Contact Vince

See for information about Vince's services.

I provide the most intensive, effective MBA interview preparation service in the world. My interview coaching clients get results because I help them figure out what to say (logical content), and how to say it (impressive delivery).

I teach some of the world's top engineers and scientists at The University of Tokyo how to present their ideas on paper and in person.

I am a professional stage actor who has performed with The American Shakespeare Center.
At Stanford, I studied improv theatre with Patricia Ryan Madson, who has taught everyone from college students to Silicon Valley executives from companies like Google how to tell believable stories.

I provide one-hour mock interview sessions with feedback. I also provide extended multi-hour training. We begin with an initial diagnostic mock interview, which helps me determine your strengths and weaknesses. In subsequent sessions, we can work on strategy, answer modeling, and mock interviewing.

For Vince's latest tips, plus service details, please go here. Then, please contact Vince when you are ready to start your preparation.

Monday, August 30, 2010

The Stanford Interview

Stanford says:


Your admission interview is both evaluative and informative: it is not only an opportunity for us to learn more about you, but also for you to learn more about Stanford.

Our goal is for the interview to be a positive exchange of ideas and information.
We use the information derived from the interview in context, just as we use all other information in the application process.

The interview focuses on past actions rather than on hypothetical situations. The primary questions revolve around attitudes, behaviors, and skills that we believe are key to good citizenship in the Stanford community and vital to high-impact leadership post-MBA.

We ask you to reflect on your personal and professional experiences, what you've learned about yourself, and how best to lead people and manage situations.
You'll probably surprise even yourself with the many ways you've demonstrated leadership in your life; take advantage of this opportunity to think about the people, situations, and events that have shaped you.
If you are invited to interview, the MBA Admissions Office will contact you via email.
Approximate Interview Schedule
Round 1 Early September to late November If you are offered a place in the waitpool without an interview, you may be interviewed after you accept your spot in the waitpool.
Round 2 Mid-December to mid- March
Round 3 Early April to mid-May

Interview Process

All interviews are by invitation only and almost all are conducted by alumni near where you live or work. Candidates invited to interview have been reviewed by the Committee on Admissions and are considered competitive for admission.
We do not have resources to interview every applicant to the Stanford MBA Program, but we will interview every candidate who is offered admission to the class. We expect to interview between 800 and 1,000 applicants this year.
  • We will contact you via email or phone.
  • Do not call or contact our office to request an interview.
  • After you receive an invitation, you and your interviewer will set up a mutually convenient date and time to meet.
  • If you are offered a place in the waitpool without an interview, you may be interviewed after you accept your spot in the waitpool.
  • We do not provide interview feedback.

Stanford GSB Interview Reports

Stanford adcoms give alumni interviewers a set range of topics from which they chose specific questions. Here are some recent reports from interviewed clients I helped.

2009 R2

Stanford Interview Log
Mr. X X (Real Estate Investment Management, Country Manager)
Mar 18th 15:10-16:00

[Process and Questions]
A very short small-talk was followed by instructions that he will be very straightforward in evaluating the interview, and that interview is part of the overall evaluation process. 

He brought with him a booklet named Stanford GSB Standard Interview Questions (or something like that), and a 2 page evaluation sheet with lots (more than 20) of 5 level forms. He was generous not to box-tick in front of the interviewee during the session. 

He strengthened that interview is an opportunity to know the applicant better, and also for the applicant to know the school better. He mentioned it will be a 45 min session, and started.

His Questions
  • Why MBA
  • What episode made you think so?
  • Why Stanford?
  • Example of leading a team.
  • Example of when a member of a team lags behind by either ability or participation, and what would you do? What do you think is important in that situation?
  • When were you most challenged, how did you get through with it?
  • What is your definition of a good leader?
  • How does your boss evaluate you?
  • Describe when your belief was most challenged?

He asked quite a number of behavioral questions.
I was not sure to take a completely STAR approach or to color more with personal background stories (especially on beliefs question), but looking at the time, I felt I would do better with the latter for some. 

2008 R1

(English @ beginning)
  1. Why MBA, Why Stanford..
  2. (Part of why MBA) You said Difficulty and Limitation to interact with top management (People different from me)..Can you share your experience? How did you deal with difficulty?
  3. You said that you have to motivate people as a turnaround manager? How do you motivate people? What is your style?
  4. Why do you think you have this style of motivating people? Why do you have such a style?
  5. When my ethics, values were challenged How did you respond?
  6. Books you read (Non-business) Why did you read? (I said my friend recommended me)..Why do you think he recommended you this book?
  7. Leadership experiences outside your career
  8. You started up some discussion group? What is that? Why did you start?
  9. Any questions?
(Japanese @ end)
  • Long term career goal (Kind of dream..)
  • Clarification about Why Stanford (I said one reason is people) What do you mean by people more in detail?
  • Alumni you met..
  • Current students you met..
  • Admission staff you met..
  • How did you feel by interacting with them?
  • Which schools did you apply in addition to Stanford?
  • What is your impression about Stanford community?
  • Any questions?
I thought he asked "why" and "how" many times.

