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Admissions Director Q&A: Judi Byers of Cornell University’s S.C. Johnson Graduate School of Management

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CA: You shared a fair amount of information about interviews when you were giving the overview of the admissions process. But could you provide three top pieces of advice that you would offer a candidate who’s preparing for his or her Johnson interview?

JB: Firstly, regardless of who it is that’s conducting your interview, certainly put your best foot forward. Make sure that you are presenting and conveying the types of things that you really want to share with the person who is interviewing.

Our admissions interviews at Johnson are really not meant to be a maze or a trap of some particular sort. We are really interested in getting to know you as an individual. Seeing how it is that you will fit into the program and how you see yourself being able to contribute. As a tip, I would encourage candidates to think carefully and thoughtfully about how they see themselves fitting as well as how they see themselves contributing. Both are very important to us as we are making decisions and assembling the entirety of the incoming class.

Secondly, when you’re sitting across from whoever is interviewing you, really remember to take a breath, be authentic, and communicate the things that will really help us to get to know you, versus what it is that you think that we want to hear. We have all spent time really getting to know you through reviewing your application materials. And so I would encourage candidates keep in mind, that by the time you get to the conversation, we recognize enough potential in you as a candidate that we are really looking to get to know you more closely. Should you start to feel a little bit more on edge during the interview process, take a breath, relax, and just focus on having the conversation about the things that we are interested in getting to know a little bit more about.

The last piece of advice is to be thoughtful about the things that you have researched in regards to the Johnson community in particular. You can tell when someone really has taken the time to get to know the program, and the types of experiences and resources they will have access to. That applies to really any MBA; make certain that you just connect the right dots with the right points, with regard to the programs that you are speaking to.

CA: You have talked about some changes in the admissions process in terms of a commitment to even more transparency going forward, as well as the new essay that you rolled out. Are there other changes in the works in the year ahead or things that you are considering longer term?

JB: Yes. Some of the additional enhancements, beyond the notification process and some of the transparencies you’ve called attention to, are around event offerings and ways that we would like to connect with candidates throughout the season.

Lauren Wakal
Lauren Wakal has been covering the MBA admissions space for more than a decade, from in-depth business school profiles to weekly breaking news and more.