In B-school interviews, candidates often come across questions like 'Why do you want an MBA in a particular specialisation or this institute', 'What made you choose this specialisation', etc. So, how do you answer these questions most convincingly? Here, we have discussed the importance of such questions as well as the right way to approach them.
Purpose of Specialisation-related Questions
- The panel wants to know whether you have thought over the domain you wish to specialize in or not. They also want to assess your curiosity to know about the different areas in Management. This presents you as an informed candidate with an ability to research w.r.t relevant areas.
- The panel wants to assess your career goals, degree of focus, reasoning for it and the link between your goals and your intent to pursue a formal program in management.
- If you state a functional area for specialisation, more questions could be asked on it. You are advised to prepare questions which capture the basics of your intended area of specialisation. For example, if you desire to specialize in Marketing then you are atleast expected to know an operational definition of marketing, steps in the marketing process, difference between sales & marketing etc.
The Right Approach For MBA Specialisation Questions
- Firstly, you need to find out your area of interest. Also, be clear about how the field of your specialisation relates to :
- Your strengths and weaknesses: For example, if you are a person with good persuasion skills, then you may be more probable to contribute to the domain of marketing. Similarly if you have strong interpersonal skills, then you may be more suited for a role in HR.
- Your educational qualifications: There are certain areas of study which have a positive correlation with the Management program. For example, if you chose to study Commerce in graduation, an interest in a career in Management is clearly indicated. Try highlighting this point in favour of your candidature. However, this does not rule out someone studying a totally different set of subjects not to be eligible for a management program.
- Work experience: If you have prior work experience, wield it to your advantage. It demonstrates an understanding of the way an organization works. However this needs to be corroborated with key learning, contribution and achievements.
- Future expectations and ambition in life: If your career goals are aligned with your reasons to pursue an MBA program, it puts you on a strong pedestal w.r.t goal clarity and time bound career plans.
- The specialisation you intend to pursue may be a consequence of a more basic interest. For example, if you take keen interest in analysing the stock market, it may form a good platform to project an interest in finance.
- You may link the intended area of specialisation to a specific skill/personality trait. For example, the ability to persuade/convince others may form the genesis for marketing, while good data analysis/management may lead to finance!
- Do some introspection. If you can convince yourself that you need to specialise in a particular area, then you can also convince the interviewers!
Sample Answers for MBA Specialisation-related Questions
Here, you will see examples of wrong and right ways to answer questions interview question 'why MBA in this field' or 'which field in MBA do you prefer'. Alongside, we have analysed what can be problematic and what can turn favourable for you.
Some candidates come out with vague, random and ambiguous answers to the ‘why MBA’ question. Such answers negate your candidature as the panel is not convinced about your reasons to be a part of their program. Let us look at one such answer:
"I am not sure as to which field to opt for, but I think Finance will be good as there is more money in it."
- It is too short to reflect your knowledge of different fields of Management.
- It does not state adequate reasons for choosing Finance as the field of specialisation.
- The focus is money and not career or job satisfaction.
There are candidates who are able to create convincing reasons for enrolling in an MBA program. Let us take the case of a candidate with no work-experience who states the following:
"I have had no industry experience, and hence do not have exposure to functional areas like Finance, Marketing and Systems. However, while participating in and organizing various college-level festivals, I earned the reputation of someone with good “money management” skills, an input which conforms with my ability to manage my pocket money well. I want to groom this skill formally and transform from a small scale money manger to an industry ready “finance manager”.
Analysis: Despite a lack of professional experience, the candidate can demonstrate his natural skill to organize and manage his pocket money. Linking this preliminary skill to a more evolved and professional competence relates to managing financial resources efficiently!
Let us consider the case of a candidate who would like to specialise in a functional area where in which she has prior work experience. Her answer is as follows:
"I would like to specialise in Systems. I have experience in the "Software Industry", in particular to coding and software programming. However, since I lack knowledge of functional areas like finance and operations, I could not play an effective role in client interaction. I feel I would learn these skills when I specialise in Systems from 'institute name'. Moreover, an MBA would open up new opportunities for me in the field of IT Consultancy."
Analysis: The candidate can relate her professional experience with her intended area of study. She aims to fill the functional gap with a management qualification.
Things to Avoid
- Do not link the choice of field to material gains. This looks too commercial and mundane.
- Do not state a particular field without a basic understanding of the same. It may backfire with a volley of difficult –to-handle questions
- Avoid putting it onto the first year of MBA. This may indicate that you haven’t researched well enough or you haven’t been able to understand your strengths & career aspirations.
FAQs about 'why MBA' Interview Questions
1. How do you mention specialisation in interview?
While expressing your preference for a particular specialisation, you should cite instances and build upon the reasons for your interest in that field. Also, you can explain how the specialisation matches your strengths, skills, or past academic achievements.
2. What do you understand by Specialisation?
MBA specialisations primarily focus on a specific area or process, that forms a part of the management domain. The core specialisations in MBA relate to departments like marketing, finance, operations, human resource management, etc. With time and advancements in technology, several other streams have been added up in the list, e.g. Business Analytics, Artificial Intelligence, etc.
3. Why is specialisation important in business?
Segregating business into various functional areas improves productivity, efficiency, and leads to a better quality of work. As the employees are experts in their specific areas, they are able to rationalise the workflow and manage the tasks effectively.
4. What is the best answer for why MBA?
There is no such best answer to this question, as it depends upon your own experiences and skills. So, the best way to answer 'why MBA' is to relate it to your past achievements, interests, and strengths.
5. How do I choose my MBA specialisation?
Your choice of MBA specialisation should be determined by your career goals, skills, and interests.