Cornell Interview

January 8, 2023
By AdmissionSight

Cornell Interview

How do you get an interview with Cornell?

First-year applicants frequently contact the admissions office asking for an interview. Only candidates for the College of Architecture, Art, and Planning, and more precisely, only candidates majoring in Architecture, are required or have an option for a Cornell interview. Additionally, candidates for our majors in Fine Arts or Urban and Regional Studies have the choice of an interview through this College.

How do you get an interview with Cornell? Responses to interview requests are given in the order that they are received. Requests are answered as soon as possible, usually within three to five business days. You will have the choice to have an interview with a faculty member or an alumnus, however, all interviews will be performed digitally.

You can match alumni interviews by choosing a nearby city or your current time zone. You can match faculty interviews by choosing a date from the drop-down list in the Interview Request Form. Please remember that faculty interviews will take place at fixed times (Eastern Time) and dates that cannot be modified.

Cornell Chimes at the Cornell campus

Architecture Major Applicants – All B. Arch. program applicants must attend an interview.

Art Major Applicants – All applicants to the BFA degree in the arts are encouraged to schedule an interview, while it is not necessary.

Urban and Regional Studies Applicants – Applicants to this program are advised to schedule an interview even if it is not necessary.

Cornell receives a lot of applications (67,000+) to satisfy the demand, and the school would want to be as equal as possible during the admissions process, thus none of the candidates applying for other programs will have the opportunity for a Cornell interview.

The Cornell Alumni Admissions Ambassador Network (CAAAN) has over 10,000 alumni who meet with over 25,000 applicants annually. However, CAAAN contacts are not interviews. Instead, these are optional, unstructured dialogues that provide students the chance to learn more about the university, exchange perspectives with others, and ask questions.

The correspondence is fully automated, and applicants can express interest on their Application Status Page particular to Cornell (information on how to set up the Application Status Page will be provided to applicants after their application to Cornell is processed).

Priority will be given to those who have expressed interest first, according to the CAAAN members. If connecting the applicant with one of the CAAAN volunteers was successful, the CAAAN volunteer will get in touch with the applicant to schedule a meeting at a time that is convenient for both parties.

Contacts are informational rather than evaluative, so don’t be alarmed. Due to restrictions imposed by distance, timing, the availability of alumni, and the volume of candidates, Cornell can contact only roughly 30–40% of those who apply.

What are the questions to expect in a Cornell interview?

You may be wondering, “What are the questions to expect in a Cornell interview?” now that you are aware of the departments that either require or promote interviews. Here is a list of possible general inquiries you can encounter during your Cornell interview.

View of a female student talking in front of two people.

Personal Questions

Most likely, your interviewer will begin by asking you a few personal questions to get things started. Keep in mind that when you sit down for your interview, you are essentially starting from scratch because the person interviewing you doesn’t have access to your application.

  • Please tell me more about yourself.
  • Describe your upbringing for me.
  • What is your preferred academic subject?
  • What pastimes do you enjoy? What interests you?
  • Do you possess any unique or distinctive talents?

Cornell-Specific Questions

These inquiries will be fully centered on the reasons you are applying to Cornell and why you want to enroll there. This is a great chance to demonstrate that you have done your study on the institution, and your responses will be stronger if you can discuss any specific classes, activities, or aspects of the Cornell way of life that appeal to you.

  • What makes you desire to attend college?
  • What makes you want to go to Cornell?
  • What groups or extracurriculars at school pique your attention, and why?

Questions Specific to the Department

You should expect department-specific questions in your Cornell interview regardless of the department you’re applying to in the College of Architecture, Art, and Planning. You might be questioned about the Department of Architecture by someone like:

  • Describe x in your portfolio for me.
  • Which architect is your favorite, and why?
  • What are a few of your current favorite structures, and why do you like them?
  • What inspired you to become an architect?

You can be asked the following during your interview with the Department of Art:

  • Why do you wish to apply to the art program?
  • What or who influences your art?
  • Describe a particular artwork in your portfolio.
  • Describe your most meaningful artistic creation for me.

The following may be among the questions your Department of Urban and Regional Planning interviewer will ask you.

  • What motivated your interest in urban and regional planning?
  • Why do you wish to apply specifically to this program?

Strengths and Weaknesses Based Inquiries

Your interviewer can assess your skills and prospective growth areas by using these types of questions.

  • Describe a challenge you have faced or a time when you failed. How did you deal with it?
  • What do you think is your biggest weakness?
  • Describe your strong points.
  • Describe a time when you gave back to your neighborhood, a group, etc.

Three students talking while using a laptop.

Remember to be honest when answering and that nobody is flawless because otherwise, we wouldn’t be human. Your interviewer wants to know if you can maintain your resolve in the face of difficulty and if you can handle the demands of Cornell University.

Questions About the Future

You might be questioned about your future, which brings us back to Cornell’s objective of developing future leaders to better the world. Take the time to envision your life after graduation, in ten years, and in the future before your interview.

