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If you applied during Columbia’s early-decision cycle, you should have heard (or will hear soon) about the next step in the application process. If you are invited to interview with Columbia and live outside of the New York City Metro area, you are likely to be interviewed by a Columbia Business School alum (probably not by Warren Buffett, unfortunately).

Columbia Business School will send you a list of 2-3 alumni in your area, from which you can pick the one that you would like to interview with and schedule your interview with them via email and phone.

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Warren Buffet. Photo credit: Aaron Friedman

Warren Buffett. Photo credit: Aaron Friedman

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[/one_half]So far, reports about the off-campus Columbia MBA interviews seem to all include a list of core questions. Every year, the admissions committee at Columbia send the alumni interviewers a list of questions that they should cover during the interview session. In the past, the list included specific questions about leadership, community and teamwork. This year, the list seems to be shorter and include the following questions :

  •  Why Columbia Business School?
  • What are your current career goals?
  • What is your plan B for the short term (and summer internship)?
  • Self-introduction
  • What will you contribute to the Columbia learning team? 

The most difficult questions to answers here are clearly no. 4 (please present yourself / tell me about yourself) and no. 5 – what will you contribute to the Columbia MBA learning team.

Creating a strong and memorable introduction requires you to be able to identify your strengths and what makes you stand out from the rest of the crowd in your industry, geographic location, or educational background. The alumni will only have access to your resume;  they won’t have read your essays. Don’t even assume that they spent more than 5-15 minutes on your resume – it’s your job to impress them.

The last question, about your contribution to the Columbia MBA, is a little bit confusing. While some applicants interpret this as purely a question about your knowledge or technical skills (I’m great in math/statistics/finance and can help others), this is not the most important aspect of the question. It is about the LEARNING TEAM – how will you contribute to teams at the Columbia MBA program, whether inside the classroom or at recruiting events and conferences, in clubs and more? You should create an answer that addresses both your technical skills and the ways in which you lead and support team development and performance.

Let me prepare you for your Columbia MBA interview. Email yael@admit1mba.com to schedule your mock interview today.

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