Kenan-Flagler | Mr. Engineer In The Military
GRE 310, GPA 3.9
Wharton | Mr. Renewable Energy Consultant
GRE 320, GPA 3.3
Duke Fuqua | Ms. Health Care Executive
GMAT 690, GPA 3.3
Columbia | Mr. Government Shipyard
GMAT 660, GPA 3.85
Stanford GSB | Mr. Entrepreneurial Writer
GMAT 700, GPA 3.8
Tepper | Mr. Technology & Community
GMAT 650 Practice Test, GPA 3.05
Cambridge Judge Business School | Ms. Story-Teller To Data-Cruncher
GMAT 700 (anticipated), GPA 3.5 (converted from Australia)
UCLA Anderson | Ms. Apparel Entrepreneur
GMAT 690, GPA 3.2
Duke Fuqua | Mr. Backyard Homesteader
GRE 327, GPA 3.90
Kellogg | Mr. Military In Silicon Valley
GMAT 720, GPA 3.0
INSEAD | Mr. Typical Indian ENG
GRE 322, GPA 8.8/10
Wharton | Mr. Chemical Engineering Dad
GMAT 710, GPA 3.50
Cornell Johnson | Mr. Long-Term Vision
GMAT 710, GPA 3.28
Yale | Mr. Hedge Fund To FinTech
GMAT 740, GPA 61.5
Cornell Johnson | Ms. Chef Instructor
GMAT 760, GPA 3.3
Cornell Johnson | Mr. Electric Vehicles Product Strategist
GRE 331, GPA 3.8
Ross | Ms. Packaging Manager
GMAT 730, GPA 3.47
Stanford GSB | Ms. Healthcare Operations To General Management
GRE 700, GPA 7.3
Tuck | Ms. Women-Focused Ventures
GRE 321, GPA 2.89
Cornell Johnson | Ms. Healthcare Worker
GMAT 670, GPA 4
Harvard | Mr. French Economist
GMAT 710, GPA 15.3/20 in the French grading system 3.75-4.0/4.0 after conversion
Stanford GSB | Ms. Independent Consultant
GMAT 750, GPA 3.5
Berkeley Haas | Mr. Bangladeshi Data Scientist
GMAT 760, GPA 3.33
Stanford GSB | Ms. 2+2 Tech Girl
GRE 333, GPA 3.95
Ross | Mr. Automotive Compliance Professional
GMAT 710, GPA 3.7
Wharton | Mr. Digi-Transformer
GMAT 680, GPA 4
Chicago Booth | Ms. CS Engineer To Consultant
GMAT 720, GPA 3.31

How NOT To Blow Your HBS Interview

Sandy Kreisberg, founder of HBSGuru.com

Sandy Kreisberg, founder of HBSGuru.com

Are there any new questions, new oddballs, based on your experience? 

In light of what I just said, why would you want to know that?

Because those more frequently asked questions are rather boring. Besides, I am a sadist and our readers want to know.

How about these:

What would you say to [President Obama, Hillary Clinton, President of your university or company] if you had 10 minutes?

Recommend a book to Vladimir Putin, and why?

What is your favorite iPhone application?

What is the worst thing that has ever happened to you in public?

What will you regret not doing at HBS?

Introduce yourself to God.

As a lapsed Catholic, that last one could get me in trouble. Anyway, if you made it to this stage, it’s a big deal. The interview is the only thing separating you from a seat in the class, right?

Yes, but it’s like being born. It’s a special passage where awful things can happen. Tremendous damage can occur in a very short period of time. You should worry about it, and you should prepare for it.

Sandy, what’s the most common misperception about these interviews?

Some think this is like an audition for a symphony orchestra where the conductor is choosing one violinist out of ten and you have to be .001 better than nine other people. It’s not that. It’s more like an audition for a marching band. You just have to be able to bang a drum in terms of talent and not appear to be arrogant, inward, unsure of yourself, confused or most importantly, someone they do not want in the band.

At Harvard, that means if they interview ten people, they will reject one with marginal English right out of the box. If you can’t speak English, you’re done. You won’t be able to survive. Then, of the remaining nine English speakers, one to two people might have a meltdown of some kind. They have a bad hair day or a bad tongue day. So the way that smart people blow the Harvard interview is to have a bad half hour.

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.

There is also a relatively new part to the interview process which actually began two years ago. It’s the so-called reflection essay in 400 words or less which applicants need to write and submit within 24 hours of the interview. What has that been like?

It’s like a pain but it does not mean much. It’s like doing all the prep and anxiety for a colonoscopy, and then having the colonoscopy, and then having the doctor tell you at the end, “OK, the colonoscopy is over, but instead of being relieved, and returning to your normal bowel habits, we’d like you to drink this pitcher of beer and not pee for 24 hours– yes, that is right, there is one more annoyance here before we are rid of you.”

And Dee Leopold is selling this annoyance as allowing the applicant to “have the last word.” I giggle. Also, I think they misjudged greatly the logistics of that 24-hour rule. A lot of applicants, especially outside the U.S., squeeze in the HBS interview by taking a day or two off from work and travelling to campus for it. So instead of hurrying back to work, they now have to find time to do that essay. Really annoying and silly, quite frankly.

Well, that’s what they will be required to do when they are in the real work world. You use the Wifi in the airport or you hop on a plane and get stuff done. In any case, how important do you think this essay will ultimately be in the decision to admit or deny?

They have already downgraded this exercise on Dee’s Director’s Blog last year as not really being an essay but more of an email. They don’t want it overwrought. They want it to be informal. Great, so now spend hours doing that. The prompt is sort of, “Is there anything else you’d like to say to help us get to know you?”

I have read many, many of those reflection essays, and I can barely think of one instance where it changed an outcome. If you messed up the interview, saying that in the essay and adding that it won’t happen again will not help. It’s dead men writing emails. If you have five reasons why you want to be an investment banker and you only mentioned two in the interview, well, listing the other three in the reflective email won’t help, either. As with so much about this process, the added air time can probably hurt you more than help you. Some reflective essays confirm interview takeaways, for example, ‘This kid is controlled, calculated and unpleasant.” That is actually a meme for dinging kids from Bain. Well, the bad Bain. I got lots of hommies there, too, but it applies to other kids as well.

Most people just say something like,  “Thanks, it was great talking to you about 1, 2 and 3, which are important to me, I also do A and B which did not come up, but are also important to me, and I am still really gung-ho about coming to HBS.”

Yes, and they stay up for 24 hours composing that little ditty. My guess is, not one of these “reflections” is going to make a difference, and they will barely be read. It does answer a common question, however, should you send a post-interview thank-you note? Well, the answer to that was always no, but now it is easier. You can turn some part of this reflection into a nominal thank-you note.

DON’T MISS: WHAT IT’S REALLY LIKE TO GO TO HARVARD BUSINESS SCHOOL

Page 2 of 4