Columbia interview questions will be similar in content and format to other Ivy League interview questions. College interviews at Columbia are conducted by alumni members, rather than the admissions committee or faculty. Like many of the Ivy League schools, Columbia does not use interview questions as an evaluative tool. In this blog, we’ll look at what to expect from admissions interviews at Columbia as well as some sample Columbia interview questions.

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Admissions Interviews at Columbia University Columbia Interview Questions and Sample Answers Conclusion FAQs

Admissions Interviews at Columbia University

College interview questions at Columbia University are similar to other Ivy League schools in that they are not asked by members of the admissions committee. All interviews are held by volunteer members of Columbia’s Alumni Representative Committee. This means you will be interviewed by a former student of Columbia in an informal, informative interview rather than an evaluative college interview.

The purpose of interviews at Columbia is to provide a bit of information about yourself to your interviewer and learn more about the Columbia undergraduate. Your interviewer will typically submit a summary report of your interview to the admissions committee, but the report does not influence your chances of admission or factor into admissions decisions.

Do College Interviews at Columbia Matter?

Since Columbia receives thousands of applications for its undergraduate programs, most applicants will not be interviewed due to time constraints and a limited number of interviewers. If you are not offered an interview, or there is no alumnus available to interview you, don’t worry. Not getting an interview is not a sign that your application will be rejected.

On the other hand, if you do receive an invitation to an interview, take it! This is your chance to ask questions of someone how attended Columbia and learn more about the school experience and what to expect. It’s an excellent opportunity for you to confirm whether Columbia is the right place for you.

Note that Columbia offers interviews, when possible, to applicants all over the world. If you’re an international applicant to Columbia, check out some common international student interview questions and answers to get started on your college interview prep!

Columbia College Interview Format

Applicants who receive an interview invitation can request either an in-person interview or a video interview. The choice is entirely a matter of preference and will not have an impact on your application. If you don’t have access to internet and can’t attend an in-person meeting, you can request a phone interview as well.

Columbia Interview Questions and Sample Answers

Here are a few Columbia interview questions you can expect:

  • Tell me a little about yourself.
  • Why Columbia?
  • Why did you choose [major]?
  • What are your career goals?
  • Are there any courses, professors, or research opportunities that interest you at Columbia?
  • How do you envision yourself contributing to the Columbia community?
  • What is an area where you would like to improve or grow while at Columbia?
  • What are your long-term career goals, and how do you see your education at Columbia supporting those goals?
  • What extracurricular activities are you involved in?
  • Have you considered any internships, research opportunities, or post-graduation plans?

Columbia Interview Questions: Example #1 and Sample Answer

“Why did you choose to apply to Columbia?”

How to Answer This Question

This question is essentially the interview equivalent of the “why this college” essay prompt. Do your research on the school, and make a list of the top 3 reasons why you would choose Columbia over other schools or specific reasons you chose to apply to Columbia. For this answer, demonstrate a bit of your knowledge of the school and state a clear reason why you’re interested in attending or what made your decision to apply.

Questions to Ask Your Interviewer

  • What did you enjoy most about attending Columbia?
  • What first drew you to apply to Columbia?
  • Tell me about your experiences at Columbia.

Columbia Interview Questions: Example #2 and Sample Answer

“Are there any courses, professors or research opportunities at Columbia that interest you?”

How to Answer This Question

You may have already answered a version of this question in the Columbia supplemental college essays. This question is really an invitation to share what about Columbia specifically you are excited about, and to ask questions of your own about how the school will enrich and encourage your interests. If you’re still working on your supplemental essays, be sure to check out some Columbia essay examples and take a look at some of the events and clubs available at Columbia.

Questions to Ask Your Interviewer

  • Can you tell me more about [club/event]?
  • Who was your favorite professor?
  • What was your favorite course and why?

Columbia Interview Questions: Example #3 and Sample Answer

“What would you contribute to the Columbia college community?”

How to Answer This Question

This question is essentially the “what would you contribute to your future college community?” college interview question. In your answer you can share some of your unique perspectives and interests and how they will enrich and diversify the community. You may already have ideas for school events or an intention to participate in school clubs. This is also a great time to ask questions about student life at Columbia and learn what may be missing that you can contribute.

