MBA Students smiling.

Choosing your MBA: visiting Cambridge in person can make all the difference

16 November 2023

The article at a glance

After a few years of offering online interviews due to the global pandemic, the MBA Admissions Team are now offering candidates the opportunity to attend the interview at Cambridge Judge Business School in person.
Here we share some insights from our alumni about their memories of attending the in-person interview before starting their MBA year, as well as some tips and insights into the format of the day itself.

Category: Programme news

Welcoming candidates in person

Charlotte Russell-Green, Head of MBA Recruitment and Admissions

As you choose which MBA is right for you, the experience of visiting Cambridge in person and meeting prospective fellow classmates, as well as MBA alumni, faculty and our Admissions teams cannot be underestimated.

Charlotte Russell-Green, Head of MBA Recruitment and Admissions, explains “We are delighted to welcome candidates back to the Business School in person for our earlier rounds, for those applying to join us in September 2024. The MBA interview offers candidates the chance to meet faculty and speak to students and alumni who have experienced the programme for themselves”.

She continues, “For those joining us ‘on campus’, we can showcase the unique city of Cambridge, from the spectacular college dinner the evening before the interview, through to the opportunity to network and build connections with your peers and future classmates, before your MBA year even begins.

“The Admissions team also works very closely with the Careers team at the Business School to support your whole MBA journey, as well as your goals for the year ahead,

“We offer candidates a ‘Careers Masterclass’ where you can discuss and review your MBA goals for the year ahead with the Cambridge Judge Careers team.

“Visiting Cambridge and meeting staff, students and alumni in person can make all the difference in your decision making, ensuring that the Cambridge MBA is the right fit for you and your MBA year,” Charlotte concludes.

We offer candidates a ‘Careers Masterclass’ where you can discuss and review your MBA goals for the year ahead with the Cambridge Judge Careers team.

Charlotte Russell-Green, Head of MBA Recruitment and Admissions

The interview format from College Dinner to Careers masterclass

The College dinner

Vivian Li, (MBA 2017)

The evening before the interview, we invite candidates for dinner at one of the University’s 31 Colleges. Candidates have a chance to get to know each other and start to develop their Cambridge network. We encourage candidates to foster their network at the earliest opportunity, through the interview day as well as careers treks and welcome events. The 12-month MBA programme is incredibly intense, and candidates will be at an advantage if they start getting to know their classmates early – alumni have even been known to form business partnerships at this dinner.

Candidates also get a taste of one of the unique aspects of Cambridge college life – the ‘Formal Hall’, a dining experience that has been part of the traditions of networking and academic debate here in Cambridge for centuries.

“We’ve previously hosted interview dinners in the beautiful Cripps Dining Hall at Queens’ College, and among the stained-glass crests of Trinity Hall’s dining hall,” Charlotte explains.

Vivian Li, (MBA 2017) Head of Omnichannel Retail, VIPSHOP, China, says “One of the things I remember strongly about my interview was the welcoming feeling that the Admissions team provided. Chatting during the welcome dinner, it was clear that they knew each of our backgrounds very well, and that they had dedicated time getting to know our applications, as well as telling the candidates what they could offer to find a mutual fit”.

One of the things I remember strongly about my interview was the welcoming feeling that the Admissions team provided. Chatting during the welcome dinner, it was clear that they knew each of our backgrounds very well, and that they had dedicated time getting to know our applications.

Vivian Li, (MBA 2017)

The MBA interview day

Sarah Lester, (MBA 2019)

On the morning of the interview day, we start with a welcome coffee and an opportunity for candidates to network and get to know each other, together with the MBA Admissions team. This is followed by a short 30-minute interview with a member of the academic faculty from the Business School. Candidates are given an opportunity to meet the people who will be teaching them during their MBA year. The professors at the Business School can assess academic ability, along with a candidate’s all-round personality and interests. It is important for our faculty to give their insight into who they think will work well together in that year’s cohort and contribute to the profile of the incoming class overall.

Sarah Lester, (MBA 2019) Equity Research – Europe, Morgan Stanley, London, says “I was steadfast in my decision to study at Cambridge following the interview weekend. I did not expect to be as impressed with every single aspect of the Business School, the city, and the MBA programme. Every corner of Cambridge inspired me, the curriculum excited me, and importantly, all my potential future classmates were so incredibly friendly and supportive. I came away feeling like I had found the place that I belonged”.

Every corner of Cambridge inspired me, the curriculum excited me, and importantly, all my potential future classmates were so incredibly friendly and supportive.

Sarah Lester, (MBA 2019)

The interview, a conversation shared

Emily Brierley, Head of MBA Recruitment and Admissions, explains “The interview itself does not just focus on the academics, but could cover any topic, as well as your motivations and interest in studying at Cambridge.

She continues, “The interviews are more of a conversation – they are designed to see how the students think. How do you respond to new information, how do you assess it, and how might you come up with solutions and ideas in response to this?”

The interviews are more of a conversation – they are designed to see how the students think. How do you respond to new information, how do you assess it, and how might you come up with solutions and ideas in response to this?