Interview went quite well but, he told me honestly at the end of interview he was told by admission to make comfortable environment, so I think most applicants have comfortable interviews


Alumni Interview
19:00-20:00 (1h)
1.      Why MBA?
2.      Leadership style
3.      Accomplishment and why do you recognize the experience as accomplishment?
4.      Failure experience
5.      Sever feedback and your reaction
6.      strengths and weaknesses
7.      Teamwork experience
8.      Activities and What motivates you about the activities 


I took the Stanford's interview on Tuesday, Feb 20.

My interviewer, an alumnus, class of 2001, was very smart, gentle, and calm, but he knew Japanese financial and banking industry very much because he had worked in MINISTRY and INVESTMENT BANK both in Tokyo and New York office. He especially knew the level of Japanese banks performance in the U.S. For him, therefore, my story itself might not be very persuasive and impressive. However, he talked about his experiences and influence his two years in Stanford had very candidly. Finally, we had about 90 minutes interview, approximately 30 minutes in English, and 60 minutes in Japanese.

Stanford Interview Question Analysis

Frequency of Questions Asked
1 Based on a somewhat random sampling of reports from the past 7 years
2 Please introduce yourself. 2
3 Please tell me about your job. 2
4 Why did you choose this career? 2
5 What is your career goal? 3

Why MBA? 6
8 Tell me about an experience where you felt that an MBA experience would benefit you. 2
9 Why Stanford? 8

11  What do you think are the most important traits of a leader.? 7
12 Please give me example of leading a team. 7
13 Please describe a situation where you showed teamwork. 3

15  Please tell me about your accomplishment and the reason you recognize the experience as accomplishment. 3
16 Have you ever failed at doing something?  What did you learn from that  failure and how did you incorporate it into your actions thereafter? 5

18  When were you most challenged, how did you get through with it? 2
19 When my ethics, values were challenged, how did you respond? 2

21  Tell me about your personality/personal qualities. 2
22 Tell me about your strength and weakness. 2

24  Tell me about constructive feedback you received and your reaction on that. 2

26  Tell me about books you read (Non-business). Why did you read the book? 3

28  Any questions? 5

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Stanford GSB Interview Questions

When applying to the Stanford GSB, a bunch of my friends came up with common interview questions for the admissions process. At Stanford, you have to be interviewed to get accepted. They interview only about 25% of applicants so getting an interview is a good sign! Hopefully this non-official list of Stanford GSB interview questions helps:

Stanford Specific Questions
  1. Tell me about your background. Why do you want to change from your current career? What do you want to do? Why? And how will the Stanford MBA help.
  2. Why do you want to go back to school?
  3. Why Stanford?
  4. Clubs you’d be interested in joining at Stanford?
  5. What other schools did you apply to and why Stanford?
  6. If you don’t get an MBA offer, what will you do?
  7. What value you can bring to Stanford?
  8. What are your Long-term/Short-term goals?
Leadership / Team Work
  1. Tell me about how you dealt with someone who was terrible to work with and how you handled it
  2. Tell me about a leadership experience you’ve had.
  3. Tell me about a time you’ve failed – what did you do?
  4. Tell me about a time you were in a team and achieved a great outcome
  5. Tell me about a time when you displayed leadership.
  6. What is you leadership style?
  1. A book you’ve read recently and what you learned from it.
  2. What books have you read that were unrelated to work?
  3. Tell me about something you are interested in outside of work – why does this excite you?
  4. What questions do you have for me? (this was w/ about 15 minutes left, so is important to have good questions)

My colleague, H. Steven Green, has put the following together by reviewing interview reports:

Take me through your resume. (Probe how decisions were made, e.g. to change positions or jobs, the biggest professional challenge it was addressed, and biggest accomplishment)
Tell me what you do for fun -- or some interesting books that you've read
Tell me about your background/walk me through your resume.
Tell me a bit about yourself
What extracurricular activity are you most proud of?
What did you take away from your undergraduate experience?
What did you like about your undergrad? Why don't you want to go there for your MBA?
What do you like to do outside of work?
Tell me about your international experience.
What is your favorite place you’ve traveled?
What is your company’s strategy?  Is it succeeding?

