Ace Your Columbia Business School MBA Interview!

The Columbia Business School MBA Interview

Quick Facts 

Who does Columbia interview for their MBA?

Columbia invites a select number of applicants to interview. If you progress to the interview stage, you will be sent an email with instructions on how to set it up.

Who conducts the Columbia MBA interview?

The majority of interviews for Columbia are conducted by alumni near your location. However, if it is impossible to find a suitable alumni interviewer, Columbia will sometimes have a current student or a member of the admissions team conduct the interview. Jump ahead to read more about Columbia’s interviewers.

How long is the Columbia MBA interview?

Interviews typically last 45 minutes to an hour. Jump ahead to find out more on the interview length.

Where is the interview held?

Ideally, the Columbia Business School interview is done at a location worked out by you and your closest alumni interviewer. Part of the purpose of getting an alum who lives nearby is to allow you to interview in person without too much travel. If such a person can’t be found, Columbia will hold Skype interviews with current students or admissions officers. 

As a result of COVID-19, all interviews for the 2020-2021 admissions cycle were held virtually. Jump ahead to read more on the interview location.

What is the format?

Columbia Business School uses a blind interview approach. You may choose to give them your resume beforehand, but otherwise they will come in without any knowledge of you aside from your interest in attending the program. Jump ahead to learn more about the format.

Deadlines and Decision Schedule 

Columbia uses a rolling admissions process. There are two entry dates for successful applicants: August and January. Applicants who are looking for a January entry will be reviewed first, alongside early-decision August entry applicants, but the deadlines are not as fixed as they are with other MBA programs. You can expect to hear about whether or not you’ve been invited to the interview stage within six weeks of submitting your application.

Video Essays

Columbia Business School does not have a video essay requirement for its MBA application.

Detailed Overview

Drawing from Menlo Coaching’s extensive client database of first-hand interview reports, this section offers the most up-to-date information on Columbia’s interview process.

Interviewer profile

Columbia’s MBA interviews are typically conducted by alumni. As stated above, the alum is typically local to the applicant so that an interview can be conducted with minimal travel. In cases where this is not possible, a Skype-based interview can be conducted by an admissions team officer or a current student. Our database includes interview experiences from this last cycle that went through both processes.

As alumni, Columbia’s interviewers have a personal history with the program, and thus are able to share their own thoughts and experiences on the Columbia MBA. Several interviewees report their alumni interviewers discussing their experiences fondly or elucidating the ways in which Columbia Business School helped them get ahead in their career.

Length

Columbia MBA interviews typically fall between 45 and 60 minutes. This can be a somewhat variable experience. 

One client in this last cycle reported a 30 minute interview because of a hard stop in the interviewer’s schedule. Individual timetables and personalities will likely be the biggest contributing factor to interview length. 

Location

Alumni-conducted interviews are held at a variety of locations. Prior to the pandemic, our clients reported interviews taking place at cafes or at the offices of the alum in question. Post-pandemic interviews have all been virtual, whether with alumni, admissions officers, or current students. 

In some ways, this shift to virtual interviews makes the logistics of the interview easier. No travel is required, and applicants have complete control over their interview environment. 

As with any virtual business engagement, applicants should make sure that they have a high-speed wired Internet connection, good lighting, and that they point their computer camera at eye level.

Format

The format of the Columbia MBA interview is “blind,” meaning the interviewer does not receive a copy of the candidate’s application. Applicants do have the option of providing their resume to the interviewer to give them more to look at. One client from the 2020 cycle, however, reported that their interviewer, an admissions officer, did have a copy of their application on hand. This is not typical but may happen on occasion. 

Interview reports show that the Columbia approach is typically very conversational, laid back, and casual. One of our clients even stated that the affair was “surprisingly casual.”

A number of clients reported that there were relatively few “standard interview questions” and that the conversational back and forth and follow-up questions dominated the interview. One client reported doing most of the talking.

Columbia MBA Interview Sample Questions

This section follows the Columbia MBA interview “question-by-question,” or in rough chronological order. Like the details in the section above, these questions are sourced from Menlo Coaching’s client database of first-hand interview reports.

You can use the questions below to conduct mock interviews that mimic an actual conversation with a Columbia alumni, current student, or admissions officer. 

For best results, however, consider seeking expert help via Menlo Coaching’s interview prep service.

The Columbia MBA interview, question-by-question

  1. Introduce Yourself, or Walk Me Through Your Resume
  2. Why Columbia? Why an MBA in general?
  3. Conflict or Challenges in a Group Setting
  4. Resume-driven questions about how your current job fits into the industry
  5. Short and Long Term Career Goals
  6. What is your Plan B if your career goals don’t pan out?
  7. How Will You Get Involved, and Participate, at Columbia?
  8. Specific Questions about Extracurriculars on the resume
  9. What will you bring to Columbia? What sorts of clubs will you join?
  10. Questions for the Interviewer