India is unique in the sense that expertise in a particular field is not needed before going for an MBA (with the exception of ISB), so this question becomes all the more difficult to answer for many candidates fresh out of college.
Those who have had experience are well and fine with the fact that they can easily dodge this bullet by citing the most cliched answer :- career shift. Which works although adding a tinge of creative embellishments to this answer won’t harm.
What about people with no experience, which can either be a gap or just folks fresh out of college?
Rationale behind asking this question is that the interviewer wants to gauge the candidate’s potential for the programme he/she has applied for. Whether they know what they are doing, or whether they are just there to follow the popular bandwagon of jumping into the MBA boat.
Most people want to do an MBA because of these two reasons:
1) To earn big bucks.
2) Because their current job sucks.
If these are the reasons for you to do an MBA, then DO NOT i repeat DO NOT say this to the panel. You will be instantly rejected.
Brutal honesty doesn’t work in the real world. You have to clever about how you frame your words. The time of Raja Harishchandra is over.
So what works?
Here are a some examples as to what you can do and shouldn’t do.
1) Career Shift
Works mighty well for working professionals. So this can be a good way to start the conversation.
2) Starting Your Own Business
Although this is a good answer, but it is a double edged sword. It can easily backfire as well. Since i remember a candidate giving this answer and then he was grilled about how Flipkart founders started their company without an MBA.So be ready for counter questions.
Now very few people would cite this as an example but an MBA degree gives you immense opportunity to get in touch with people. An MBA from a reputed B School will get you in touch with reputed doyens of many fields which will certainly help you in the years to come.
Now having said that, even though you have a ‘right answer’ in mind, it might not be enough to persuade the panelists since during the actual interview there is a lot of nervousness and tension.
Even if you give an apt answer to ‘Why MBA’. the panelist may not be impressed since you may not be able to articulate the answer in a proper fashion.
So remember, the panelist don’t want to know the ‘brutal truth’ but want to hear something ‘interesting’. This means, how you speak and what words you use, make a huge impact.
I’ve seen two people saying the same thing in the interview but the way they speak is the game changer.
In the end, i would just say, be very clear, concise and to the point. Speak confidently, don’t fumble, that gives a very bad impression. Prepare a good story that is “interesting” to hear. (You can take some creative liberties, if you know what i mean)
Nobody likes long boring essays. Your words should hit like arrows to the bullseye. All the best!
“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step!”