Harvard Business School: Common Mistakes To Avoid

Baker Library at Harvard Business School

If your GPA is under 3.4 and your GMAT is below 700, you likely only have a 5% chance of landing an MBA interview at Harvard Business School.

One of the world’s top B-Schools, HBS is incredibly selective about who they choose to admit. The good news is, if you are lucky enough to land an HBS interview, you have a 60% chance of getting accepted. In other words, if you’ve make it this far, you are very close to the finish line.

Stacy Blackman, founder of Stacy Blackman Consulting, recently discussed common mistakes applicants make in MBA admissions interviews and how to avoid messing up your chances at HBS.


One of the top mistakes that applicants make in MBA interviews is trying to portray themselves as the “ideal” candidate. That’s something you want to avoid, Blackman says.

“While it’s tempting to want to present yourself as the picture-perfect applicant, your interviewer is trying to understand what exactly you, and nobody else but you, can bring to the program,” Blackman writes.

At the end of the day, business schools like HBS value authenticity. Your MBA interview is an opportunity to speak candidly about your goals, interests, and journey.

“Your story should reveal how you confront life choices, the values and principles that help you negotiate complex situations, your beliefs, and your worldview,” Blackman writes. “That way, you’ll come across as a fascinating person who has a lot to share with future classmates. In short, a great addition to the HBS MBA program.”


Arrogance and confidence are two very different traits. The latter of the two is what HBS is looking for in applicants.

“There is a fine line between arrogance and confidence, and your ability to discern it will show your maturity and acumen,” Karla Cohen, an expert coach at admissions coaching firm Fortuna Admissions and former Associate Director at Harvard Business School, writes. “HBS is seeking accomplished candidates with humility. Having humility is about knowing when to credit ‘me’ or ‘we,’ and when to let your accomplishments speak for themselves to a large degree. Don’t distort or exaggerate your importance or abilities – given the company you hope to keep in the coming year, it’s vital to be honest and forthright.”


A critical component of the MBA interview is the time for applicants to ask the interviewer questions. This time is valuable both for the applicant to learn more about the MBA program as well as the interviewer to understand the applicant’s knowledge and interest.

“Come armed with a brief list of questions that highlight your knowledge of and interest in the school,” Blackman writes. “If interviewing with an alum, it’s easy to engage in a comfortable conversation about their experience at the school. Not only will you learn more about HBS, but by asking thoughtful questions, your interviewer will get another opportunity to see your insightful way of thinking.”

Sources: Stacy Blackman Consulting, P&Q, Veritas Prep, Fortuna Admissions

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