Walk me through your resume
Why MBA / Why now
Why Stanford
Career goals?
Tell me about a major goal that you have set for yourself. What have you done to achieve your goal? (Led to a follow-up question directly related to my career goals)
What would you do as a Plan B if your first choice for your career didn't work out?
Tell me about a specific time when you realized you needed an MBA.
How would you decide between schools if you got into multiple MBA programs?
What will you bring that is unique to the program?
How will you contribute to Stanford?
What are your short-term goals? Long-term goals?
Where else have you applied? How have those worked out?
Explain how you are ready for academic rigor.

Tell me about a time when you went beyond the realm of your authority on a project. What was the result?
Tell me about a time where there was not a defined leader and you took on that role
Tell me about a time that you did something that was innovative / transformed your team
(Probe: For example, ask how convinced team to follow given junior level)
Tell me about a time that you really led a team
Tell me about a time when you made an impact. How did people respond to that? What was the long term result?
Tell me about a time when you worked on a really analytical project. What was the result and how was it used in your organization?
Tell me about a time when you went beyond your immediate realm of authority. How did you get the authority to do that?
Tell me about a time when you went beyond the realm of your authority on a project. What was the result?
Tell me about a time when you identified a problem and solved it. How did you get people to use your solution? How did senior level people react to your solution?
Tell me about a time when you had to take authority of a team
What is your leadership style? Tell about a time you streamlined operations/made things more efficient? What did you do?  How did you measure its success?  What metrics did you use?

Tell me about a piece of important feedback you received and why you think that it was the most important feedback you received
Tell me about a time when others have pointed out a weakness of yours.
Tell me about the most valuable piece of feedback you've ever received. How did it change your relationship with that individual? Why was it important?
What is a valuable piece of feedback you have received?
Tell me about a time when you received constructive criticism. What did you learn?

Tell me about a challenging work environment and how did you respond?
 Tell me about a challenging work experience? What did you learn?
Tell me about someone difficult to work with that was in a position above you and what you learned from it.
Tell me about a time when you took initiative and developed a project.
Tell me about a time when you didn't agree with an idea. How did you work to reach a resolution? Tell me about a time when you dealt with a problematic person, what was the situation and how did you react? What was the result?
Tell me about when you've dealt with a problematic person and what you said and did to resolve that. How did that person respond? What do you think others on the team thought about you playing that role?
Tell me about a time things didn’t go according to plan and you failed? What did you learn from it?

What did you learn from a failure?
Tell me about an individual or group failure.
Tell me about a time when you failed. What did you learn from that event and how have you implemented what you learned from that failure?
How do you deal with failure?

Name a book that you've read recently that was not for work. We then discussed that book.
What is your favorite book that is not work related?
What are your 3 favorite books?

Tell me about what inspires you.
Is there anything you’ve done merely out of passion?
If money were not an issue, what cause would you pursue most vigorously?
Tell me about a time you wanted to give up but found the motivation to keep going?
What is your greatest accomplishment?
Tell me about a time you had to make a trade-off between two equally attractive opportunities?

Are there any questions that I did not ask that you think I should have asked or pieces of information you think are critical for me to know?
What questions do you have for me?

As you can see, the questions are pretty standard. Expect some behavioral style questions and prepare accordingly.

You need to be able to explain in-depth why you should be admitted to Stanford, what you can contribute, and what you want to learn. Be willing to openly discuss what soft and hard skills you need to improve/acquire. Show yourself to be open, dynamic, change oriented, and a highly motivated person because the alum will be.

Since there is supposed to be time for you to ask questions to the alum, you need to give some significant thought to formulating those. Consider what year the alum graduated and any other background information if you can determine that through Linkedin or other sources of information. Develop four or more questions to ask.

Whoever you interview with, they are likely to be quite friendly and the style of the interview is conversational. Stanford alumni are provided with very clear guidelines for how to conduct interviews. Just because your interviewer is friendly, it does not mean that you are doing well. Don't assume a friendly interviewer is not actually a super critical one. Alumni are the gatekeepers and Stanford can afford to reject anyone. Take nothing for granted. Also keep in mind that the admissions process at Stanford is holistic and a great interview is no absolute guarantee of success.

Reported interview length for interviews is official 45 minutes, but can go on for longer than that. It usually consists of 30-40 minutes of questions from the alumni followed by 5-15 minutes of question to the alum, but often the interviews go longer, an hour or more is not uncommon. In my own experience with clients, I would say that if the interview goes for an hour or more, that is a good sign, but a 45 minute interview is not necessarily a bad sign. Interviews that last 75 minutes to 120 minutes are not uncommon.


-Updated by Vince on 14 March 2012


  • I am a graduate admissions consultant who works with clients worldwide

  • If you want my help preparing for your interview, please email

  • Let me know when you plan to interview and when you want to practice with me

  • I will confirm if I have the capacity to help you

  • My interview service details and fees are here

  • Please note that initial consultations are not offered for interview training