Berkeley Haas MBA Interview

First, at your Berkeley Haas MBA interview, be prepared to demonstrate deep understanding of Haas Defining Principles (HDP)

  1. Question the Status Quo
  2. Confidence Without Attitude
  3. Students Always
  4. Beyond Yourself

Also be prepared to share examples of how you have demonstrated HDP in professional and personal life.

Second, be prepared to connect your long-term goal to Haas professors, programs, people. In other words, customize your “Why Haas?” answer to fit your career plans. Show that you know Haas programs deeply and can explain why and how Haas best prepares you to change the world.

Third, be ready to prove, with logic and passion, why you would choose Berkeley over other options. Haas usually loses to Stanford GSB and alumni interviewers are sensitive to applicants applying to other, higher ranked schools. Have some criteria by which Berkeley beats other schools. For instance, a former consultant client who wanted to pursue a career in the healthcare industry mentioned that he wanted to pursue a Health Management Certificate at the Haas School of Business. Stanford, by contrast, does not offer such a certificate.

Fourth and finally, review your written application. Think through the kinds of questions you are likely to be asked, and think about your responses. Practice interviews can be very helpful, but be sure not to over-rehearse your answers. Your responses should always sound natural and conversational, not scripted and memorized.

A former client told me that sometimes alumni interviewers receive “tailor-made instructions / check-points” from the admission office about what kinds of points he should ask me and check. Therefore, we encourage you to review your application and ask yourself “What issues might the admissions office ask my interviewer to confirm at the interview?”

Might they be concerned, for example, about my:

communication skills (can I explain complex issues in simple words?)

teamwork skills (can I handle disappointments? can I unite diverse peers)

career goals (are they realistic? do I have a “plan B”?)

Frequently Asked Interview Questions

Tell me about yourself?
Tell me about your greatest professional/Personal achievement?
Tell me about a time when you failed?

Why MBA?
Why Haas? 
What is your short-term goal after MBA or 5-year goal? What is your long-term goal?
How can you add value to our class? Why should we select you and not anyone else?
Do you have any questions for us/me?

Other areas touched upon are – Situational questions, Behavioral questions, Cross questions based on your answers

Interview Transcript - 1

I just had my interview last night. It ended up being over the phone with a 2nd-year student. It seems like my situation was a bit unusual, and they are usually on-campus with 2nd-years, or off-campus with alums. Could be wrong though!

The interview was very relaxed and conversational, with a strong focus on fit. My interviewer spent about two minutes explaining her situation to give some context. The interview was blind; she only had my resume. As best I remember, her questions for me were:

– Walk me through your resume

– Why an MBA, and why now?

– Why Haas specifically?

– What groups would you participate in at Haas?

– Which of the defining principles are most important to you? Please link them to your experience and goals [no right answer here!]

– How would you like to be remembered or known by your classmates at Haas?

– What are my short- and long-term career goals

My interviewer also asked some additional questions specific to my situation. She really listened well to what I had already said and formed additional questions based on my earlier responses, and it was clear she was not just reading off a list. We had some open conversation based on my responses as well.

She also gave me the opportunity to ask her questions and gave very thoughtful responses to each. None of the questions were strictly behavioral, and most of what she talked about was related to the culture of the school.

Overall, a really pleasant and engaging interview. I imagine that the questions will vary depending on your interviewer but it wouldn’t surprise me if the general theme (cultural fit) is the same.

Interview Transcript - 2

I interviewed last night with an alum based in Seattle. She chose a local coffee shop in her neighborhood. This was my 8th and final interview of R1. It was also the most casual (Berkeley, go figure). She started off by explaining that the Haas interview was a way for the school to keep the alumni involved and also a way for Haas to market the school to the interviewee. This really set me at ease. She spent 10 minutes telling me about her path to Haas and what she has been up to since (she was an 01 grad). She let me in on some idiosyncrasies of the program. The next 30 minutes were spent on answering the typical questions: Tell me about yourself? Why MBA? Why Haas? ST/LT goals? How will you contribute/participate at Haas?

She was really interested in digging a little deeper into answers. She wanted to ensure that I was ready to become an active member of the school. She specified that since Haas is a public school that it was not privy to a lot of the lavish extras that other top schools are. The school depends on student-led initiatives, events, planning, etc.

She ended by telling me what happens next in the process – she provides her feedback to the ADCOM and she doesn’t hear anything again unless I am admitted. Once admitted, she and many others will turn on the charm offensive to ensure that you accept the offer. She closed by saying that she gets the opportunity to do just that.
My overall impression is that the Haas interview plays only a marginal role in the assessment process. Much like GSB, it seems that you can do more harm than good during an interview. That said, the interaction with this particular alum worked on me as I am excited to hear back from Haas!


