Cornell graduate school interview questions will be similar to common graduate school interview questions and other Ivy League schools, such as Harvard graduate school interview questions. Only a few of Cornell’s graduate schools and programs use admissions interviews to assess candidates, however, those programs that do use them place a strong emphasis on interviewing. It’s important to be well prepared for even the most common questions, and to present a strong impression during your interview. In this blog, we’ll look at some Cornell graduate school interview questions and sample answers for specific programs, plus tips on how to prepare for your grad school interview at Cornell!

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Cornell Graduate School Interview Questions How to Prepare for Cornell Graduate School Interview Questions FAQs

Cornell Graduate School Interview Questions

Cornell University Graduate School uses admissions interviews only for select programs and fields of study. For most of the graduate programs, the Cornell graduate school interview questions will mimic other Ivy League graduate school interview questions. However, some graduate school programs will have a different approach to the admissions interview questions.

For instance, Cornell Law School and Cornell Medical School place a greater emphasis on the grad school interview and it is a critical part of the admissions decisions process. Other Cornell graduate programs may use the interview to gather supplemental information about applicants. For the Cornell graduate programs that use interviews, it is a way to assess the most competitive applicants for admission, so it is important to be well prepared if you want to get into grad school at Cornell.

Next, we have some sample Cornell graduate school interview questions and answers from the programs which use admissions interviews.

Cornell Graduate School Interview Question and Answer #1 – Master’s in Business Analytics

The Master’s in Business Analytics (MSBA) offered through Cornell’s SC Johnson College of Business uses a video interview format for applicants. You can expect some personal questions about your career goals and aspirations, as well as questions about your past experience and knowledge of business analytics so the admissions committee can learn more about you.

Sample Questions

  • How do you keep yourself updated about the latest business trends and knowledge?
  • Explain your typical strategy when taking on a new project.
  • What do you think are the core competencies of a good business analyst?
  • Walk me through your resume.

Cornell Graduate School Interview Question and Answer #2 – Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management

The Cornell Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management offers a Master’s in Professional Studies program which uses video interviews for its applicants. Applicants must view and respond to pre-recorded video questions. These interviews are designed to learn more about applicants’ background, experiences and communication skills.

Sample Questions

  • What are your short-term and long-term career interests?
  • Who is your favorite professor? What was your favorite course in college?
  • How did you first learn about our MPS program? What about this program interests you most?
  • Can you share any past experiences you have working in a diverse environment?

Cornell Graduate School Interview Question and Answer #3 – Master of Engineering

Applicants to the Cornell Master of Engineering will be sent an invitation to complete a pre-recorded video interview shortly after the application deadline. Students can record their answers to the provided questions and complete their application. The interview takes no more than 30 minutes.

Sample Questions

  • Tell me about the most challenging engineering project you've worked on.
  • What do you enjoy most and least about engineering?
  • What new engineering specialty skills have you developed during the few years?
  • Why have you chosen to apply to our program?

Cornell Graduate School Interview Question and Answer #4 – Brooks School of Public Policy

The Cornell Brooks School of Public Policy uses online interviews for some of its Master’s in Public Administration and Master’s in Health Administration programs. Selected applicants are invited to a 30-minute online interview with members of the admissions committee to help further narrow down the applicant pool.

Sample Questions

  • What does public policy mean to you?
  • How will our program help you achieve your career goals? What are your expectations of this program?
  • Why do you think there is a demand for public policy professionals?
  • Can you tell me more about your experience in ____.

Cornell Graduate School Interview Question and Answer #5 – Master of Fine Arts

Applicants to Cornell’s Master of Fine Arts programs will also be asked to interview online with the admissions committee. Only shortlisted candidates are selected for an interview, so it’s extremely important to make a good impression in your interview and secure a spot!

Sample Questions

  • How will you contribute to our culture and community?
  • Describe for us the trajectory of your career up to this point.
  • Why do you want to go to graduate school, and why now?
  • What is your favorite artistic piece, and why?

Cornell Graduate School Interview Question and Answer #6 – Master of Management in Hospitality

The Cornell Master of Management in Hospitality program uses a pre-recorded video essay as its student “interview”. Applicants are asked a series of questions and instructed to record their answers. The admissions committee uses these video sketches as an additional way to evaluate candidates, so it is important to communicate clearly and effectively.

Sample Questions

  • What do you know about the terms Excursionist, Front of the house, High-touch service?
  • What are your key strengths and weaknesses?
  • Why do you wish to join the hospitality industry?
  • How would you describe your management style?

Check out more examples of grad school interview questions!

