A complete guide to Cornell MBA interview

1. Introduction to the Cornell MBA interview

Cornell MBA interviews are ‘invitation only’ which means that applicants are invited for an interview after they have successfully submitted their application.

If you’re reading this article, you probably already have an interview invite. Congrats!

This is a complete guide to help you ace your Cornell MBA interview.

To start with, here’s what an interview invite email from Cornell reads:

“The Admissions Committee has completed a preliminary review of your application materials and is pleased to invite you to schedule an interview as the next step in the admissions process.

Our admissions interview has been carefully designed to create the opportunity for us to get to know you better.  Admissions interviews are conducted at Cornell’s Ithaca campus Monday through Friday between the hours of 9:00 am – 4:15 pm.  In addition to completing your interview, we encourage you to make the most of your visit to campus and invite you to connect with current students, faculty, and staff during your time on campus.  Please visit our Admissions Events page to learn more about our daily information sessions, class visit program, and weekly Sage Social gatherings.”

As mentioned, Cornell MBA interviews are conducted on the campus. However, they also have an option of Skype interviews for international applicants that find it difficult to be available on campus for the interview.

It is always recommended to go for a face to face interview as this is a more natural experience and your impact on the interviewer is more personal. At Cornell, interviews are either conducted by an Admissions Officer or a specially trained second year student.

Cornell MBA interviews are not built to put an applicant under pressure. The aim of the interview is to judge if the applicant is a good fit with the school and is acquainted with the ways of the school.

Accordingly, Cornell MBA interviews are generally blind interviews. This implies that the interviewer most likely will not have gone through your complete profile in detail. At max, they would have gone through a few pointers or notes on your profile. Hence, interviews are also generally more conversational.

This doesn’t mean that there is no direction to the interview. Applicants have often reported that the interviewers come with a list of questions or areas that they want to cover during the interview. The interviewer is expected to report back these points to the admissions committee. This is also why you can expect your interviewer to be taking notes while taking your interview.

2. What is Cornell looking for in its MBA applicants?

Now that you know the basic mechanics of the interview, the next step is to prepare for the interview. The first step is to understand what the school is looking for.

There are some things that every MBA school looks for:

  1. Why do you want to do an MBA and how an MBA fits in your career plans.
    If you’re going to invest 2 years of your life and spend a significant amount of money on doing an MBA, you better have a clear idea of why you want to do it and what you’re trying to achieve.

  2. Your skills such as leadership, team management, ethics and other personal attributes that define a leader.
    Every school looks for a leader. MBAs are all about making the future leaders of tomorrow. Cornell interviews are also focused towards judging your leadership potential.

  3. Your story and uniqueness.
    Your stories are what make you unique. B schools are looking for the diversity and exposure that you bring to your class. Make sure that you have anecdotes prepared for all of the main questions asked during the interview.

This is what comprises the ‘fit’ aspect of the MBA interview, where your interviewer tries to assess if you would fit well with the culture of the school.

Cornell maintains a small batch size and close knit community. The Johnson network is known for being almost like a family. Hence, you’re expected to answer how you will contribute to the Johnson network during and after your MBA term.

3. Cornell MBA Interview Questions

The questions that can be expected at the Cornell MBA interview deserve a separate article of their own.

And that’s why, we have developed a separate document that is a compilation of all the possible questions asked in Cornell interviews. These interview experiences have been shared by former Cornell applicants.

Not only that, we have also added tips shared by successful candidates that will help you prepare answers to these interview questions.

You can download the document here.

4. Cornell MBA interview practice with Cornell students and alumni

At last, now that you are well versed with the interview, its format and the expected questions, the only thing left for you to do is practice. Make sure that you practice well before you appear for your final Cornell MBA interview. After all, practice makes you perfect.

For this, you should take mock interviews specifically with students and alumni of Cornell as they have been through this journey and are Johnson MBA students/graduates. Their perspective is the same as that of the final interviewer. They can ask you the ‘right questions’ and challenge your MBA story in the same way as the interviewers will. In addition, their feedback will help you shape your answers to be more credible and in line with the interviewer’s expectations.

If you wish to connect directly with the students and alumni of Cornell to practice mock interviews, you should visit MBA Sage. It’s a platform that does exactly that. The website has advanced filters to help you browse through the profiles of many Cornell MBA students and alumni. You can find your match and engage a student/alumnus for your practice session.

To browse the profiles of Cornell MBAs and book a mock interview, click here:

5. Conclusion

No challenge is impossible and with enough research and practice, you are definitely going to crack the interview. One last thing to remember is that, if the school has selected your profile and has selected you for an interview, it means that you already have the right profile and credentials to be a Cornell MBA.

You’re 75% through the journey already.

The Cornell MBA interview is only a formal process where the school is trying to meet you and understand if you are the same person as in the application you have submitted.


Edited at MBA SAGE
We write content on MBA Sage to help applicants with their MBA admissions. If you liked this article, please feel free to share it with other applicants and help them in their MBA admissions journey.
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