“I interviewed yesterday with Adcom Person 1 (interviewer) and Adcom Person 2 (observer). Overall I think it went well. It was very focused on my experiences that I’ve had in the past few years. They were both friendly and the tone was conversational. They asked me the following questions:
What has made me successful at consulting firm
Asked several specific questions about some of my cases (probably spent ~7-10 minutes on this)
Asked about a time a client was pushing back or being passive aggressive
How my skills from one case have transferred to another case
What I liked to do for fun
If there was anything else I wanted to talk about”
The interview went pretty well. The questions were all pretty straightforward, many from the lists you provided, while many were tailored to my resume. No real surprises, nothing from out in left field.
My interview was on campus at HBS. [Women 1 and 2] interviewed me. Woman 2 was the observer. Woman 1 asked me the following questions:
When did you arrive in Boston, and what have you been doing since arriving?
Did you go to a class? What did you think of it?
Woman 2, the observer, has seen your resume but not your full application. Can you introduce yourself to her, with the objective of explaining why you have ended up where you are?
What do you want to do after graduate school?
You wrote in your essay about [x experience] [lots of follow up questions]
What is a sector are you currently looking into, and what makes it interesting from an investment perspective?
What was your favorite deal at the investment bank you worked at? [follow up questions]
What’s a company you admire and why? [follow up questions]
Sandy, that’s going to be really helpful to a lot of candidates. I think those questions also very predictable and in a way reassuring. But is it really fair to say the interview is meant to weed out people?
I talk to lots of people who have been interviewed and then get official feedback from HBS, which is something they offer in various formats for applicants who have been dinged after interview (but not to applicants who have not been interviewed). By far, the biggest reason given for the ding is an interview screw up. Here is a typical example, “Dee said that I should try to “interview in more real-time, not try and come across too polished or canned…. Here’s a quote she read me from my interview report, ‘seemed like he was worried about getting all of his points across in 30 minutes’”.
So what is the take away from that?
The biggest mistake people make in preparing for the HBS interview is worrying about trick questions. In fact, the Poets&Quants’ story The Most Unpredictable Questions HBS Asks is something of a disservice because those “oddball” questions get people preparing clever answers and searching for more oddball questions.
Hey, I love that story and those questions are real. So which oddball questions are you talking about?
Here are some of them:
What are the two best pieces of advice you have been given, and why?
What do you want to be remembered as?
What is your definition of a leader? How do you fit that definition?
How do you make big decisions?
How would your parents describe you when you were twelve?
What is one thing I’d never have guessed about you, even after reading your application?
What is the one thing you would like me to remember about you?
And now, John, by reprinting them we have put the elephant in the room and people reading this will do just that. Think about oddball questions and clever answers. That was cruel fun, but my advice to applicants facing interviews is NOT to do that.