How to Prepare for Cornell Graduate School Interview Questions

#1 Practice using video interviews

Cornell’s graduate school interview questions are often presented in the form of an online interview or pre-recorded video interview. This means practicing with a mock interview is even more crucial, since some applicants may not be as familiar or comfortable with video interviewing. Practice by setting up your camera or webcam and recording a few responses to see how you appear on camera. Note your body language, facial expressions and eye contact. It’s much harder to establish that personal connection when you won’t be face-to-face with an in-person interviewer, but you can achieve the same result through video with practice.

Professional feedback can be an asset here, so you may want to get some grad school application help by talking to a grad school admissions consultant, who can coach you on the video interview process and help you adjust your delivery. An admissions consultant can act as an unofficial interviewer and give you advice on how to improve your video interviewing skills.

Remember it’s also important to test your video and audio equipment to ensure your interview answers are coming through loud and clear. Since many of the Cornell graduate school interviews allow you to make pre-recorded video submissions, keep practicing until you get the right take!

#2 Research the program and field of interest

Chances are you’ve already done some research into the graduate program you plan to apply to and you have some experience in your field when applying to graduate school. But whether you’re changing careers or looking to take the next step, you can expect to be asked questions relating to your knowledge of Cornell’s specific programs and your technical and experiential knowledge of the field.

You should have solid answers to questions like “Why Cornell?” and “why this program?” and even “why are you applying to graduate school?” Be prepared to answer questions about your resume and experience, or your opinions on hot topics issues in your field. You can do both by thoroughly researching both the Cornell graduate school program you’re interested in and keeping up to date on the latest news in your field.

#3 Make your answers stand out

Many of the Cornell graduate school interview questions you’ll be asked might be fairly common or straightforward. The trouble is, the admissions committee has likely heard a thousand answers to these same questions, and they all begin to sound the same. When delivering your responses, remember to personalize them with your unique experiences, viewpoint and skills. It’s essential to stand out as much as possible, so rather than giving a solid but common answer to a common question, don’t be afraid to show some of your personality.

For instance, instead of answering the common question “tell me about yourself” with a simple listing of your accomplishments, share a personal story that encompasses who you are or talk a bit about your personal and professional journey up to this point of applying to grad school.

#4 Show interest and enthusiasm

It’s a little tougher to do in video interviews, especially pre-recorded ones, but you need to be sure that your delivery is engaging and enthusiastic. In an in-person interview, your passion for your field would come through to your interviewer—since you won’t be face-to-face, you need to remember that you aren’t just recording an answer but demonstrating and showcasing your interest in a program.


1. Does Cornell use graduate school interviews?

Yes, some of Cornell’s graduate programs use admissions interviews. The graduate school interview is an important part of the application process as it is used to evaluate the top candidates and make final admissions decisions.

2. Which Cornell graduate school programs use interviews?

Only a few of Cornell’s graduate school programs use interviews, such as law, medicine, fine arts, engineering and public policy, to name a few.

3. Do all applicants get an interview invitation?

No, for most programs only the top candidates are selected for an interview, or candidates are selected randomly. If you’re not selected for an interview, this doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t get in, but accepting and acing an interview gives you a better chance of being admitted to Cornell.

4. Is it a good sign if I get a graduate school interview invitation?

Yes. Getting an interview invitation means you are most likely being strongly considered for admission. For some programs, submitting an interview is a requirement to complete your application, so it’s important to accept your interview invitation as soon as possible.

5. What are typical graduate school interview questions?

Some common graduate school interview questions ask about your career goals and motivations for studying at the graduate level. They may also ask about your past experiences and career progression, your technical or broader knowledge of your field, or they may be behavioral questions, asking what you would do in a presented scenario.

6. Does the graduate school interview at Cornell matter?

Yes. Cornell’s graduate programs use the interview as a way to weed out potential applicants and make final admissions decisions. Usually, only the top candidates are selected for an interview, so it is very important to do well in the grad school interview for the best chance of acceptance.

7. How can I prepare my Cornell graduate school interview questions?

Using mock interviews is one of the best ways to prepare for Cornell graduate school interview questions. Since Cornell tends to use video interviews, set up your mock interview to mimic the real thing as closely as possible by setting up a webcam or camera and recording your responses.

8. Does Cornell use PhD interviews?

Yes, Cornell’s PhD programs often use interviews during admissions. Some common questions you can expect are “why do you want to do a PhD?”, “Why Cornell?” and “tell me about yourself.”

To your success,

Your friends at BeMo

BeMo Academic Consulting

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