How to pass your Columbia Business School MBA admissions interview

Congratulations! 

You have been invited

to interview with

 

... Now what? 

 

Here are a few quick tips to get your started preparing for your Columbia Business School MBA admissions interview

 



 

 

Prepare early, and often

Start preparing right after you apply. My clients who apply in July, August and September are often invited within two weeks of submitting applications. Those who apply in November and December might take longer, more like one month. 

Even if Columbia does not invite you to interview, the preparation will help with other schools. Since Columbia interviews are conducted by alumni, I encourage you to start your self-study by using my "mirror method"


 

 

 

Respond quickly

Once you get invited to interview, do NOT take too long in deciding whom to contact regarding for your Columbia Business School alumni interview. As CBS admissions says, 

We strongly suggest that you arrange your interview within two weeks of this invitation and complete your interview within one month from today. Keep in mind that in a rolling admissions process, it will be to your advantage to schedule your interview for the earliest date convenient for both you and your Ambassador.

 


 

 

Columbia matters most to Columbia.

 

Why?

 

Yield

 

  • A friend of mine conducts interview Columbia alumni interviews in the United States

  • He recently showed me the interview criteria that Columbia asks him to use when evaluating applicants

  • As I read it, I noticed that Columbia asks interviewers to evaluate how interested you are in the school

  • In fact, they mention it several times

  • Columbia asks its alumni to confirm your interest and commitment to Columbia in order to protect its yield, which is around 72% (vs 90% at HBS)

 


 

 

 

Q: Why Columbia?

A: Location, location, location.

 

  • One of my clients chose Columbia over Stanford GSB because he wanted to pursue a career in the art industry after graduation

  • Stanford may want to become a leading arts center, but they cannot compete with New York City

  • Think of a reason why you MUST go to NYC for your MBA

  • How does being there for two years best prepare you to achieve your goals?

  • Then, be sure to mention the people and student culture that reinforce your learning objectives and maximize your opportunities to achieve your post MBA goals

  • Talk about how the CBS alumni that you know fit your personality

    • Mention how they used the degree to achieve their goals

    • Then, draw a logical line that shows why CBS is also the best place for you

 

 


 


 

 

 

COLUMBIA INTERVIEW QUESTIONS

FREQUENCY ANALYSIS

 

Frequency Analysis of Columbia Business School Interview Questions 

  Based on a sampling of interviews conducted with Japan-based applicants  
1 Question #
2 Walk me through your resume. 6
3 What are your goals?   5
4 Why MBA? 10
5 Why now? 2
6 Why Columbia? What makes Columbia different for you? 14
7 What other schools are you applying to? 7
8 What kind of specific lectures/fields are you interested in? 2
9 What are your contributions to Columbia? 3
10 Tell me about one significant leadership experience. 2
11 Describe "leadership" for you with 3 key words. 2
12 Tell me your 3 strengths and weaknesses 2
13 Tell me your story of ethical dilemma and what kind of lessons you learned. 3
14 Is there any other thing you want to add? 2
15 Any questions? 6

 

 


 

 

 

COMMON CBS MBA INTERVIEW QUESTIONS

My colleagues, Steve Green and Jessica King have provided me with a list of common questions:

 

WHY CBS / WHY MBA

  • Walk me through your resume.  (Pick and probe content)
  • Explain your professional progression up until now and why you need an MBA?.
  • Why an MBA?
  • Why now?
  • Why Columbia?
  • Where else did you apply?
  • What criteria did you use when choosing schools to which to apply?
  • What will you do if you don't get in anywhere else?
  • What will you contribute to Columbia?
  • What makes you unique from other (financiers / salesmen / IT specialists, etc.) applying to Columbia? 
  • What other steps have you taken to prepare yourself for your goal?
  • Are there any red flags you think the adcom will find in your candidacy?

