ...

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Amy comes from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania where she was Associate Director. Amy devoted 12 years at the Wharton School, working closely with MBA students and supporting the admissions team. 

During her tenure at Wharton, Amy served as a trusted adviser to prospective applicants as well as admitted and matriculated students.  She conducted admissions chats with applicants early in the admissions ...

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Ally brings six years of admissions experience to the SBC team, most recently as an Assistant Director of Admission for the full-time MBA program at Columbia Business School (CBS). 

During her time at Columbia, Ally was responsible for reviewing applications, planning recruitment events, and interviewing candidates for both the full-time MBA program and the Executive MBA program. She traveled both internationally and dome ...

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Erin B.

Erin has over seven years of experience working across major institutions, including University of Pennsylvania, Columbia Business School, and NYU's Stern School of Business.

At Columbia Business School, Erin was an Assistant Director of Admissions where she evaluated applications for both the full time and executive MBA programs, sat on the admissions and merit scholarship committees and advised applicants on which program might be the best fit for them based on their work experience and pro ...

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Emma comes from the MBA Admissions Office at Columbia Business School (CBS), where she was Associate Director. 

Emma conducted dozens of interviews each cycle for the MBA and EMBA programs, as well as coordinating the alumni ambassador interview program. She read and evaluated hundreds of applications each cycle, delivered information sessions to audiences across the globe, and advised countless waitlisted applicants.</sp ...

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