Emily Brierley, Head of MBA Recruitment and Admissions

Matthew Hou (MBA 2020), Senior Advisor, Health Canada, Ontario, explains “The Cambridge MBA Admissions team did a huge amount of work co-ordinating a diverse cohort for interview. It was conducted by the Business School faculty, which is not always the case with comparable MBA programmes, where you could be talking to an alumnus in a different city”.

Matt was able to visit Cambridge in person during the early recruitment rounds before the global pandemic in 2020. Not only did he ‘fall in love with Cambridge’ but he says the way the interviews were conducted influenced his decision to choose Cambridge Judge, over others.

“The interview was not easy. But it was a great way to highlight myself beyond my CV and the essays, and for the interviewer to understand the strengths in leadership team development that I would be able to contribute to the programme and cohort,” says Matthew.

Emily Brierley.
Emily Brierley, Head of MBA Recruitment and Admissions
Hou Matthew.
Matthew Hou (MBA 2020)

The Cambridge MBA Admissions team did a huge amount of work co-ordinating a diverse cohort for interview.

Matthew Hou (MBA 2020)

Careers masterclass: setting your goals for the MBA

On the interview day small groups of candidates also meet with the CJBS Careers team and can talk about their career plans and ideas, and how the Cambridge MBA will help them to realise their aspirations.

The Cambridge Judge Careers team, along with our external coaches and experts, have worked across many industries and sectors, and know what employers are looking for in an MBA candidate and will advise a candidate on their career aims and goals. The discussions are very much led by students’ interests and provide them with a suite of ideas to think about once they have left Cambridge, regardless of whether they ultimately receive an offer.

Exploring Cambridge, with lunch and a city tour

At lunch, candidates (and their partners, if they have come along) can meet current students and ask them in detail about Cambridge life and their MBA experience so far. Lunch is then followed by a guided tour of Cambridge, to give them a feel for the wider University and the city in which they are coming to study. These informal walking tours have become quite the talking point and memorable for some MBAs, who not only met during the interview round but went on to develop a relationship and then marry.

Cambridge MBA couple Isabella Sa Freire and Thales de Paula, both MBA 2017, met during their MBA interviews the year before taking their MBA, and got married in 2021.

Bring your partner or family if you can

Alan Sternberg, (MBA 2019)

Bring your partner with you, if possible, if they are going to be moving to Cambridge with you. Your choice of business school is a big decision, and your own success will depend on the support of those around you.

Alan Sternberg (MBA 2019) Capital Planning Manager, Amazon, Luxembourg, says “I decided to come to Cambridge instead of doing the online  interview, because I wanted to get a sense of what it was like to live in Cambridge at the same time as studying here”.

Visiting Cambridge itself was vital in his decision making, not only for himself but also for his wife and young son who would be travelling with him from Chile.

He continues, “My visit here was a key point in my decision. It was very important for me to see that Cambridge was such a nice city to live and work in. The weather was better than I expected, the city has fabulous architecture, and lots of great parks – perfect for myself and my family”.

Alan felt that it was important to see Cambridge for himself and make sure it was the right location for him, as well as those moving to Cambridge with him for his MBA, “I think coming for an interview here, instead of doing the interview through Skype, was a smart decision, so, I could see how it was for my family, as well as for me. I know the decision to do an MBA can be a very personal one, but you also want the ones that are coming with you to have the best time possible”.

It was very important for me to see that Cambridge was such a nice city to live and work in. The weather was better than I expected, the city has fabulous architecture, and lots of great parks – perfect for myself and my family.

Alan Sternberg, (MBA 2019)
Tom Lovelace, (MBA 2019)

Creating a memorable day

Tom Lovelace, (MBA 2019) Business Development, Tink, London, says “When I came up to visit, I fell in love with the city and the Colleges and the atmosphere across the Business School as well”.

For Tom it was the tech sector within the wider Cambridge eco-system, as well as the Business School links to Silicon Fen that were some of the deciding factors for him, when choosing Cambridge.

When he then visited the city itself his decision was made for him, “It was my first time in Cambridge as despite being British, I hadn’t actually travelled that much around the UK before”.

“Choosing where you study for your MBA is so important. Choose what’s right for you and don’t apply for a school that doesn’t feel right or send in an application that you think is right for the school but not necessarily a true reflection of you. Be true to yourself and be authentic in your application, it’s much more meaningful and will ensure you have a better experience during the MBA itself.”

Tom concludes, “I knew that Cambridge was the right choice for me when I came to visit in person, and I then wanted to do everything I could to come here”.

. Be true to yourself and be authentic in your application, it's much more meaningful and will ensure you have a better experience during the MBA itself.

Tom Lovelace, (MBA 2019)

The right fit for your MBA

The special experience of coming onto campus and meeting staff, students and alumni in person can make all the difference in your decision making, ensuring that the Cambridge MBA is the right fit for you and your MBA year.

Charlotte Russell-Green concludes, “Enjoy the day! Cambridge is a wonderful city and location for study, and we hope to give you a taste of this at the in-person interview. Talk to people and be curious – you will make connections here, wherever you finally undertake your MBA.”

Enjoy the day! Cambridge is a wonderful city and location for study, and we hope to give you a taste of this at the in-person interview. Talk to people and be curious – you will make connections here, wherever you finally undertake your MBA.

Charlotte Russell-Green, Head of MBA Recruitment and Admissions

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