HBS MBA Interview Overview.
Harvard Business School interviews are by invitation only. HBS extends interviews to about 20% of its MBA applicants each year.
The Harvard Business School MBA program conducts application-based interviews. That means that the interviewer will have reviewed your entire application (and possibly your LinkedIn) before meeting with you. In fact, at Harvard, the interview questions you get will have been tailored to you specifically.
Where? On-campus or off-campus in hub cities. With Whom? Only admissions officers.
Harvard Business School allows MBA candidates to choose between interviewing on-campus in Cambridge or interviewing in a hub city. Regardless of where you interview, at HBS you’ll be interviewed by trained admissions committee members. In fact, there will be two of them in the room with you (one will take notes and the other will ask questions). In certain cases Harvard will arrange for a Skype interview.
Influence of interview on admissions decision? High.
When a school relies primarily on students and alumni to conduct interviews, the interview carries less weight in the admissions decision process (relative to admissions committee-led interviews). By extension, the written application takes on greater importance. MBA programs with student or alumni-led interviews include: Berkeley Haas, Chicago Booth, Columbia, Dartmouth Tuck, Duke Fuqua, INSEAD, Kellogg, London Business School, Michigan Ross, Stanford, UCLA Anderson, Wharton, and Yale.
When a school relies exclusively (or nearly exclusively) on a small group of trained admissions committee members to conduct interviews, the interview plays a greater role in the admissions process (relative to student/alumni-led interviews). MBA programs with admissions committee-led interviews include: Harvard Business School, MIT Sloan, UVA Darden and NYU Stern.
HBS MBA Post-Interview Reflection.
Need help with your HBS post-interview reflection? If you plan to write the reflection yourself and would like strategic feedback the Content Review Service may be a good fit ($20/100 words submitted). If you’re not a strong writer and would like the post-interview reflection written for you, then look into the a la carte Essay Writing Service (HBS’s post-interview reflection is considered a short essay and runs $300).
HBS asks all students who interview to submit a post-interview reflection within 24 hours of completing their interview. This is an opportunity for you to clarify or expand on topics covered in your interview, share your impressions and thank your interviewer for his or her interest in your candidacy. ‘It’s very interesting for us to hear how well we did get to know you. We certainly have our impressions from the interview and we do our best to be fair and as objective as possible, but then it’s really important for us to understand how you as the applicant have experienced that’.
Guidance from HBS on the Post-Interview Reflection: The post-interview reflection is not intended to be another formal essay. Think of it instead as an email you might write to a colleague or supervisor after a meeting. We will be much more generous in our reaction to typos and grammatical errors than we will be with pre-packaged responses. Emails that give any indication that they were produced BEFORE you had the interview will raise a flag for us. We do not expect you to solicit or receive any outside assistance with this exercise. Your Post-Interview Reflection is due within 24 hours of the conclusion of your interview. There is no word limit for the Post-Interview Reflection.
Dear Mr. Smith,
Thank you for taking the time to speak with me today. It was a pleasure to meet you and an honor to have been selected to interview for a place in the HBS Class of 2019.
I’d like to briefly touch on some of the topics we covered in our discussion, in particular, my role at Boeing and my knowledge of the aerospace industry.
At Boeing, I work for Interiors, one of 6 divisions within our aerospace group. The Interiors division has annual sales of $1.1B and is run by two General Managers, Kate Jones, who is one of my recommenders, and Tom Smith. Although I support Kate and Tom with standard performance reporting – both financial and operational, I also carry out special assignments on a regular basis. My most recent posting was to our Houston site where I spent three months working with the program management team to optimize their business processes and improve client relations.
We spent a significant amount of our time discussing the aerospace industry and, more specifically, the strategy, competitive landscape and future of Boeing’s Interiors Division. In Interiors we manufacture everything one finds inside an airplane and so our products are directly linked to the in-flight passenger experience. Passenger experience is one of the few ways airlines can still differentiate themselves – offering a more comfortable seat, better entertainment options and internet connectivity. It’s an exciting time for our business and with an open offer to return to Boeing, I envision myself advancing to a General Manager role within our Interiors Division post-MBA.
In my essay, I mentioned that growing up with immigrant parents meant developing a strong sense of self-reliance at an early age. During our discussion, you asked a question about being self-reliant and later asked about its connection to potentially struggling in a group or teamwork setting. I can see the logic behind that line of questioning but in my personal experience, being self-reliant and a team player haven’t been mutually exclusive qualities. In fact, I think that not being able to rely solely on my parents meant that I needed to be more affiliative than average – soliciting advice from peers and other adults as a teen.
In my professional life I work closely with each of our businesses on a daily basis and I believe that the team in Colorado Springs would describe me as a team player who is willing to roll up their sleeves up to help out others out and who genuinely wants our business to succeed.
In closing, I wanted to share with you my desire to attend HBS. I believe the case study method coupled with the intelligent, engaged and diverse student body would do a lot to prepare me to make the type of complex, and sometimes tough, decisions I’ll be faced with as I advance in my career.
Once again, thank you for speaking with me today and giving me the opportunity to share my story – I found the interview to be thought-provoking and enjoyable.
Mock MBA Interview.
While each MBA program has a slightly different approach to the types of questions asked in interview, generally speaking there are no big surprises. The goal of the average interviewer at the average school isn’t to throw you curve balls but to offer up questions that give you the opportunity to highlight your professional and personal accomplishments, your strengths/weaknesses, your goals, decision to pursue an MBA and why their school is of interest to you in particular.
