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You can find a better version of my blog at http://www.adammarkus.com/blog/.

Be sure to read my Key Posts on the admissions process. Topics include essay analysis, resumes, recommendations, rankings, and more.

March 06, 2010

Cornell Johnson MBA Interviews

This post is updated from last year.

Based on my own clients' reports and those found at accepted.com and clearadmit.com, I think that there are five key things to consider when preparing for The Johnson School at Cornell University MBA interviews:

1. Interviewers use a standard list of questions according to a number of reports. My colleague, Steve Green, has compiled the following:

  • Walk me through your background / resume.
  • Why did you choose your undergraduate university/ college?
  • Tell me about your current company and what you do.
  • How has your job role changed over the years?
    • What roles have you played? 
    • What skills have you learned?
  • How did you choose your career path?
  • What do you do for fun outside of work?

  • Why an MBA
  • Why now?
  • What are your post-graduation goals?
  • Brief me about your work post-graduation? (Follow up with q’s about the “actual work”)
  • How did you choose this career path?
    • Have you done research about this path?
  • Why Cornell?
  • What are you going to learn at Johnson?
  • What Immersion Program will you join?
  • Which clubs interest you at Cornell? Why? Are you interested in leading any of them?
  • What other schools did you apply to?
  • What is the main difference between (OTHER SCHOOL) and Johnson, in your eyes?

  • Tell me about a conflict you faced in a team.
  • Example of a time when you had a conflict in team and how you reacted to it.
  • How would your teammates describe you as a member of their team?

  • Tell me about a significant leadership experience.
  • Example of a leadership situation - where you had to convince a colleague or team about something they disagreed with.
  • What 3 qualities do you believe a leader must have? Which of these is your weakest?

  • Tell me about a time you had to make a difficult decision.
  • Tell me about the most difficult professional experience you’ve ever had.
  • How do you deal with failure?
  • What are 3 adjectives you would use to describe yourself to the admissions committee?
  • What was your most innovative solution?
  • What are your 3 strongest strengths and weakness?
  • How will you work in a difficult team situation, when someone don't even care to contribute?
  • How would your friends describe you?
  • What are you reading right now?
  • What do your parents do?
  • What makes you nervous about business school?

  • Any questions for me?
See my previous post on interviewing for more about how to handle many of these questions.

2. The interviewer will only have access to your resume, so know the contents well, but assume the agenda for your interview will be set by the list of questions that interviewer has and not only by your resume.

3. I don't know nor have seen reports of any trick questions really. Be prepared to ask questions about the program. If you have an alum interview, be prepared to have a number of questions.

4. Interviewers (students, adcom, or alum) are usually try to create a friendly interview atmosphere. Some reports indicate that admissions staff were rough. I know based on reports I have heard from clients that admissions staff can be aggressive. Regardless of how your interviewer performs, just be relaxed and positive. This is an interview about fit and your own potential, so make sure you can explain in depth why you want to attend Johnson, how you will contribute to it, and what you intend to do afterwords. Previous contact with alumni, visits to campus, and/or intensive school research are all great ways to prepare.

5. Campus interviews usually last 45 minutes. Alumni interviews seem to last about 45 minutes to about an hour.

-Adam Markus

I am a graduate admissions consultant who works with clients worldwide. If you would like to arrange an initial consultation, please complete my intake form. Please don't email me any essays, other admissions consultant's intake forms, your life story, or any long email asking for a written profile assessment. The only profiles I assess are those with people who I offer initial consultations to. Please note that initial consultations are not offered when I have reached full capacity or when I determine that I am not a good fit with an applicant.
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