HBS Round 2 Invites Go Out Wednesday

Dillon House, the home of admissions at Harvard Business School

Dillon House, the home of admissions at Harvard Business School

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.


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.


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.


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.


  • hbsguru

    happy to speculate on dings or suspected dings (before they are official next week).
    As to guy above, did you work for HBS feeder firms, not necessary per se, but Finance is very competitive cohort, and working for firm with a history of sending kids to HBS is a big plus.
    Founding a biotech start-up is great in the eyes of God, but could be a curve ball on an HBS app, if it were not explained fully, or pre-mature to talk about.

  • Jeffersonfuller@gmail.com

    Welp…. no invite. 730 GMAT, 3.94 GPA, background in Finance/Agriculture (what I felt was pretty solid professional experience) and currently founding a biotech startup. I spent 6 months studying for the GMAT… and traded a girlfriend for my GPA undergrad.

    I’m undaunted though -just a bump in the road.

  • SA


  • Esco

    What is your GMAT score ?

  • SA

    Lol. Do you think that the admission committee has so much time on hand that they will specifically hunt me down on a rant which came about because of months of frustration built up after retaking the GMAT so many times and still not hitting over 730 ?

    And I never said that an MBA is useless. What I wanted to say was that getting dinged by the adcom or even getting in will never determine who goes on to become successful in life.

    As for my words about the new director, I guess I was somewhat harsh. I am saying this because I don’t know the guy and was merely speculating on flimsy grounds. I might be or might not be incorrect.

  • Ferdinand

    I got the feeling that you will be dinged after the interview. Because, someone from HBS will read your post, you will be recognized, and giving their devil nature, they like to kill you slowly, by interviewing you and reject you. they will try to hurt your dignity, harm your confidence and blow up what left in you of ambition and attitude. Those people are bad and isolated in ivory towers.. Aaaand , ive to say, unfortunately, they are just right in this behavior, because if you believe MBA is not worth it, you better go your way without it, you are much better..

  • hbsguru

    My friend, you are a great ranter and a great typist, and amid your hail of accusations, there are several truths, which could be qualified blah, blah, blah in a peer-reviewed article but work very well in this forum.
    As to GMAT, let me say quickly, that a low-ish GMAT is more damaging at Wharton, Columbia, Chicago and Stanford than it is at HBS, and that HBS essay format is more open to getting your “whole story” than essays at Wharton, Chi, Columbia and Stanford.
    Here is hoping you get that HBS invite next week and we can laugh over this during your mock HBS interview with me, where I will try to be the IV-Valium you need for that real and very important 30 minutes.

  • hbsguru

    AHEM, poster below calls me nasty but smart and spot on old man. I plead guilty as charged:

    “And lastly, I hate to admit this but I had been seeing Sandy’s caustic
    evaluations of candidates as well as his ‘not so sweet’ ding reports. I
    always wondered what sort of a bitter, old man he was. But I hate to
    admit this that as caustic and brutal he may be, he is absolutely spot
    on with his judgements about the entire admission process.”

  • SA

    *empathise with someone

  • SA

    This is going to be one huge rant. 

I had been preparing for a long time and submitted my application to HBS for consideration in Round 2. Like so many others, I didn’t receive the invite on the 25th and expect to be dinged next week.

    It was and will always be about the GMAT score. Nothing else matters as much. Of course you need a competitive GPA to back it but if you’re low on GMAT and high on GPA, you’re well out from getting into a top school. On the other hand, if you’re GPA is tad lower than the average but the GMAT is amazing, you still have a shot. The entire admission process is such a gamble. Even having a super high GPA and GMAT doesn’t guarantee anything because the folks in charge want to make a diverse class etc etc. So all your life you work hard, get stellar grades and GMAT and then out of sheer hard luck you’re not perceived as someone ‘unique’ or ‘exotic’ in the eyes of a couple of middle aged folks. And that is it, you’re fate is sealed.

    And I have absolutely no idea how the admission committee evaluate the GRE score. Needless to say, if anyone has any sense and have seen both the tests and how they are scored, it will be easy for them to arrive at the conclusion that the ETS convertor which the ETS people have so conveniently come up with is extremely misleading and at worst completely a fraud. Both the tests are quite different to each other and the score from one can no way be ‘converted’ into another. The folks from GMAC put up the same thing on their website back in 2009 or in 2010 but from what I’ve heard admission committees, in their vain attempt to compare GMAT scores with GRE ones, are using this faulty tool extensively. Why can’t the admission committees see that this faulty tool is a mere attempt by the ETS folks to capture some market from the GMAT folks by handing them this faulty tool and making them believe that you can somehow ‘convert’ your GRE scores into GMAT ones. Absolutely rubbish ! 

