Best Quora MBA Questions & Answers

Columbia Business School

Columbia Business School


Question: How should one prepare for the full-time MBA interview at Columbia Business School?

Stacy Blackman, MBA admissions consultant: My Columbia interview guide has the full scoop on the interview with sample questions and answers, as well as tips on how to prepare. However, here are some basics to help you get started with your prep:

1. The interview will be conducted by a Columbia alum or current student, who has been instructed on how to interview and evaluate you.

2. The interviewer will not have viewed your application — you may provide them with your resume prior to the interview.

With this in mind, you will obviously not be asked probing questions specific to your Columbia application. Rather, you will be asked behavioral questions, such as, “Tell me about a time you failed,” or “Tell me about a time you successfully managed a large team.” You will also be asked questions about your background, interests, goals, why you want to attend an MBA program, and why you want to go to Columbia.

While you should not script out your answers, you should perform several mock interviews, OUT LOUD. You can do these with a willing partner or even alone in front of a mirror. Practice answering a range of behavioral questions by leveraging a few stories that you have selected and making them fit into various answers. You should also practice discussing the basics of your resume as well as talking about your goals. Finally, be prepared with some questions for the interviewer. It is likely you will be given time to ask a few questions at the end.

Amit Ranjan, founder at Knowing a great deal about the school, the curriculum and the differentiating factors that make Columbia what it is, are key factors, but most importantly, know why you are pursuing an MBA. This is the focal point most people slip up on. Once you are confident in this, you must attach yourself to Columbia, or whatever school you are applying to, and find the synergies. Consider the preparation process as a form of dating. You are going to be in a relationship for the next two years with another party, and thus you do not want to commit yourself blindly. You want to be as happy with the choice you make as possible and ensure that you have considered yourself in relation to the other party and vice versa. Doing this means you will most likely be happier and perform better during your time in business school. See also: Columbia Interview tips by ex-Merrill and Goldman Sachs Banker.

Magnus von Koeller, MBA ’11, entrepreneur: There are a lot of things that could be said to answer this question, but let me say just one: Remember that your interviewer is just a normal alumnus of the program. They are not the admissions department and so they are not looped into the craziness that is MBA admissions. So be careful with the advice given here before me — MBA admissions consultants may know a thing or two about how to convince admissions departments, but this is different.

So I would just advise you not to be over-prepared. More than anything, be genuine and try to engage your interviewer. Don’t just give formulaic answers. Show them you’re a real, interesting person. I think about it this way: You are interviewing to be a part of my network. Why would I want you to be a part of my network? Answer that question and you’ll get a positive interview report from me.

Lizz Harrell, sales and marketing, technology, startups:

1. Start by getting really comfortable with your personal elevator pitch. You’ll be telling the same one to your classmates the first few weeks of school, and your personal story about who you are and where you come from is important.

2. Develop the angle for “Why CBS” to connect the dots from your personal story to the CBS community and experience. As a graduate, I think CBS is a very special place, and your interviewer will want to hear what aspects of CBS connect with you on a personal level.

3. Get to know your interviewer, and ask smart questions about the experience. Your interviewer will want to see evidence that you are curious about the school and passionate about making connections with the network on day one. This type of enthusiasm goes a long way!

Related question: What is it like to be an MBA student in New York City?

Cathy Wang, student, CBS: It’s extremely fun. Morningside Heights is where we go to school, and downtown is where we play during the weekends. Our events (fall ball, spring gala, alumni events) are often at iconic New York City establishments. Our weekly happy hours end up at posh nightclubs downtown, and our networking events are located at the global headquarters of the Fortune 500 firms. It’s extremely easy to have an internship during the school year, because you’re only a train ride away from most of the companies you could dream of working for. Overall, being in NYC comes hand in hand with my MBA experience. Without it, there is almost no comparative advantage of going to school in NYC.

Charles Solomon: I’ll caveat this with the fact that I grew up right outside of NYC and worked there before my Columbia MBA, but I couldn’t imagine a better place to be an MBA student than NYC. I loved studying in the Big Apple. Campus was still our central point of communication, but we had so many opportunities to intern at great companies, network with business leaders, and hang out at amazing venues. I think if I were in an MBA program that was located farther away from civilization I would’ve been bored or felt trapped. That can’t happen in NYC. Furthermore, the city is so attractive to students that many wind up staying and you have a great community that stays together long after school. I highly recommend pursuing an MBA in NYC if there is a school you feel fits you well there.

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