Tag Archives: Harvard Business School

Ace Your Harvard Business School Interview

Harvard Business School interviews just 25% of applicants each season. On the bright side, HBS admits about half of interviewed candidates, so if you can successfully pass this hurdle in the application process, your chances …

HBS interview tips

Harvard Business School interviews just 25% of applicants each season. On the bright side, HBS admits about half of interviewed candidates, so if you can successfully pass this hurdle in the application process, your chances of admission skyrocket.

As I explained in my recent article published in Business Insider, the admissions team seeks applicants who can demonstrate that they share the values central to HBS culture: passion, self-awareness, maturity, integrity, focus on solutions, high-impact leadership, and case-method compatibility.

While you can’t predict which specific questions will come up during your interview, you can expect the types of questions to fall into three broad categories representing your past, present, and future. The interviewer will probe in great depth about your career goals, professional choices, and interest in the MBA program. He or she will be very familiar with your essays — so familiar, in fact, that your interviewer will seem determined to find a “hole” in your story.

The anecdotes you share about your past experiences — both successes and failures — will give the interviewer some insight into your self-awareness and maturity. Your story should reveal how you confront life choices, the values and principles that help you negotiate complex situations, your beliefs, and your worldview.

Expect to receive a number of questions that will help interviewers gauge how life has tested you, and how you responded to that test.

As you prepare for the interview, focus on the experiences, anecdotes, and answers that will showcase your strengths. To learn exactly how to successfully wow your interviewer for a shot of admission at this ultra-elite school, click on over to Business Insider to continue reading my article with the best HBS interview tips.

You may also be interested in:

5 Tips for Harvard Business School Applicants
Advice for the Harvard Business School Admissions Essay

Image credit: Flickr user Florian Pilz (CC BY 2.0)

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US News Announces 2018 Ranking of Best Business Schools

U.S. News & World Report has released the 2018 Best Graduate Schools rankings, designed to help prospective students research programs across six disciplines and evaluate the potential return on their investment. In this year’s full-time MBA rankings, …

U.S. News & World Report has released the 2018 Best Graduate Schools rankings, designed to help prospective students research programs across six disciplines and evaluate the potential return on their investment.

Harvard Business School interview

In this year’s full-time MBA rankings, Harvard Business School and the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School have tied for the No. 1 program in the country. The University of Chicago Booth School of Business holds the No. 3 spot, and the Stanford Graduate School of Business drops from last year’s second place to share fourth place with MIT Sloan School of Management and Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management.

Among part-time MBA programs, the UC Berkeley Haas School of Business once again retains the top spot, followed by Chicago’s Booth School of Business at No. 2. The NYU Stern School of Business and UCLA Anderson School of Management tie at third place.

US News’s Best Business Schools

  • Harvard Business School (#1 tie)
  • Wharton School (#1 tie)
  • Chicago Booth School of Business (#3)
  • Stanford Graduate School of Business (#4 tie)
  • MIT Sloan School of Management (#4 tie)
  • Kellogg School of Management (#4 tie)
  • UC Berkeley Haas School of Business (#7)
  • Tuck School of Business (#8)
  • Columbia Business School (#9 tie)
  • Yale School of Management  (#9 tie)

The six graduate disciplines U.S. News ranks annually are evaluated on factors such as employment rates for graduates, starting salary and standardized test scores of newly enrolled students. Because each graduate program is different, the rankings methodology varies across disciplines.

Different output measures are available for different fields, U.S. News explains, saying that in business, they use starting salaries and the ability of new MBAs to find jobs upon graduation or three months later.

“A graduate degree can lead to professional advancement and a potential salary increase,” says Anita Narayan, managing editor of Education at U.S. News. “Whether you are interested in pursuing a full-time program or taking classes part-time, the grad school rankings and advice offer guidance on finding programs that help you fulfill your personal goals.”

