For round two applicants to Harvard Business School’s prestige MBA program, this coming Wednesday is D-Day. On Jan. 25, the school will dispatch hundreds of interview invites in the first of two waves, with the second batch going out on Feb. 1.
Needless to say, it’s an anxious time for the largest single group of candidates hoping to take up residence in Boston for two years. Harvard, along with most other business schools, typically receives the most applications in the second round of their admissions cycle. Ever since the round two deadline of Jan. 4, HBS admission staffers have been holed up in Dillon House, the home of MBA admissions at Harvard, reading and assessing thousands of applications.
So the HBS notices that will come out on Wednesday will kick off the largest number of admit/deny/waitlist decisions of the year. Wharton will notify its round two applicants on Feb. 8. Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business doesn’t push out invites all at once or in a couple of batches but rather over a four-to-five week window starting in early February and ending in mid-March.
AT HBS, THE VAST MAJORITY OF INVITES GO OUT ON THE FIRST DAY
As for HBS, the school advises applicants not to overly concerned if they don’t hear anything on Wednesday. “As before, try not to worry about which day you receive an invitation to interview,” writes Chad Losee, managing director of MBA admissions and financial aid, in a blog post. “It’s an administrative step for us to make sure everything goes smoothly with the interview invitations and sign-ups.”
Well, yes and no. “Historically, most invites go out on the first day,” says Sandy Kreisberg, founder and CEO of HBSGuru.com, a leading MBA admissions consultant. “it doesn’t make a difference on which day you’re invited, but if you don’t get an invite on the first day, you may have to pull a few cards out if you have any to play.”
Admission consultants estimate that roughly 700 of the expected 800 to 850 round two invitations will be sent on the first day, leaving not much more than 100 to 150 for the second wave. “You can take these figures with a grain of salt, but they are useful guidance and not preposterously wrong,” says Kreisberg. The second HBS date of Feb. 1, of course, is also the date when thousands of applicants will be dinged.
ADVICE FOR THE ANXIOUS? ‘EAT, LOVE AND PRAY’
What should jittery applicants do before the Jan. 25 notices are out? “Eat, pray, and love,” advises Kreisberg. “But if you can only do one thing, pray.
More seriously, there is one piece of substantive advice to consider. There’s one piece of substantive advice I can offer. If you have an ace in the hole, like someone who has some pull and can write an email or make a phone call, fire that bullet before the second wave goes out. It’s very hard for them to reserve a decision after Feb. 1. They do not say ‘never mind’ once you’re rejected.”
The best person to write an email or make a call? “Ask if the person has ever done this before because if it’s likely they know how to do it,” advises Kreisberg. While prominent alumni, significant donors, major recruiters, and trustee members are often asked by some candidates to put in a good word, Kreisberg thinks the best chip you could call in would be a tenured faculty member who knows you and can endorse you.
HBS HOLDS INTERVIEWS FROM FEB. 3 THROUGH MARCH 6
Losee says that interviews will be held from Feb. 3 through March 6. In addition to on-campus interviews in Boston, HBS’ admissions team will be interviewing in Dubai, London, Menlo Park, New Delhi, New York, Paris, Shanghai, and Tokyo. “No matter where you interview, a member of the Admissions Board will conduct your interview and the process and evaluation will be the same,” adds Losee. “If you do decide to come to campus to interview, you’ll also have a chance (if you want) to sit in on a class, meet fellow applicants, current students and faculty members.”
Meantime, as Kreisberg says, eat, pray and love. And if you have any questions about the process or the interviews, write your query below in the comment section and Sandy will give you a prompt answer.