 

PROFESSIONAL SKILLS AND SITUATIONS

  • How do you work in teams? Have you ever been in a leadership role?
  • What is your management/leader style? Give an example.
  • Example of a major mistake and how you dealt with it.
  • Example of leading a team.
  • Example of contributing to a team.
  • Example of a challenging team/group situation.
  • Example of an adversity/challenge and what you learned from it.
  • Biggest professional accomplishment/achievement.
  • What was an ethical dilemma you've faced, and what did you do about it? (Follow up with q’s like “What would you do differently?”)
  • Describe a time, either professionally or academically, when you witnessed others behaving unethically--what did you do about it?

 

ANALYTICAL ABILITY / CURRENT EVENTS

  • Tell me about a technology trend and how it will affect business. (Since I talked a lot about wanting to apply my knowledge of tech trends to my career) 
  • What is the impact of the financial crisis on the XXX industry?
  • Topical questions about the current financial crisis, etc.
  • Anything related to interviewee’s field:  Future or real estate, health care, etc.

 

 

PERSONAL

  • What do you do in your free time?
  • What do you get excited about? What turns you on?
  • Why? (sports, hobbies etc.)
  • Tell me something unique about yourself.
  • What are 5 adjectives that describe your interpersonal skills and communication style?

 

 

 

Six steps to Columbia Business School MBA interview success

 

  • I provide school-specific training for Columbia Business School interviews

  • Please follow the six sign-up steps below if you would like to secure my time

     

 

 

 

STEP ONE

CONTACT ME

AT LEAST 10 DAYS

BEFORE YOUR INTERVIEW

 

  • Please complete my intake form

  • 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

 
 

 

 

 

STEP TWO

DECIDE HOW

MANY SESSIONS

YOU WANT

 

  • One Columbia Business School mock interview training session lasts 60 minutes

  • We spend the last 30 minutes reviewing your answers

  • I can help you brainstorm more effective ways to answer the questions I asked

  • Finally, if time permits, we can discuss other types of questions that might be of concern to you

 

 

Not sure how many sessions you need?

  • Most of my successful clients practice Columbia Business School interviews with me for at least 3 hours (three sixty minute sessions)

  • Some need as little as 1 hour (one sixty minute session), which is my minimum charge

  • Others practice for 5 hours or more (five sixty minute sessions)

 


 

 

 

 

STEP THREE

ARRANGE PAYMENT 

 
 
 
 
HOW TO PAY
  • Clients in Japan pay Agos via bank transfer or cash

  • Clients outside Japan pay Agos via PayPal

 

 

 

 

STEP FOUR

SCHEDULE OUR FIRST SESSION

TO OCCUR AT LEAST 5 DAYS

BEFORE YOUR COLUMBIA INTERVIEW

 

  • Once payment clears, I will give you access to my Google Calendar 

    • All times are JST (Tokyo time)

    • If you do not find a convenient time, please email me several options

    • I will do my best to accommodate

 

  • Please follow my cancellation policy

    • If necessary, requests to reschedule appointments should be made at least 24 hours in advance of the originally scheduled appointment time

    • Rescheduling requests made less than 24 hours prior to an appointment will be granted at Vince’s discretion

 
 

 

 

 

 

STEP FIVE

SEND ME YOUR RESUME

 

After reviewing your resume, I will prepare a custom list of questions to fit your case.

 

  • I ask questions that test your ability to discuss issues that might be of concern to Columbia Business School interviewers

  • I also assess your communication skills

 
 
After your interview, I will destroy all hard and soft copies to maintain client confidentiality
 
 

 

 

STEP SIX

PRACTICE BEFORE and

AFTER EACH SESSION

 

  • Final tip for applicants in Japan: you should prepare for some portion of the interview to be conducted in Japanese. This might the case in other non-English-speaking counties, as well. 

 

 

 

- Updated by Vince on Fri 30 Sep 2016

 

 


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"You encouraged me to be genuine, and helped me find the right, true stories that captured who I am. In this way, you offer applicants not only an effective admissions advisory, but also a unique journey of self discovery and empowering dreams."

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