    And what essentially does the GMAT tests in the first place ? Some incredibly deceptive high school math and english which is not even going to come up in the MBA or in your duties as a business manager. I hardly believe that doing well on the GMAT can ensure that you can excel in business school and in life. I’ve seen some of the most extra ordinary, bright, motivated, talented and hard working people who end up with average scores and then some folks who are incredibly average but are just good test takers who simply turn up on the test avenue and score a 720-730 quite easily. But for those who don’t get the ‘golden’ score, the admission process is pretty much over for them right there. None of their ‘leadership’ abilities, performance in college, essays etc etc etc matter. The GMAT, as sadly put, is only a way of weeding people out of the admission process and to make lives easier for the admission committees in handling thousands of applications. I would like to know how many of these admission committee members have themselves taken the GMAT and scored a staggering 760 ?

    And then HBS has recently put up this very young director who seemingly has had a very smooth and successful ride in his life. Top performer in his undergrad university, a good stint at Bain, graduating as a Baker Scholar from HBS, back to Bain and now deciding the fates of so many of us. How can one say that he can emphasise with someone who has failed over and over again but who refuse to give up and keeps on persevering ? How can this person or for that matter so many in the admission committee realise how painful and difficult it is to repeatedly fail but still carry on ? The short and sweet answer is that there hardly would be anyone like this – be that be the new director or those in the admission committee. For anyone reading this, let me tell you that your perseverance, hard work, determination, and refusal to give up despite of repeated failures will get you way ahead in life than a judgement from inexperienced directors or from a bunch of haughty admission committee members who view you as nothing but mere numbers. Your struggles or hard work doesn’t matter to them as they will nevertheless end up with a class oozing of high GPAs and GMAT scores.

    And lastly, I hate to admit this but I had been seeing Sandy’s caustic evaluations of candidates as well as his ‘not so sweet’ ding reports. I always wondered what sort of a bitter, old man he was. But I hate to admit this that as caustic and brutal he may be, he is absolutely spot on with his judgements about the entire admission process.

  • hbsguru


  • waitingforclosure

    On the HBS waitlist from R1 (post-interview) – here’s to hoping we get some closure by next week once all the interview invites are out. Hopefully the Round 2 pool was smaller / has less sharks than anticipated…

  • Great stuff. Thanks Sandy. And I also want to refer readers to our super helpful Q&A with Sandy:


  • hbsguru

    by the way, based on round 1 interviews at HBS, the process is pretty much the same under the new adcom director.
    here is a typical HBS interview report fr. Round 1, this one fr. campus, it mixes warm up questions, resume questions, and some big think questions, and one or two fastballs, all very typical of HBS interviews–

    I had my interview yesterday with [adcom lady 1] and the observer was [adcom lady 2]. They were both extremely nice and I felt that the dialogue was very
    conversational. Overall I think it went well – most of the questions were pretty
    straightforward but the open-ended questions towards the end threw me off a

    1) When did you get into Boston

    2) Did you go to a class today

    3) Tell me about the most important piece of work you’ve done at [X

    4) What is your favorite thing you have worked on

    5) What do you think makes you good at your job

    6) What are you trying to improve on

    7) What would surprise me about you

    8) What do you do outside of work

    9) Whats an example of an industry being disrupted

    10) What would be your dream job

    11) What other struggles do you see coming up for [X Company]

    12) What was your most significant experience in college

    13) What did you think we were going to ask you about that we

    14) What else would you like to tell us

  • No. But it is generally believed that the percentage of applicants in round one who get an interview is higher.

  • Not many schools release this data, especially when volume is down. But so far three schools–Yale, Michigan Ross, and Toronto’s Rotman School–all say round one apps are up. Rotman alone is up 22%.

  • waitbutwhy

    Based on reports earlier this season, there were ~1,000 invites during R1 – is this saying there are actually more applicants in R1 (or people invited to interview) than R2 applicants?

  • FutureBschooler

    John, how is app volume for both rounds one and two at top schools so far? Will you publish a story like in previous years about schools with big gains?