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Decision Day Looms For 2+2ers At HBS

For more than 1,000 expected applicants to Harvard Business School’s 2+2 admission program, tomorrow (April 19) at high noon is decision day. That is when the school will invite slightly under 200 undergraduate and graduate students to interview for deferred admission to HBS. If eventually admitted, those candidates would then be required to gain two to four years of work experience before starting the MBA program.

For the 2+2 candidates getting invites, the school plans to hold on-campus interviews on Monday, May 1 and Monday, May 8 as well as hub city interviews in London (April 28-30) and Menlo Park, CA (April 27 and May 4). HBS says it will use Skype as needed or requested by applicants who can’t get to an in-person interview with an HBS admissions official.

Then, on May 17th, also at noon EST, the school will likely say ‘yes’ to roughly 100 of the 2+2 candidates who then can go off to work with an HBS admit in their pockets. The most recent acceptance rate for 2+2 applicants has been exactly the same as for the regular pool: 11% (see HBS 2+2: A Low Risk Way To Get Into Harvard Business School?).

IF NOT NOW, MAYBE NEXT TIME?

The majority of this year’s 2+2 applicants who will receive dings may take some hope from earlier stats that show that rejected 2+2ers tend to do better than other re-applicants to Harvard Business School. Two years ago, for example, HBS revealed that roughly 60% of the re-applicants who were admitted and enrolled came from the regular applicant pool with the remaining 40% from the school’s 2+2 program, an extremely high percentage since 2+2 applicants make up not much more than 10% of the annual MBA applicant pool at HBS.

As Dee Leopold, who now heads up the 2+2 program, told Poets&Quants, “The deny letter to 2+2ers makes it clear that ‘not now’ does not mean ‘not ever.’ 2=2 would be a dumb idea if all the people who didn’t get into this tiny program went off and thought that HBS was not in their future” (see HBS Says Admits ‘Markedly Higher’ For 2+2 Re-Applicants).

IF YOU’RE INVITED TO AN HBS INTERVIEW, HERE’S WHAT YOU CAN EXPECT

Sandy Kreisberg, founder of HBSGuru.com

If you get an invite, what can you expect? Poets&Quants‘ again turned to prominent MBA admissions consultant Sandy Kreisberg, founder of HBSGuru.com, for some timely advice and counsel for those lucky enough to interview. Kreisberg did well over 100 mock interviews with HBS candidates last year so he also has both the background and the experience to know what to expect, what works and what doesn’t. He also shared with us reports filed back to him from clients who were interviewed during round one.

Sandy, you’ve done more than 100 mock interviews for HBS applicants during this admissions season, what is really new here?

Not much in terms of what really counts. The Golden Rules remain the same.

1. The interview is meant to weed people out, not select people (see story below).

2. The interview is mostly resume based, and focused on your ability to walk through your resume, introduce yourself, and explain key transitions, why you went to School X, why you took an internship at company A, what you learned there, what your accomplishments were, what you would do differently, etc. For each school and job on your resume be prepared to explain what you did, what you learned, what you are proud of, what you would do differently, etc. That is the bulk, and the important bulk of the HBS interview. Although sure, there are millions of variants.

3. Smart people, who can in fact speak English, screw up the HBS interview for two reasons: They talk too much and get lost, and lose track of where they are. Or they try to give exceptional, show-off answers instead of down-to-earth obvious answers.

Can you provide some color from applicants who you helped earlier this year but would most apply to a 2+2 candidate?

Sure, here are some interview report excerpts written by applicants right after they were interviewed. These are typical and strongly indicate that in terms of HBS interview process and and concerns, nothing much is “new” from what we have been reporting on for the last several years. To wit, they are looking for your ability to explain things you should be able to explain. They are not looking to trip you up, or ‘pressure test you,’ or make you cry or laugh. Here’s the list of questions some of my clients were asked.

1. What was your most meaningful experience in college? Why? What did YOU do in that involvement?
2. Was it hard to transition academically when you were a first-year? How did you like college?
3. What would you have changed about your experience?
4. What was your favorite course?
5. If you could talk to the president of your college, and give him advice about how to improve the experience, what would it be?
6. What would you do differently if you could do college over. What about in your internship?
7. How did you get your internships?
8. Tell me about the X project you did at your internship?
9. Did you get any negative feedback during your time as an intern?
10. Why 2+2?
11. What risks does 2+2 allow you to take? Give an example of a risk
12. What are your strengths? Weaknesses?
13. What is a misconception about you that people get when they first meet you?
14. What do you think will be most challenging for you at HBS?
15. What can you contribute to class discussions?
16. If you could have lunch with any business leader, who would it be and why?
17. If you could have lunch with any political leader, who would it be and why?
18. What do you hope to discover at HBS?
19. What is your dream job?
20. Is there anything else you want to tell us that u didn’t talk about in the app?