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Dos and Don’ts for Choosing MBA Recommenders

So many people think choosing a well-known or prestigious individual will be the ticket to acceptance at the b-school of their dreams. The key when selecting recommenders is to think about about their placement in …

So many people think choosing a well-known or prestigious individual will be the ticket to acceptance at the b-school of their dreams. The key when selecting recommenders is to think about about their placement in your life. Can they write about you thoughtfully and with enough insight so that the admissions committee can get an authentic feel for you as a person, as well as your skills and capabilities? Truly, the prestige of the recommender is not important.

Professional recommendations are best

In most situations, current and recent supervisors are the best choices because they can speak to your current skills, values, and work ethic as well as future potential. Also you should choose professional references instead of professors. Schools can see your educational background from transcripts and test scores; for that reason a recommendation from a professor won’t add much to your profile. Supervisors who have worked with you recently can elaborate on the aspects of your character that aren’t seen in resumes, transcripts, and scores.

Take a look at this excerpt from a recent post on the MBA Voices blog at Harvard Business School written by second-year student Ali Hassan, in which he describes how he chose his HBS recommenders while at McKinsey:

“When it came to recommendations, I was seeking two types of people.  First, I wanted someone who had worked very closely with me, and had a micro-level view of my skillset in day-to-day work. That person would be able to provide great insight, and back it up by pointing to specific experiences they’d had with me.
Second, I wanted someone who had a macro-level view of my work performance over time, with different teams, and across various work settings. If the first recommender provided depth, this one provided breadth. He was able to give a more comprehensive, long-term view of consistent patterns of strengths and weaknesses that I had as I worked with different teams, on different projects, and in different industries.”

People who know you well are best

Choose recommenders who know you well and can provide specific examples that speak to your personality, character, and values. Many applicants are tempted to ask their CEO or a famous school alum to write a recommendation.  If the CEO of your company is your direct supervisor and knows you well, then he/she is the right choice.

However do not skip several levels of hierarchy just to have the CEO write your recommendation. In fact, most schools specifically request your current supervisor as a reference, recognizing that this person is the most familiar with you and your work style. If for some reason you cannot have your current supervisor write your recommendation, you can submit a quick note to schools explaining why — eg, you just switched roles and have a new supervisor, you are not comfortable informing your place of work that you are applying to school.

Impress recommenders

Ideally you have already impressed your recommenders over the past few years with your performance. However, you want to be especially aware this spring and summer to demonstrate your leadership, initiative, maturity, and self-awareness. Your recommenders should see that you are ready to take the next step in your career by going to business school.

Build your relationships

Though the deadlines are still many months away, it is important to start thinking now about who your recommenders will be in order to build your relationships with them. Your recommenders should be invested in your future and enthusiastic about helping you reach your goal of getting into business school.

Though you don’t need to tell your recommenders right now that you want them to write a reference, you can take time this spring to make them mentors. Find opportunities to discuss their career path and ask their advice in order to involve them in furthering your career. Then it will seem natural for them to write your recommendations this fall.

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Harvard Celebrates New Venture Competition’s 20th Anniversary

In April, Harvard Business School students and alumni will compete for $300,000 in cash prizes to fund their startup dreams in the 20th Anniversary New Venture Competition. Past competition winners and participants will also return …

In April, Harvard Business School students and alumni will compete for $300,000 in cash prizes to fund their startup dreams in the 20th Anniversary New Venture Competition. Past competition winners and participants will also return to campus for programs and a celebratory 20th Anniversary New Venture Competition Finale on Tuesday, April 25, 2017.

The school is offering its biggest prizes to date, with a $75,000 Grand Prize for top winners in the Student Business, Student Social Enterprise, and Alumni competitions. Additional prizes are a $25,000 Runner-Up Prize, $5,000 Audience Award, and in-kind services. Previously the Grand Prize was $50,000 in each category.

More than 200 judges will vigorously review the new ventures in several rounds of judging. Past winners include Rent the Runway, Birchbox, and GrabTaxi.

“The New Venture Competition is critical to entrepreneurship at Harvard Business School,” says Jodi Gernon, Director of the Rock Center for Entrepreneurship, which oversees the student and alumni business tracks of the competition. “Competition winners say it was the launching point of their businesses, helped them to attract funding, and gave them the confidence, exposure, and skills to found companies.”

