Columbia MBA Interview Questions 2023-24
Updated: Oct 27
Interview season is here!
If you're applying to Columbia Business School, you can expect to hear if you've made it to the interview stage in the coming weeks.
Ranked as the #1 MBA program globally by the Financial Times in 2023, CBS is a competitive school with an acceptance rate of 22%. While it’s promising that you secure an interview invite, your application journey is only half way to the finish line. For a successful admit, you’ll need to spend time revisiting your school research and application essays, learn about the Columbia MBA interview process, the questions they ask, and the answers they are looking for.
In this CBS MBA interview guide, we’ll run you through the different aspects of the CBS MBA interview process, including questions previous applicants were asked and our top tips to help you nail the MBA interview.
The CBS MBA Interview Process
The Columbia Business School MBA interview is typically 45 minutes long. Only a selected pool of applicants is invited to interview at CBS. In most cases, your interviewer will be an alum residing in or around your region. Before your interview, the school will connect you with them to schedule a convenient time and venue. You may also meet the interviewer via Zoom, Skype, or other video chat platforms. In case the school is unable to match you with an alum, you’ll be invited to a virtual interview conducted by a current student or an AdCom Officer.
The CBS interview is a blind interview. This means that your interviewer will meet you without having read your application material in advance. This gives them a fresh perspective on your profile. If you wish, you can share your resume with them beforehand so that they have some context of your experience and skills. This also means that any information you’ve shared in your CBS essays can be explored again in your interview, giving you the chance to elaborate on some of the stories you’ve already worked on. As the interviewer hasn’t thoroughly combed through your application (unlike in the HBS interview), it’s less likely that you’ll get planned questions about your written essays.
Overall, the tone of the interview is conversational and relaxed. The interviewer is usually friendly, empathetic, and keen to understand your aspirations and fit with the school. The questions you’ll be asked won’t come from a list that the interviewer tries to sprint through. In most cases, the interview will be a natural conversation going back and forth between you and your interviewer, with some follow-up questions to understand your answers better.
What CBS is Looking For
The Columbia Business School is located in New York City, offering unparalleled access to leaders from different industries and real-world exposure to firms across NYC. The school looks for driven people from diverse backgrounds who have a demonstrated record of leadership, the ability to collaborate effectively in dynamic situations, and achievement. With this MBA, CBS hopes to nurture individuals who not only create value for their stakeholders but also for the broader society.
So, your interviewer will be eager to understand how you fit into the diverse mosaic of NYC, your intellectual curiosity, respect for others’ opinions and perspectives, innovation mindset, and the bold ideas that you can back up with data.
Generally, CBS interviews take place during the following periods:
Early-to-mid February 2024
Mid-to-late April 2024
The school will send you a more specific timetable once you submit your MBA application.
CBS MBA Interview Questions 2023 - 2024
At Sam Weeks Consulting, we had several clients secure interviews with Columbia Business School last year and in Round 1 of 2023. From these clients, we have compiled the following questions that you may be asked in your Columbia interview:
Walk me through your resume.
Tell me about yourself.
Tell me about your short-term and long-term goals.
What is your dream company, and why?
What is your alternative plan if you don’t get into business school
What is your plan B if you fail to secure a job in your desired industry/function?
If you fail to secure a job in your Plan A or Plan B role, what will be your next step?
How will being in New York City help you in achieving your goals?
Tell me about some challenges and obstacles you foresee in the time you pursue your MBA.
Tell me what you would do in the last week at work before you retire.
About the School
Why the CBS MBA?
What’s going to be difficult for you at CBS?
Why ‘X’ club at CBS?
How will you add value to the ‘X’ club at CBS?
Are there any classes that you find particularly interesting?
What kind of people do you look forward to meeting at CBS?
How do you think you’ll contribute to the culture at Columbia?
How will you make a positive impact on Columbia’s campus?
How will a CBS MBA help you launch your own entrepreneurial venture?
How will you use the CBS MBA to make a career transition from ‘X’ to ‘Y’?
How will you use your previous professional experience in the CBS classroom?
How do you incorporate diversity and diverse perspectives into a team setting?
Tell me about a time when you received critical feedback.
Tell me about a time when you used a data-driven approach to help you on a project.
Tell me about the top leadership qualities you value or strive to emulate.
How do you approach diversity as a leader?
A Chance to Bring Something Up
Is there anything important about your profile that we didn't mention?
Is there anything else not on your resume or application that you want the AdCom to know?
Tips to Ace the CBS MBA Interview
Based on our experience with hundreds of clients before you, here are our top tips to nail the CBS interview:
Don’t assume the interviewer will know and understand what you’re talking about. Since this is a blind interview, they will be hearing about your current role, responsibilities, challenges, goals, and passion for the first time, especially if you haven’t shared your resume in advance. So, ensure that you give them enough context.
Avoid using industry jargon or acronyms, particularly if your interviewer does not have work experience in your industry. And your company might call functions or processes differently. So we recommend you err on the side of simplicity. If the interviewer wants more detail, they’ll ask.
Use the SCAR method to structure your stories. This will help you share key points of information while also keeping your answer concise and logical.
In several cases, interviewees have reported that the interviewer didn’t delve too deep into behavioral questions during their interview. Instead, they stuck to core questions about the applicant’s profile, goals, motivations and the CBS MBA, with a lot of follow up questions. While this may not be the case for you, make sure you are thoroughly familiar with the core narrative you’ve developed during the essay brainstorming and writing process.
For more interview advice and to practice with mock interviews, check out the Interview Guide course on MBAConsultant.com.
Thinking of applying to the Columbia MBA? Book a free chat today.