Below are the questions I was asked, along with my own assessment of how I think I did:
- Walk me through your resume, starting with when you graduated from college.
- My grade: B+
- I think I did a good job smoothly transitioning from experience to experience, but I also added in some stuff that wasn't asked, like why I chose my college, and why I went into the industry instead of grad school.
- Why do you want an MBA?
- My grade: A
- At the end of my answering this question, my interviewer said "wow, you have really clear goals"
- What were you looking for when you were picking business schools to apply to?
- My grade: A
- I picked one really good aspect of business school (one that Columbia happens to really care about) and made the connection between my current career, post-MBA goals, and business school.
- What about Columbia is different than the other schools you're considering?
- My grade: C
- I rambled pretty horribly here, basically restating the response from the previous question. I probably should be giving myself a C-.
- What kind of research have you done on CBS since you decided to apply to business school?
- My grade: A-
- Didn't impress anyone here, but I talked about how I visited several times and have spoken to current students and alumni. I told a funny story about how I crashed an information session with a couple of my friends.
- Tell me about a time you faced adversity in your personal or professional life.
- My grade: A+
- I picked a really significant personal experience in my life, conveyed it in a heartfelt way (I'd told this story to close friends in the past, so it came off naturally and genuinely), and discussed how it has influenced me as a person and leader. My interviewer gave me a lot praise for my response.
- What is your greatest accomplishment?
- My grade: B-
- Meh. After talking through the adversity in the previous question, my answer here kinda fell flat. I rambled quite a bit, and I think I used a little too much jargon.
- What are you like in teams?
- My grade: D- or F
- This is what most people would call a "flub". I was really thrown off by this question, and said something incredibly generic, without any examples. It's like I lost the ability to communicate for five minutes. I then ended it abruptly, and then opened my mouth as if I was about to say something. My interviewer nodded in anticipation, but nothing came out - I literally finished my response mid-sentence.
- Back-up plan?
- My grade: A-
- My backup plan was feasible, evolved clearly from my skills and experiences, and mostly aligned to my goals. I made a point of saying that an MBA is the best path for my goals, but that this would serve as a good backup plan. I didn't blow my interviewer out of the water with this, but I checked all the boxes.
- Ethical dilemma?
- My grade: B
- I rambled a bit when I discussed the dilemma. I think I tried too hard to make it sound like a moral/internal conflict, because when I first described the situation, it came off pretty black & white and not really as a "dilemma". I was able to salvage my response in the end, but I didn't talk as smoothly as I wanted.
So there you have it. I hope this is helpful to people still thinking about interviewing. I perhaps graded myself a bit harshly, given that I was ultimately accepted. But I think self-reflection is important here, because I still have more interviewers to come and I want to learn from my mis-steps as much as possible.
My year-end review was delayed (AGAIN). Hopefully I'll come back with some good news on that front.