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Q&A with Student Interviewers at Cornell / Johnson

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Corey Minerva, Two-year Ithaca MBA ’19

Corey Minerva, Two-year Ithaca MBA ’19

Pre-MBA work experience (industry, years): After graduating from Cornell’s School of Hotel Administration, I worked for seven years at Empire Merchants LLC, the largest wine and spirits distributor in the metro New York area. I completed a three-year management-training program before becoming a business manager focusing on fine wine and luxury spirits portfolios. As a business manager, I was responsible for managing the gross profit performance of my portfolios.

Post-MBA plans: I will be working at Guggenheim Securities as an Investment Banking Associate in Manhattan.

Why did you want to join the Johnson Admissions Group (JAG)?
I wanted to be a part of JAG because I enjoy interacting with prospective students, and I believe it is a very impactful way to contribute to the Johnson community. As a first-year student, I was a member of the Campus Visit Ambassadors. I spent time with prospective students through “Coffee & Convos” and class visits. Moving from an Ambassador to JAG allowed me to continue to connect with prospective students and helped directly shape the future Johnson class.

Can you tell me about the training to become part of JAG?
Training really starts during the application process for JAG. We not only complete an application form, but also conduct a mock interview, including a write-up. The mock interview and write-up are used to assess our interview skills and serve as our first formal feedback. After being accepted as a JAG, we participate in a group training to discuss the goals of an admissions interview, protocols, and operational instructions. JAGs also attend “Trivia Night,” which is a fun way to learn some key facts and figures about Johnson and Cornell. This is helpful because it covers answers to applicants’ commonly asked questions.

Before being approved to conduct interviews on our own, JAGs observe interviews with an admissions officer and then conduct an interview while being observed by an officer. There’s a debrief after both interviews to receive feedback and to make sure JAGs have the same takeaways as the officer. Lastly, JAGs meet with an admissions officer throughout the year to receive ongoing feedback and review decision outcomes for candidates we’ve interviewed.

What are some of the most common questions you ask during an interview OR is there a question (or two) you always make sure to ask during the interview?
At the end of an interview, I always ask the candidate if there’s anything else he or she would want me or the admissions committee to know that we didn’t already cover. Even during some of the best interviews, it’s possible that we didn’t cover something that the candidate really wants to convey. So, asking this question is a way to make sure a candidate can share everything he or she thinks is important to highlight to Johnson.

What is the biggest mistake you’ve seen during an interview?
When candidates don’t directly answer the question being posed, it forces the interviewer to re-ask the question or reword the question. This can make the interview less conversational and potentially less enjoyable for both sides.

What stands out to you most during an interviewpositively and negatively?
I find that most good interviews tend to be conversational, but still cover all of the key topics. I generally leave an interview feeling positive if the interview flows well and there is a logical connection between three main questions: why now for an MBA; what are your professional goals; and, why is Johnson the right program to help you achieve your goals?

What advice would you give to candidates for the interview at Johnson?
My advice is to prepare enough so that you feel confident, but don’t try to memorize answers. I really don’t think interviewers are asking any “trick questions,” so if a candidate prepares for the logical questions, he or she should be able to deliver the answer confidently and have an enjoyable conversation with the interviewer.

Anything else you would like to add?
Make sure to build in time before or after the interview to explore Sage Hall, attend a class, or meet with current students to get a sense of the tight-knit and welcoming Johnson community.

Here are links to two resource pages:

Connect with Students:

Community Search Tool:

Clear Admit Resources
As you work on your Cornell MBA essays and application, we encourage you to consider all of Clear Admit’s Cornell / Johnson offerings:

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.