HBS is not the average school. Harvard’s trained admissions officers spend time reading through your application (resume, essays and recommendations) to craft a bespoke set of interview questions. This makes preparing for any one, specific, question more of a futile endeavor than it would be at other schools (the ones with predictable questions like Why Tuck?).
You can prepare for Harvard by doing mock interviews. Your goal should be to get better at fielding questions on the fly with thoughtfulness and poise. When faced with an impending HBS MBA interview, you may be tempted to scour the internet and amass an exhaustive list of interview questions. What will you do with all those questions? Most Harvard MBA interviewees will think through answers to each and every one in their head. Sometimes they’ll write out their exact answers on paper and then practice them verbatim. The problem with those approaches is that the first one isn’t very efficient and then second one will leave you sounding robotic when you rattle off your answer out loud.
When I work with Harvard MBA candidates during a mock interview session, we cover a hand picked set of questions (based on the application materials provided). In addition, we may delve into more traditional MBA interview questions like Tell me about yourself? What are your goals? Why MBA? Why school X?, Strengths/Weakness? as well as behavioral questions Tell me about a time when…? to develop a core set of stories. Most people have just 4-6 core stories. I teach clients to leverage a single story to answer multiple interview questions.
Harvard MBA Interview Questions.
Below you’ll find mock interview sequences from Harvard MBA interviews. Studying the sequences will give you a sense of what sort of questions tend to come up.
Harvard MBA Mock Interview Questions 1
- How do you want to start?
- Being a student athlete obviously required time management. What tips could you give someone about time management?
- Why did you major in economics?
- Tell me about current company?
- Tell me about your transition between companies.
- How have recent changes in laws affected the credit card industry?
- What has been the biggest difference in the two roles?
- What experiences have highlighted those differences?
- What do you like to do for fun?
- How would you explain equity research to undergraduates in college?
- What is your dream job?
- Anything else you would like to add?
HBS MBA Mock Interview Questions 2
- Tell me about yourself.
- Did you go to company Z because your dad worked there?
- Who is a leader you admire and why? What do you need to do to get to that leader’s level and how will HBS help you?
- What are your goals further down the road?
- What are you following in the news?
- Argue for and against Starbucks’ not paying a high tax rate.
- Recommend something to me.
- Explain something to us.
- What’s the hardest part of your job?
- What is some constructive feedback you gave recently?
- Is there anything else you wish we’d covered?
- How have you had such great experiences while traveling?
Harvard MBA Mock Interview Questions 3
- Tell me about yourself.
- Tell me about the assisted living industry (Follow-up questions included: Who are the best-in-class operators? Describe the assisted living customer. How will the industry evolve over the next 5-10 years?).
- Drawing from your experience at PE firm X and consulting firm Y, tell me about your favorite project
- Given the increasing amount of capital chasing deals, what is your prognosis of the future of the PE industry?
- Now that you’ve experience both Consulting and PE, do you have a sense for which you prefer/where you’d like to focus in the future?
- What role has tennis played in your life?
- Which of the two businesses you founded was your favorite?
- Anything else you’d like to share with us?
HBS MBA Mock Interview Questions 4
- When did you get to Boston? Have you gotten to see campus yet?
- Pretend that I haven’t read your application – tell me about yourself.
- What industry do you want to learn more about? Why?
- What preconceptions did you have?
- Why did you choose to extern at company X location?
- What has been your favorite case thus far?
- How would your peers/colleagues describe you?
- What are your greatest faults and areas in need of improvement?
- Do you like New York? What would you miss about it?
- Tell me about specific college activity you were involved in. Are you still involved? Have you heard of similar organization?
- From your resume I can tell that you are interested in public policy, how do you still stay involved with that interest?
- What is your short-term career goal?
- What would your ideal summer internship be between your first and second year of business school?
- I know it’s still in its early stage, but if you had to start your company right now, what would it look like?
- What are the industries that are doing well in South America currently?
- How is Bolivia different from Peru and other countries in South America?
- If you go to HBS next year, what type of people do you want sitting next to you? Why?
- What do you like to do for fun?
- What book are you reading currently? Tell me about it.
- Is there anything that I haven’t asked that you wish I had, or anything else that you would like to add?
- Would you be willing to move to South America to start your company?
- Could you run your business out of Miami?
Harvard MBA Mock Interview Questions 5
- Tell me your chronology, starting with decision to go to boarding school.
- What did it feel like to not be challenged before transferring schools?
- Lots of questions about work – before and after our company was acquired
- Tell me about this story from your essay.
- Teach me something I don’t know based on what you’ve learned in your job.
- What do you want to do in the short-term?
- What are you reading right now?
- What are you following in the news?
- (Behavioral Question) Tell me about a time when you had to learn a technical skill at work.
- I want you to argue for and against this phrase’Work Hard Play Hard’
- What three things differentiate you from other people?
- Of those three, pick one and tell me when it can be good and bad?
- Do you work best sharing your opinion in small groups, large groups, or on paper?
- Are there any questions we can answer for you?
HBS MBA Mock Interview Questions 6
- Why University X and why physics?
- How did NROTC add to your experience?
- When did you know you wanted to work at organization Y?
- When did you decide to pursue the masters degree?
- Pretend we don’t know anything about it (and we don’t), and tell us how you unload a nuclear container?
- Tell me about how you improved the unloading process?
- Why do we need to convert a submarine into a training platform?
- If we invited your coworkers into the room, what would they say are two of your strengths and two opportunities for improvement?
- Imagine HBS is a box, how do you think you would come out of here differently than when you came in?
- What’s a company that you admire outside of the military?
- What do you think worries the CEO?
- How do you get your news?
- What do you think about the situation in the Philippines?
- We have about a minute left, anything else you would like to say?