Harvard | Mr. Political Consultant
GRE 337, GPA 3.85
Stanford GSB | Mr. Singing Banking Lawyer
GMAT 720, GPA 110-point scale. Got 110/110 with honors
Berkeley Haas | Ms. 10 Years Experience
GMAT To be taken, GPA 3.1
MIT Sloan | Mr. Refinery Engineer
GMAT 700- will retake, GPA 3.87
Yale | Ms. Social Impact AKS
GRE 315, GPA 7.56
Said Business School | Mr. Across The Pond
GMAT 680, GPA 2.8
Yale | Mr. Army Infantry Officer
GMAT 730, GPA 2.83
Wharton | Mr. Army & Consulting
GMAT 760, GPA 4.0
Berkeley Haas | Mr. 360 Consultant
GMAT 720, GPA 3.4
N U Singapore | Ms. Biomanager
GMAT 520, GPA 2.8
MIT Sloan | Mr. Low GPA Over Achiever
GMAT 700, GPA 2.5
Stanford GSB | Mr. Corp Finance
GMAT 740, GPA 3.75
Harvard | Mr. Improve Healthcare
GMAT 730, GPA 2.8
Berkeley Haas | Mr. Wake Up & Grind
GMAT 700, GPA 3.5
Darden | Mr. Fintech Nerd
GMAT 740, GPA 7.7/10
Stanford GSB | Mr. Minority Champ
GMAT 740, GPA 3.7
Darden | Mr. Senior Energy Engineer
GMAT 710, GPA 2.5
Harvard | Mr. Merchant Of Debt
GMAT 760, GPA 3.5 / 4.0 in Master 1 / 4.0 in Master 2
Stanford GSB | Mr. Indian Telecom ENG
GRE 340, GPA 3.56
Stanford GSB | Ms. East Africa Specialist
GMAT 690, GPA 3.34
Berkeley Haas | Mr. Hanging By A Thread
GMAT 710, GPA 3.8
Harvard | Mr. Nonprofit Social Entrepreneur
GMAT 740, GPA 3.7
Chicago Booth | Ms. Start-Up Entrepreneur
GRE 318 current; 324 intended, GPA 3.4
Duke Fuqua | Ms. Health Care Executive
GMAT 690, GPA 3.3
Harvard | Mr. Professional Boy Scout
GMAT 660, GPA 3.83
IU Kelley | Mr. Construction Manager
GRE 680, GPA 3.02
IU Kelley | Mr. Clinical Trial Ops
GMAT Waived, GPA 3.33

Routine Or Oddball, These Are The Questions Harvard Asks MBA Applicants

What exactly can you expect if you have been invited to interview with an admissions staffer at Harvard Business School?

The best people to answer that question are the applicants who went through the process themselves and are now MBA students at Harvard. They dish the answers in all their brutal and candid detail in the 2020-2021 MBA Admissions & Interview Guide published today (Oct. 7) by the editors of The Harbus, the MBA student newspaper at Harvard Business School. It couldn’t have come at a better time since HBS only yesterday sent round one applicant’s interview invites.

But the $66.63 guide, available via download here, isn’t only for HBS candidates. The proceeds go to support the non-profit organization that publishes HBS’ newspaper website. Most of the questions and insights into how to answer them would benefit any MBA student walking into a high-stakes admissions interview. The updated guide includes more than 150 actual interview questions students were asked in their own interviews. Plus, there are nearly two dozen examples of the post-interview reflection emails that HBS requires of interviewed applicants within 24 hours.


But this guide doesn’t merely list the questions. Even more valuable is the expanded analysis and commentary on how to approach each interview question. You can agree or disagree with these assessments written by the students who had to answer these questions but they’ll nonetheless provoke deeper thought. A couple of examples:

Do you have a dream place to work and why?

This is an oddball question. A good way to navigate this question could be to relate it with your goals as stated in your essay. Use your values to outline what elements matter to you most, for instance – impact, work-life balance, passion, etc. Use these elements to piece together a clear picture of your ideal workplace. Keep a few examples of companies handy.

What is something unique you would bring to the classroom?

It is important to get this question right as HBS tries to optimize for different viewpoints in the classroom in order to make the classroom experience as diverse as possible. Most HBS students are likely to have a similar level of academic or professional achievement, hence what truly differentiates you are the experiences you have gathered and how they have shaped you as a person. Keep a set of your authentic personal and professional experiences handy and what elements of those experiences you can bring to the classroom.


So what are the most routine questions you might face? The most common one is simple: “Walk me through your resume.”

And the advice from HBS students on how to best handle it?

Make your resume a narrative rather than merely relating 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. Mention it, own it, and move on. Turn it into a period of personal development by sharing what you did to keep busy. 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 go on and on about your college experience to the detriment of your more relevant work experience.

Among the more routine, even humdrum, questions to expect:

You wrote about this story in your essay, can you give us more details about this aspect?

How did you decide to attend your undergraduate college? Why did you choose your undergraduate major/field of study?

What would you change about your undergraduate experience?

Please tell me about three failures you have had.

What is your greatest weakness?


And then, there are the tricky or oddball questions.

If you could change one thing about the organization what would it be? 

It is 6 months after the MBA. Monday morning. What will you be doing? 

How did you prepare for this interview? 

What is one thing I’d never have guessed about you, even after reading your application? 

Describe something that you should start doing, do more of, and do less of? 

Do you read for fun? What was the last book you read? 

What is the most interesting conversation you have had this week? 

What’s the one thing you’ll never be as good at as others? 

What have you heard about HBS that gives you pause? 

That last question is likely to give plenty of applicants pause. Do you say something that is potentially negative about the school? Or do you punt and say something safe?

Here’s the advice on how to answer that one:

This is a very difficult question that challenges you to give a critical assessment of HBS without sounding too critical. In your research on the school, surely you heard something negative amid all the rave reviews! Think back to any conversations you had with current students and try to remember if they said anything themselves about how HBS could improve. When you give your answer, begin with the critique and explain it fully, but then show how you have thought carefully about the issue, how you plan to confront it (or why you think it isn’t actually an issue) and why HBS is still the place you want to be.


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.