Wharton | Mr. MBB to PE
GMAT 740, GPA 3.98
Stanford GSB | Mr. Equal Opportunity
GMAT 760, GPA 4.0
Chicago Booth | Mr. Community Uplift
GMAT 780, GPA 2.6
Cornell Johnson | Mr. Angel Investor
GMAT 700, GPA 3.20
Rice Jones | Mr. ToastMasters Treasurer
GMAT 730, GPA 3.7
Kellogg | Mr. MBB Private Equity
GMAT TBD (target 720+), GPA 4.0
Said Business School | Ms. Creative Planner
GMAT 690, GPA 3.81 / 5.0
Harvard | Mr. Soldier Boy
GMAT 720, GPA 3.72
Stanford GSB | Mr. Wedding Music Business
GMAT 710, GPA 3.7
Harvard | Mr. Big 4 Auditor
GMAT 740, GPA 3.55
Harvard | Mr. Software PE
GMAT 760, GPA 3.45
Harvard | Mr. First Gen Consultant
GMAT 710, GPA 4.0 (First Class Honours)
Stanford GSB | Mr. Classic Candidate
GMAT 760, GPA 3.9
Stanford GSB | Mr. MBB/FinTech
GMAT 760, GPA 3.7
Stanford GSB | Mr. Break Into Buy-Side
GMAT 780, GPA 3.6
Wharton | Mr. LatAm Indian Trader
GMAT 720, GPA 3.5
Harvard | Mr. Perseverance
GMAT 730, GPA 3.7
Stanford GSB | Mr. Politics Abroad
GRE 332, GPA 4.2/4.3
MIT Sloan | Mr. Canadian Banker
GMAT 720, GPA 3.7
Darden | Mr. Stock Up
GMAT 700, GPA 3.3
Harvard | Ms. Fintech To Tech
GMAT 740, GPA 3.54
Harvard | Ms. Finance
GMAT 760, GPA 3.48
Stanford GSB | Mr. Unrealistic Ambitions
GMAT 710, GPA 2.0
Kellogg | Mr. Kellogg 1Y
GMAT 710, GPA 3.58
Stanford GSB | Ms. CPA To MBA
GMAT 710, GPA 3.9
Harvard | Mr. Aspiring Elected Official
GMAT 670, GPA 3.8
Ross | Mr. LGBTQ PM
GMAT 710, GPA 3.91

How NOT To Blow Your Harvard Interview

Harvard Business School will begin to tell first round applicants today (Oct. 17) if they’ve passed the first admissions hurdle and will be invited for an interview. The first batch of notifications will go out at noon EST, with a second batch coming on Oct. 24.

“Only those two dates,” says HBS Director of Admissions and Financial Aid Dee Leopold in a blog post. “Nothing in between. No secret patterns as to which go out on the 17th vs. the 24th Detailed instructions will be in the invitation email.”

This will be the first time that interviewed applicants are required to write a “reflection” to be sent to Harvard within 24 hours of the interview session (see Behind Harvard’s Big Admission Changes).

In light of the change, Poets&Quants again turned to Sandy Kreisberg, the founder of HBSGuru.com, to update our story, “How NOT To Blow Your HBS Interview.” Perhaps more than anyone outside Harvard Business School’s admissions office, Kreisberg really has this down pat. He has done hundreds of mock interviews with HBS applicants over the past 20 years, and Kreisberg also has counseled several of Harvard’s 2+2 applicants who have worked with this new format and done the reflective essay.

Sandy, as you know, the HBS application is different this year. It is shorter and there is much less room for candidates to talk about their goals. Is that going to impact the HBS interview?

I’ve actually debriefed a good number of 2+2 candidates from the early summer round who used the new app (I had also given them mock interviews) and my takeaway is that the HBS interview will continue to be “same as it ever was.”  By that I mean, it will not probe things you wrote in your application, but instead ask straightforward questions like

  • Walk me through your resume?
  • Why did you attend your undergraduate school, and what was one regret about how you managed your undergrad education?
  • What advice would you give to 1. President of your college? 2. Your prior bosses? 3. Your current boss?
  • Pretend I didn’t read your app and tell me about yourself.
  • Who is someone you’ve worked with that wasn’t a direct manager that had a significant impact on you?
  • What is a question you expected me to ask?
  • What is a company inside your industry and outside your industry you admire, and why, also a CEO?
  • What is a common misperception people have when they first meet you?

Harvard’s new application reflects the most significant change in admissions to the business school since 2002 when it required interviews for all admitted candidates. Why wouldn’t the school do a change up on the interviews?

Well, I was about to say, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” but the essays last year were not broke, and they did “fix” them-and made them worse by many views (see The Early Verdict On HBS’ New App). Maybe they are just comfortable with these types of questions, versus the “behavioral” questions now sometimes asked by Stanford and Wharton and MIT.

For instance, “Tell me about a time you convinced a group about your idea?,” which is not a typical HBS question–although don’t sue me if it comes up. The purpose of the HBS interview is to weed people out, people who 1) Cannot speak English, or at least people who cannot speak English for the 30 minutes of the interview, and 2) People who are unlucky and get lost in the weeds giving one or two answers where they start out talking about topic A, and then segue to topic B and C, and then give a qualification to topic C which requires going down alley E, which is a dead-end with a big sign at the end reading: ‘YOU HAVE JUST BLOWN YOUR HBS INTERVIEW. GOOD-BYE!’

How else can a person blow an HBS interview?

Well, on occasion, Dee Leopold will give feedback to applicants who are rejected and her most common explanation for a ding is something along the lines of “you sounded scripted . . .you sounded like you were attempting to get all your points across rather than just answering the question in front of you.”  She might be saying the same thing I said about going down topics A, B, C and D instead of just cleanly answering the simple question being posed.

About The Author

John A. Byrne is the founder and editor-in-chief of C-Change Media, publishers of Poets&Quants and four other higher education websites. He has authored or co-authored more than ten books, including two New York Times bestsellers. John is the former executive editor of Businessweek, editor-in-chief of Businessweek. com, editor-in-chief of Fast Company, and the creator of the first regularly published rankings of business schools. As the co-founder of CentreCourt MBA Festivals, he hopes to meet you at the next MBA event in-person or online.