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Columbia MBA Early Decision / Alumnus / Off-Campus

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The following Columbia MBA interview report was submitted to Clear Admit by an Early Decision applicant who was accepted. Congratulations to them!

I received an email from Columbia notifying me that I had been selected for an interview, and then another one with a list of six alumni (names and emails) that I could contact to set up an interview with. I was instructed to contact them one at a time, giving each two business days to respond. If I didn’t hear back, I was to move on to the next person.

After researching each person a little on LinkedIn, I ruled some out and picked a couple that seemed like we might have shared interests. One potential interviewer stood out as she had a similar experience and background to me. I emailed her but did not hear back, but before moving on, emailed her again, just to politely ask if I might contact her anyway for some advice on her experience at Columbia. At this persistence she emailed back and we agreed on an interview date in four days at her office. I emailed her my resume at that point too.

Stupidly, I was running late (unbelievably dumb) but I was able to email ahead and it didn’t seem to be an issue. She (2015 grad, working at a top 3 consultancy) conducted the interview in a meeting room in her office. I had brought a copy of my resume, but she had one printed already. The interview was really friendly and casual. She seemed genuinely interested in my background, as much as I was in her experience at CBS, and we chatted for around 40 minutes.

Within that, she prompted me to cover the following:

• My background and experience (I just gave the quick run through my resume speech)
• Why an MBA, why now, why Columbia (I gave my good reasons and then went into specifics about CBS, both courses – naming a couple of specific ones – and extra curricular, etc.)
Because of reading the interview reports on Clear Admit I had actually seen that the ‘What is your back-up plan if X&Y does not work’ was a recurring question in CBS interviews so I volunteered this info
• it all felt very natural and part of the conversation.

All in all it was a really enjoyable discussion more than an interview and made me even more eager to go to Columbia, as my interviewer was friendly, open and thoughtful too.

That evening, I got an update from the admissions system to say my interviewer had submitted a report. I emailed her to say thanks for her time again.

That was a Friday. On the next Monday morning I got a call from admissions to tell me they were offering me a place.

Tips from this experience:

1. Don’t stress too much and try and enjoy it. It’s not really an interview, rather a sense-check that you are a normal, engaged person that has thought through what you want and why.
2. Obviously know the answers to the key interview questions – talk me through your background and experience; why and MBA; why now; why CBS; and with Columbia, maybe also cover the ‘what if your plan A doesn’t pan out’ question.
3. Know the school – be able to talk in detail about what it offers, why it’s exciting to go there, have questions that are specific about the interviewers own experience there.
4. Meet with other alums (or just talk on the phone if you can’t meet) to get an idea of their experience and classes and trips they’d recommend and so on. I found CBS alums to be really open and friendly and happy to do this even if you approach them cold.
5. Wear a suit and tie – sounds silly, but my interviewer said I didn’t have to as it was casual Friday at their office. Obviously I did anyway, but I was glad I did as the place was full of suits –  casual Friday or not!
6. Don’t be late! I got in and I’m still kicking myself about that!

Thanks again to everyone for posting these and to Clear Admit for the great site. It was a really huge source of help and insight.

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