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COVID Forces All MBA Admissions Interviews At Harvard Online

An aerial view of the Harvard Business School campus

Harvard Business School is moving all of its MBA admission interviews for the forthcoming 2020-2021 application cycle online due to coronavirus outbreak.

“Given the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we have made the decision to conduct all of our interviews virtually during the 2020-2021 application year,” announced Chad Losee, managing director of admissions and financial aid at Harvard Business School. “We feel this approach best meets potential health and safety concerns while enabling us to get to know you and make admissions decisions.”

In a typical year, fewer than two of every ten applicants are interviewed by an HBS admissions staffer either on campus or via Skype if a candidate is unable to visit the campus in Boston. Then, for every ten people HBS interviews, the school will admit six to seven people (see Harvard MBA Dings Go Out Oct. 1: ‘Feel Like I’m Going To Puke’). Losee made the announcement in a blog post.


Harvard Business School’s Chad Lossee

Admission consultants do not expect any changes in admission policies as a result of the shift online. “The time invested by the admissions office will be the same,” says Linda Abraham, founder of “They will still need to review the application and prep for the interview. They will also need to have the interview, which typically is 30 minutes.  The HBS admissions office’s investment is unchanged.  HBS was also doing some virtual interviews even before COVID for applicants that had difficulty getting to their hubs or office. If HBS anticipates a lower yield, they may interview more and extend more offers or waitlist more, but I don’t think the move to virtual is going to be the catalyst.”

Chad Losee, managing director of admissions and financial aid at HBS, said as much in a brief blog post announcing the change to virtual interviewing. “Rest assured,” he wrote, “the interviews will still play the same role in our admissions process. All interviews will continue to be conducted by our Interview Board—a small group of about 25 individuals, who are trained and conduct many interviews per year. For each interview, we prepare as we would for a case discussion—having thoroughly read your application and ready for an interesting and dynamic conversation with you. That will not change in our virtual interview format.

Losee, who called the interview “a highlight of the application process for us,” added that the 30-minute sessions “invariably…fly by. For many years, we have conducted virtual interviews for candidates who could not travel to one of our hub cities, and this summer we conducted all of our 2+2 interviews virtually. We are confident the interview experience in this upcoming year will be a great one.”


HBS admissions, Losee added, will also be developing ways for you to engage with the HBS community virtually as applicants go through the admissions process.

Harvard has established a round one deadline of Sept. 8 to apply for its MBA Class of 2023. That cutoff date is four days later than last year’s R1 deadline. The second and final deadline at HBS would be a day earlier: Jan. 5. For candidates who apply by the R1 deadline, Harvard is guaranteeing a final decision by Dec. 10th for applicants who gain an admissions interview. Losee has not yet announced when that first batch of interview invites will go out but last year invites were released on Oct. 1 for round one candidates.

For those who meet the R2 deadline, final decisions would be released on March 30. For R2 applicants, interview invites went out on Feb. 4.

Last year, applications to Harvard Business School‘s MBA program fell for the second consecutive year by 6.7% to 9,228 applicants in 2018-2019 from 9,886 a year earlier. Over the past two years, Harvard has lost 1,123 applicants, representing a 10.8% slide in applications, from 10,351 in 2017-2018 when applicants topped 6% the 10,000-mark for the first time since 2002. The school accepts about 12% of its applicants and the majority of them apply in round two.



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.