5 Interview Tips from Cornell’s Johnson School

Cornell's Johnson SchoolMany business schools will soon extend interview invitations to Round 2 candidates, so there’s no better time to absorb a few additional tips to help you navigate this all-important step in the MBA admissions process.

In a recent update to the admissions blog at Cornell’s Johnson School of Business, Christine Sneva, Director of Admissions and Financial Aid, offers targeted advice that can be useful no matter where you have applied.

Here are Johnson’s five interview tips to help you successfully convey your professionalism, interpersonal and presentation skills, and readiness for a rigorous MBA program.

1. “Dress professionally but more importantly, act it.”  Sneva points out that the admissions committee takes into consideration every communication and interaction they have with applicants as part of the selection process.

2. Be prepared to talk about your work experience.”  Your interviewer needs to know what is your “professional action plan” and which transferable skills will lead you to your goals, says Sneva, who urges applicants to structure their responses carefully and clearly so you don’t go off-topic and risk not answering the question.

3. If you know your weakness, work on it!” Sometimes, applicants become paralyzed by their weaknesses and don’t realize that they can take steps to overcome them even before sitting down to interview. Have limited quantitative experience or a low GMAT score? Consider retaking the test or or signing up for a class in accounting, managerial finance, or statistics.

Worried about poor presentation or communication skills? Sneva suggests joining a local Toastmasters Club or similar public speaking group. Planning a significant career transition? Seek out informational interviews to help you refine your career goals, or network with individuals in your desired industry, Sneva counsels.

4. If invited to interview, reach out to a current student or alum. Nothing beats advice straight from someone who has already gone through the process and lives to tell the tale.

5. Lastly, “practice, practice, practice!” If you’re under-prepared or shaking from nerves, you’ll likely be unable to fully engage in the conversation, Sneva warns. “Before going into an interview, you should always have prepared your value proposition and why you are at this point in your life/career,” she says.

Enlist the help of family and friends, and ask them to provide constructive feedback. Once you have “experienced” the interview a few times you will be more relaxed and able to focus on connecting with your interviewer and demonstrating your enthusiasm for the school.

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