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Interview Transcript - 3

I had an interview with a Haas admission officer on Monday. The interview was 50-minutes long and a blind one. I felt that the interview was kind of “Behavioral Event Interviews”; the interviewer often dug into details and asked me what, how, why so often. Therefore, you will have questions special to you. Here are the questions I had. Additional BEI-type questions followed some of the questions below.

Walk me through resume

Why did you move to other functions within the company?

Why Haas.

STG and LTG.

If you could change one thing relating to your professional topic, then what would it be? (This is like Short Answer 1 in Haas’s essay.)

Difficult teamwork experience

Teamwork failure

Your contributions to Haas

Lesson from your international work experience. How did you resolve a difficult situation in an international project?

What are you going to do if you have extra 4hrs a day?

Anything that you want the adcom to know?


Interview Transcript - 4

I attended Super Saturday and had an absolutely amazing time. As for the interview itself, it was extremely friendly and conversational. The interviewer was excited to share anecdotes about her time at Haas, and we spent most of the time chatting about what I’ve liked about my roles and industries, hobbies, and what I hope to get out of my MBA experience. I felt as if she really wanted to get to know me both personally and professionally. Other students I spoke with had different interview experiences: some received some out-of-the-box creative questions, while others received a lot of behavioral questions. Others had a much more structured interview. My advice is to review the Haas defining principles beforehand and show your love and fit for the school.

For those waiting to interview or waiting for an interview invite, best of luck!!! Rooting for you all!


Frequently asked Situational and Behavioural interview questions

Practise Now

Interview Transcript - 5

Met my interviewer in the admissions office on campus, interviewed in a small room in the same building. Second-year student interviewed me, seemed they had scanned my résumé prior to the interview.

Interview ended up being very relaxed and conversational, but there were several distinct questions:


  • Walk me through your résumé (included brief explanation of why MBA in response)
  • Why Berkeley for your MBA?
  • Tell me about how you prefer to work in teams
  • Any questions for me?

I was asked to provide an ID, which did not occur for other schools.

I was surprised by the level of enthusiasm that my interviewer had about Berkeley. I think it speaks to the strong culture and identity that’s built on campus. They were also very friendly and welcoming, which also seems characteristic of the school.

Interview Transcript - 6

I have just finished my Haas interview with a member of admission. My interview was truly conversational and most of the questions were ordinary ones. Also, at the beginning he mentioned that Haas invites approximately 30% of the applicants to interview….For your reference, followings are the questions that I was asked at the interview. I hope it helps you and your clients.

Walk me through your resume

Short and long term goal

Why MBA, Why Haas, Why now?

Team work experience

What do people around you mention about you

Why do you think people will say about you in the way you said

What is the biggest risk that you take currently

What do you want me to ask you

Any questions?

Interview Transcript - 7

Hey everyone,

I’m gonna break up the monotony of the interview invite jitters and provide a debrief of my interview. I interviewed the other day on campus with a current student. I thought my interviewer was really awesome, and I was super impressed by the questions asked + dialogue that ensued. I didn’t feel like there was a standardized set of questions during this interview. Instead, everything was very free flowing. My advice is to really know your story and what your future outlook is. Have specific examples of failures, success, friction with a boss, friction with peers, leadership moment, regrets, what makes you unique, etc etc… basically all the typical behavioral questions. Make sure your stories are air tight because we dove pretty deep with each one. As long as you’re being genuine and witty (if the conversation permits), there shouldn’t be any issues. I actually enjoyed this interview a lot more than any other interview.

Overall, I feel great about the interview but who knows what metrics are really involved. Now it is just a waiting game. I am going to forget about all of this by focusing on other things until mid March rolls around. Hope this helps! 

Interview Transcript - 8

Has anyone else completed an on campus interview that has any tips to share? It seems like the interview is pretty straight-forward and conversational, but I have heard from a couple of friends that they got grilled on their long term goals (like what exactly you’d be doing, what stakeholders you would engage with, what would your day to day look like, etc.) I have also heard that they ask you about the defining principles but have not seen these questions come up on the clear admit forum. Any ideas?

Yes, they can get very specific. It’s hard to give you advice on this because they don’t follow a template that fits everyone. Really know your story and goals. For example… tell me about a time you had friction with a boss… be prepared to be followed up with: how did your boss react when you did that, what did your peers think, did that affect morale in your workplace, what would you do differently, how is everything now between you and your boss, what did you learn, etc etc. Yes, you’re right about defining principles. Be prepared for a question asking which is your favorite + a situation where you exemplified one.

Just relax and be yourself. I personally didn’t over prepare for this interview because I felt the nature of the interview would hurt me if I did. I simply thought up some recent scenarios to fit what they might ask me and went from there. Big picture stuff. I think one reason they’re prodding is to verify how genuine you are with your stories. Think of it as a first date where your common ground is you both think Haas is a super cool place. Dress nice, be polite, and be genuine.

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