Questions to Ask Your Interviewer

  • What is campus life like at Columbia?
  • What are great places for students to visit in NYC?
  • What did you like most about the Columbia college community?

Want to learn more about college interviews? Watch this video:

Columbia Interview Questions: Example #4 and Sample Answer

“What is an area where you would like to grow or improve while at Columbia?”

How to Answer This Question

This is a more personal question, and you may not have an immediate answer. Before you interview, it’s wise to do a bit of self-reflecting on what you want to gain from the college experience, and what Columbia specifically can offer you. While there are many professional and academic advantages to attending a school like Columbia, there are certainly unique and personal benefits you can gain, too. Maybe you are excited at the prospect of attending school in New York City and exploring a metropolitan cultural hub, or you are drawn to Columbia for its rich immersion in the arts.

Questions to Ask Your Interviewer

  • What do you feel was the biggest lesson you learned at Columbia?
  • What skills did Columbia teach you?
  • What was the most impactful part of your experience at Columbia?

Columbia Interview Questions: Example #5 and Sample Answer

“What are your long-term career goals, and how do you see your education at Columbia supporting those goals?”

How to Answer This Question

Once again, you may have partly answered this question in your Common App essay, but your interviewer will not have access to your application materials, so your future career goals or ambitions are likely to come up. Here, you can share a shortened version of your short- and long-term career goals and why you think Columbia’s resources and opportunities will be the most beneficial to you. It’s also your chance to learn more about Columbia’s networking and career resources available to students.

Questions to Ask Your Interviewer

  • How has Columbia helped you achieve your career goals?
  • What field/industry are you in now?
  • Can you tell me more about Columbia’s career resources for students?


While Columbia interview questions are more relaxed and informal, and your interview doesn’t count towards your admissions “score”, it’s still a good idea to accept an interview invitation if you receive one. And, it’s important to come prepared to answer your Columbia interview questions and to have a list of your own questions to ask your interviewer. This interview is your opportunity to learn more about the school and the student experience at Columbia. You may learn new things you didn’t know about, find resources you take advantage of if you are accepted and reaffirm whether Columbia is the right school for you. On the other side, you’ll also provide a bit more information to the admissions committee that isn’t necessarily included in your application and help make your application that much more memorable and distinct from the thousands of other applicants you’re competing with. If you’re looking for college interview prep help, you can always use resources like this to help you calm your nerves and get ready for your interview!


1. Does Columbia have college interviews?

Yes, Columbia does have college interviews, although they are more informational than evaluative, and are conducted by alumni members. They are a great opportunity for students to learn more about Columbia and share a bit more about themselves.

2. Who conducts college interviews at Columbia?

Columbia interviews are conducted by members of Columbia’s Alumni Representative Committee.

3. When are interviews held at Columbia?

Interview season for Columbia undergrad is between October and March of the admissions cycle.

4. How long will my interview be?

College interviews are typically between 25 and 45 minutes long, depending on the interviewer and interviewee.

5. What can I expect from Columbia interview questions?

Most Columbia interview questions will be personal, asking about your background, your interests, your intended field of study, your future career goals, and so on. You can also expect to be asked why you’ve chosen to apply to Columbia and what you know about the school.

6. How do I prepare for a Columbia interview?

The best way to prepare for Columbia interview questions is to learn what the common college admissions interview questions are and prepare your answers ahead of time. Another way is to do your research on the school and come prepared to ask questions of your own, showing that you’ve done your homework and you’re interested in what Columbia has to offer.

7. How many applicants get an interview at Columbia?

Not everyone gets an interview, since Columbia receives thousands of applications. However, if you do not receive an interview invitation, don’t worry, as this won’t count against your application.

8. Can Columbia interviewers see your application?

No, your alumni interviewer will not have your complete application, just your basic information. Since the interview is more informational than evaluative, your interview will be more like a conversation than a review of your application.

To your success,

Your friends at BeMo

BeMo Academic Consulting

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