  • What’s your next major objective once you graduate?
  • In five years, where do you see yourself? How about after a decade?
  • How might a Cornell education help you accomplish your objectives?
  • How will you define success for yourself?

What kind of students does Cornell look for?

There is no secret formula that can predict whether you will be admitted to Cornell, whether you are a first-year or transfer applicant. What you may have heard is accurate, though: Only 6.91% of candidates were accepted in the last admissions cycle, making Cornell admission extremely competitive.

Access and affordability as well as diversity and inclusion are all very important to this institution. The admissions process is very individualized, and Cornell takes a lot of time to determine if you’ll fit well with the university’s philosophy and culture. One of the best things about Cornell is the consequence, which is an extraordinarily diverse group of students.

So, what kind of students does Cornell look for? These factors are what Cornell seeks in their applicants.

Intellectual Potential: Have you pushed yourself with the most difficult coursework? What evidence do you have of your desire to learn?

Character:  Honesty. Open-mindedness. Empathy. Initiative. Cornell cares about your values. Do your application essays and personal statements highlight your best qualities?

Participation: Extracurricular activities. Community participation Workplace experience. Leadership. What unique skills or passions have you cultivated?

Reasons for Choosing Berkley:  How do you intend to take advantage of Cornell’s outstanding learning environment, whether you have chosen a major? What makes it the ideal location for you?

Cornell firmly backs opportunity equality. No one is denied from the program due to their color, religion, ethnicity, nationality, gender, sexual orientation, age, or disability.

Does the Cornell alumni interview matter?

Except for the College of Architecture, Art, and Planning (AAP), no undergraduate program requires (or offers) Cornell interviews for admission. Any applicant to this Architecture Department must go through a personal interview. Meanwhile, although it is not necessary, applicants to the Department of Art or the Department of Urban and Regional Studies are invited to schedule an interview.

Does the Cornell alumni interview matter? Compared to several other prestigious universities, Cornell has a unique interview process. Depending on their preferred department, only applicants to the College of Architecture, Art, and Planning are needed or encouraged to participate in an interview. You must attend an interview if you are applying to the Department of Architecture, but applicants to the Departments of Art or Urban and Regional Planning are strongly urged to attend. There aren’t any interviews necessary for the other universities and colleges (or available).

Architecture Department Interview

Interviews are required of all applicants to this department because they serve the objective of “exploring an applicant’s interest in architecture and to understand how that interest originated.” Although you won’t be required to bring a formal portfolio, your interviewer will anticipate that you will bring some examples of your artwork to display.

According to Cornell, these interviews are given a lot of weight in the admissions process, so you should only set up an appointment if you are certain that you are applying to the architecture major. You can arrange an interview virtually with a member of the Cornell faculty or with a local architecture alum.

Art Department Interview

Although an interview is not required for this department, it is strongly advised and to your best benefit to attend one. You must present all your gathered work to a faculty member or art alumni during the portfolio interview.

Department of Urban and Regional Planning Interview

An interview for this department is not required, however, it is recommended, like the Department of Art interview. You will have the chance to ask program graduates questions during the interview to understand more about the urban and regional studies program. The school can learn more about your interest in urban and regional studies, city planning, and other topics by taking this opportunity.

Please rest assured that applications are not negatively impacted if a candidate is not contacted or is unable to meet with a CAAAN member due to time, location, or volunteer constraints. In addition, be aware that contacting alumni through the CAAAN Program does not replace the personal interview that is required for applicants to the Architecture program or the interview that is optional for applicants to the Department of Art and the Urban and Regional Studies program.

How do I prepare for a Cornell interview?

How do I prepare for a Cornell interview? The interview’s timing is a crucial consideration. Early submission of your interview request is always advised because you will have more options and more time to prepare. Cornell wants you to have plenty of time to take full advantage of this opportunity because senior year can be hectic. Admissions will contact you once you submit your request to provide specific next actions and preparation advice.

Two women talking on a table.

Be prepared to respond to inquiries like, “What interests you about architecture, art, or urban and regional studies?”, “What especially about Cornell and AAP appeals to you?”, and “Who or what is your favorite artist, architect, or city?” Prepare interview questions for your interviewer by researching them online or looking at their faculty profile on

If you’re applying to schools of architecture or the arts, organize your work-in-progress portfolio in a format that will be simple to review, such as in PDF or Google Docs. Also, be prepared to talk about the ideas, methods, or purposes behind each piece.

Lastly, practice speaking in front of a mirror or have a mock interview with a friend. The talk will flow more naturally during your interview if you are prepared for what to say and how to respond to questions.

Cornell University is well-known in the field of architecture. The university works hard to encourage each student’s personal development and exploration thus earning its name as one of the best schools for architecture. If you are interested to be part of the College of Architecture, Art, and Planning, make sure to take advantage of the Cornell interview. If you need further assistance in your application, AdmissionSight can help. We have been guiding students in the tough admissions process of top schools in the US. Book an initial consultation with AdmissionSight today to discuss more.



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