Wharton | Mr. Rural Ed To International Business
GRE 329, GPA 3.6
McCombs School of Business | Mr. CRE
GMAT 625, GPA 3.4
IU Kelley | Mr. Jiu-Jitsu Account Admin
GMAT 500, GPA 3.23
Wharton | Mr. Sales From Law School
GMAT 700, GPA 11/20
Yale | Mr. Tambourine Man
GMAT 740, GPA 3.3
Berkeley Haas | Mr. LGBT+CPG
GMAT 720, GPA 3.95
Kellogg | Mr. Community Involvement
GMAT 600, GPA 3.2
Harvard | Mr. Air Force Seeking Feedback
GRE 329, GPA 3.2
Columbia | Mr. URM Artillery Officer
GRE 317, GPA 3.65
Kellogg | Mr. Engineer To PM
GMAT 710, GPA 4.0 (with Honors)
Harvard | Ms. Eternal Optimism
GMAT 720, GPA 4.0 (First Class Honours)
Harvard | Mr. Captain Mishra
GMAT 760, GPA 4.0
Stanford GSB | Ms. Lady Programmer
GRE 331, GPA 2.9
Ross | Mr. Double Eagle
GMAT 740, GPA 3.77
Stanford GSB | Ms. Eyebrows Say It All
GRE 299, GPA 8.2/10
Harvard | Mr. UHNW Family Office
GMAT 730, GPA 4.0
Harvard | Mr. Certain Government Guy
GMAT 720, GPA 3.3
Stanford GSB | Mr. Hopeful B School Investment Analyst
GRE 334, GPA 4.0
Berkeley Haas | Mr. Stuck Consultant
GMAT 760, GPA 3.6
MIT Sloan | Mr. Mechanical Engineer W/ CFA Level 2
GMAT 760, GPA 3.83/4.0 WES Conversion
Wharton | Mr. Asset Manager – Research Associate
GMAT 730, GPA 3.6
Chicago Booth | Mr. International Banker
GMAT 700, GPA 3.4
MIT Sloan | Mr. South East Asian Product Manager
GMAT 720, GPA 3.6
Harvard | Ms. Hollywood To Healthcare
GMAT 730, GPA 2.5
Stanford GSB | Ms. Investor To Fintech
GMAT 750, GPA 3.8
Kellogg | Mr. Structural Engineer
GMAT 680, GPA 3.2
Darden | Mr. Anxious One
GRE 323, GPA 3.85

The Dillon House Questions: What Harvard Asks MBA Applicants

Dillon House is where Harvard Business School makes all of its admission decisions.

What kinds of questions do Harvard Business School applicants have to answer before they are finally accepted or rejected for admission?

The editors of the HBS student newspaper, The Harbus, have just published the “2011 Unofficial Harvard Business School Interview Guide ” that offers not merely questions asked by admissions but guidance from current MBA students on how to best answer them. Among other things, the new guide, available via PDF for $35, lists 50 questions with detailed advice. As its authors put it, “all questions come from current students, meaning you’ll be just one or, at most, two years removed from their interview experiences. Likewise, the analysis we provide comes not from ‘recent applicants’ but from those who got in, enrolled, and are now immersed in HBS culture.”


The guide offers some smart counsel on how to prep for an interview, including a step-by-step walkthrough of things the editors suggest you do a week before the sit-down session, the day before, and the day of the interview. It also offers a lot of quirky suggestions on your ideal appearance for an interview: For women, the editors recommend no cleavage and shaved legs. For men, they urge no baggy suits or mismatched ties.

More importantly, though, the guide serves up actual questions asked of applicants, many of which would be equally effective in typical job interviews. Many of them are fairly typical “walk-me-through-your-resume” or “tell-me-about-a–challenging-situation-and-how-you-overcame-it” kinds of queries. But then there are the oddball questions thrown to applicants that can puzzle, if not startle. Examples: “Imagine the HBS classroom was an orchestra. What kind of instrument would you be and why?” Or, what some might call the quintessential Miss America question: “If you had 30 seconds to speak to the United States as a whole, what would you say and why?” Or, believe it or not, this odd curve ball: “What is one product you can’t live without?”

Catherine Leary Tomezsko, general manager of The Harbus, believes the most valuable section of the guide is the analysis accompanying each of the 50 questions. It’s largely cobbled together from the comments of 20 current MBA students who are on the board of The Harbus News Corporation. “We sit down with the board and ask, ‘What do you think you did wrong? How could you have done better?’” The newspaper first began publishing the guide last year and has had “enormously positive feedback” from users, adds Tomezsko. The Harbus plans to launch a separate website, hbsinterview.com, to sell the guide in early March. The proceeds will go to non-profit educational ventures in the Boston area.


The editors say that the analysis “is in no way intended to provide scripted responses” for the roughly 1,800 applicants annually interviewed by staffers at Dillon House where HBS admissions is based. “Every applicant is different and every interviewer is different, so any attempt to put words in your mouth would surely do far more harm than good,” according to the guide. “Rather, we’re hoping only to get your creative juices flowing and to give you an idea of what lines you should be thinking along, what traps to be sure to avoid, what sorts of things your interviewer will likely want to hear, and so on. But most importantly, be genuine, because that’s what every interviewer is looking to see.”

With the permission of The Harbus, we offer a small sample of some of the “personal” questions along with the accompanying analysis from currently enrolled HBS students:

Walk me though your resume.

“Make your resume tell a story rather than merely relate a series of unconnected events. Focus on upward progression. If there’s a gap in your resume – perhaps from a period of unemployment – don’t shy away from that but also don’t dwell on it. Just mention it and move on. Now more than ever, the Admissions team will understand – even expect – brief periods of unemployment. Also be sure to cap your time. Keep your “walk” to 5 minutes, and don’t spend all your time in one area versus another. For example, don’t dwell on your college experience to the detriment of your actual relevant work experience.”

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