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Optional Interview

An interview is not a required component of the School of Hotel Administration undergraduate admissions process, although applicants may request an optional interview. Applications to the Hotel School are considered complete with or without the interview. 

Please remember that interviews are optional! If it is not possible to arrange an interview, rest assured that it will not negatively impact your application.

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Cornell University

What is the interview experience in Cornell like?

5 Answers

Priyank Mishra

Priyank Mishra , Received admits from Cornell | Duke | Purdue | UWMad | TAMU

I have received an admit from Cornell M Engg program for Engineering Management, Fall 2018. So, I believe I am qualified to answer this question.

Cornells Engineering Management Program, due to its small batch size, is comparatively difficult to get in. I have seen profiles like 330/120 (GRE/TOEFL) with 18–24 months of work experience and decent Undergrad score getting rejected without any interview this Fall. They are very selective with your undergrad performance, your work experience and have a keen eye for your Statement of Purpose, Resume as well as Letters of Recommendation. So if you have received an interview call from Cornell for your M Engg program, you have done a lot of things right!

I was interviewed by the Executive Director of the program over Skype. She did her Bachelors from Cornell and holds two Masters, one from Cornell and the other from MIT which she followed up with PhD . She is also a Co-founder of a successful startup and is a Presidential Innovation Fellow 2014–15. I am happy that I checked her profile and all these details only after the interview got over otherwise it could have been intimidating.

Interview experience

Pretty chilled out. It was less of an interview and more of a conversation where she wanted to know more about me, my SOP, my resume, my previous works and my future plans. It was a friendly discussion where I was given an opportunity to ask anything about Cornell or the program. I felt she just wanted to know if the applicant is fit enough for the program.

Some of the questions were:

  1. Two achievements or work that you feel is the highlight of your resume.
  2. Future plans after graduation. (Partly mentioned in SOP)
  3. Asked about one of my projects at Reliance.( Mentioned in SOP)
  4. Asked about one of my academic project.( Mentioned in SOP )
  5. The two best things about your resume considering the first two things you mentioned previously, they dont exist.

Yes! Nothing was asked beyond my resume and SOP and this was the case with most of us.

I too asked a lot of questions about the program. Some of the things were not very clear on the website and so I thought this was a great opportunity to clear all my doubts. She was very helpful and answered all my queries diligently. I lost the count but I actually asked too many, which made her quip “looks like I am the one being interviewed about our program.” All smiles

In a nutshell, If you are truthful towards yourself, your SOP, and your resume and have a clear mindset about your future plans and career objectives,- you dont have much to prepare for such interviews. You are almost there.

Be yourself. Be confident.

All the best.

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Mike Choi

Mike Choi , studied at Cornell University

I also cant speak specifically about the M.Eng program, but if it is anything like undergraduate admissions and interviews, then these are some tips:

1.  Be very clear about why you chose Cornell and why you want to study what you want to study.  Make sure those two things logically make a story that makes sense.  Emphasize what you can contribute or bring to the table.  What is your unique value proposition to the school or program?  Why should they pick you over the other people that are applying?
2.  Demonstrate your genuine interest in the school and/or program:  Have you talked to current student, or alums, or professors?  Have you visited the school and Ithaca?
3.  Ask lots of good questions (to demonstrate interest in the school)– something that isnt obvious from doing research on the school/program.  As for *ANY* interviews (jobs, school, etc.) the best advice on questions is to ask questions about the interviewer and his/her experience or background or interests, etc.  People love talking about themselves.

As for the SOP: there are quite a few good books on the subject, so Im going to assume you read some good sample SOPs.  If you did, you know you never want to tell your life story, especially not the way most people would do it (chornologically and factual = BORING!).  Make it interesting, yet be sure to state your value proposition to the program/school, why Cornell, why your major, why you need the degree in this point in your life, your goals for the next 5, 10 years, what drives you, etc…  Most of all, be yourself.  Show who you are, something that they cant get from your transcript or resume.  Show that you have personality and are a person that the essay reader wants to get to know, "Yeah, I want to meet this person, s/he seems interesting and seems like a good fit for us." is what you want to achieve…  Dont lie or overdo it– it is very obvious and will backfire on you.  So be yourself.  Im hoping that you are 3+ dimensional and not a flat boring person…  🙂

In sum, this is a piece that I wrote in 2000 that still gets a lot of views and emails sent to me today, so it is still relevant, even though it is geared towards undergraduate admissions:
Page on epinions.com

Good luck!

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Shaw Li

Shaw Li , Cornell Tech MBA, Works @Sparklie.co Making it easier to buy an engagement ring. ⊙Worked @ Visa, @ Accentur…


I was asked to answer this question, but like the folks below, I did not apply to the M.Eng program. I only applied to the business school so I can share that experience. Thus, my experience is likely to be very different from the undergraduate admissions and your experience, if you decide to apply.

While both Richard and Mike have good points, Id like to point out a few differences.

1. Master/graduate interviews are likely to be different from undergraduate admissions and often more similar to PhD admissions. Why? Because at this stage, admissions expect you to have a better idea of what youll be working on as a masters student. The M.Eng is basically a 1 year program so the more focused you are, the better youll get usage out of the program.

2. Interviews for admissions will likely be with both the Director/Assistant Director of Admissions + faculty. Thats because there are fewer candidates applying and fewer admitted candidates. Whereas in your undergraduate, you might not have even interviewed with anyone besides the admissions, youll probably have interview with a faculty member. So knowing some faculty members and why youd are interested in studying at Cornell vs. other schools is more important.

3. If youre applying for the  Cornell Tech · M. Eng in Computer Science program, Id also make sure you reach out to some of the Cornell Tech folks. Its different than traditional admissions processes in the type of candidates and questions youd answer. Theres a larger focuse on entrepreneurship and application of learnings that you should seek to demonstrate.

Good luck.

Richardson Kilis

Richardson Kilis , B.S. Chemical Engineering & International Relations, Cornell University (2009)

I have never gone through the graduate admissions interview process, but I wouldnt be surprised if the M.Eng. interview is basically the same as undergraduate as its basically a fifth-year undergraduate program.

These admissions interviews are more informational sessions rather than a formal interview that will make or break the admissions decision. Its a way for you to update Cornell on anything that may have changed since you submitted your resume and original application. Additionally, its a way for you to find out what the Cornell environment is like from the experience of alumni. Dont be afraid to ask lots of questions.

Your statement of purpose should clearly outline what you are trying to accomplish with an M.Eng. degree. What gaps are your trying to fill in your current academic or professional background? Give a holistic picture of your experience so that the committee understands your trajectory.

Stephani Robson

Stephani Robson , Senior Lecturer, Cornell School of Hotel Administration

While Engineering is not my area, I can imagine the goals of the interview are the same as in my schools interviews: to see if you are a good fit for the program.  So be able to articulate clearly why you want to pursue this degree at Cornell, but also be able to talk cogently about what you can bring to the program or how you think youll contribute. Be ready to address your academic and work-related experience but that may not be the focus of the conversation. The intent is to have a pleasant social interaction, kind of like a first date over coffee.  Dont worry — be yourself and youll do great.