Matt Segneri, Director of the HBS Social Enterprise Initiative, which manages the social enterprise track, says, “The winning teams developed innovative approaches—using for-profit, nonprofit and hybrid models—to tackle society’s toughest challenges, including HIV prevention and K-12 education reform.”

171 alumni teams applied in January and are being judged in 15 regions. Four alumni teams will make it to the semifinals to present and be judged at the April Finale at HBS. More than 70 student teams on the business track and 48 social entrepreneurs have already applied in advance of the March 8 deadline.

HBS also offers workshops and other support for students. You can learn more about the New Venture Competition at hbs.edu/nvc and track Harvard Business School’s 20th Anniversary New Venture Competition on Twitter at #HBSNVC.

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5 Tips for Harvard Business School Applicants

Harvard Business School is famously difficult to get into, but don’t let low acceptance rates keep you from applying if this is truly your dream MBA program. In a recent post to the school’s MBA Voices …

HBS application tipsHarvard Business School is famously difficult to get into, but don’t let low acceptance rates keep you from applying if this is truly your dream MBA program. In a recent post to the school’s MBA Voices Blog, six recent or soon-to-be graduates offer their advice for future applicants eager to learn all they can about the HBS admissions process.

Tip 1: Be your authentic self

“Be honest and genuine. I spent time reflecting on what really motivates me and what is most important to me. It may sound straight-forward, but I think it’s really important to have clear direction on what you want to do and how the HBS experience will help you get there. Then make sure that your application really shows your personality and conveys this message of who you are and where you want to go.” Stephanie Marr, MBA 2016

We say: The admissions committee wants to get to know you as a person beyond the resume—don’t write anything just because it seems like something an admissions committee would want to hear.

The trick to fleshing out your human side in the application is to take just a couple of experiences, activities, or themes and expand upon them in a much more detailed and nuanced way. Don’t shy away from your true interests; illustrate how they have helped shape the incredibly dynamic and fascinating person that you are.

Tip 2: Pick your recommenders carefully

“Select recommenders who know you well enough to tell a story that covers your accomplishments and the obstacles you overcame to achieve them. I chose recommenders who had seen me take on responsibility, struggle at times, and adapt to reach my goals. I think this matters much more than having recommenders with a particular job title or connection with HBS.” Sam Travers, MBA 2016

We say: When considering potential references, ask yourself whether the person has worked closely with you, thinks favorably of you, and will put in the time to write a thoughtful, detailed endorsement of your candidacy. If you can’t answer yes to these three requirements, move on until you find the person who fits the bill perfectly. Your chances of admission to the school of your dreams may well depend on it.

Tip 3: Learn more about the generous financial aid options HBS offers

“Trying to figure out how you’re going to afford your Harvard MBA can feel very scary – I definitely remember the sticker shock I felt when I read the expected student budget for the first time. Luckily, there are a lot of ways for you to get support as you decide how you want to finance your time at HBS. Many students, myself included, aren’t able to pay for business school out of their savings and instead utilize a combination of financial aid, scholarships, and loans to get themselves through the program. 

HBS has an incredible need-based financial aid program; over $36 million dollars is awarded to students each year. The administration firmly believes that funding should not be a barrier for anyone to attend business school and they ensure that no student is required to take on too much debt. HBS wants everyone who is admitted to be able to come and therefore the aid is awarded solely based on financial need. Nearly 50% of the class receives HBS Fellowships with the majority of Fellowships in the $30,000-$50,000 range per year.

The average starting salary at graduation is $135,000. Most alums are able to pay back loans in considerably less time than the terms provided. HBS also offers a variety loan forgiveness programs available at graduation for those students plan to pursue a career path in a less lucrative field—for example, there are financing options for graduates heading into social enterprise or pursuing entrepreneurial ventures.” Leslie Moser, MBA 2015

We say: People will tell you that you will find the money you need to go, but we know that thinking about all those zeros can get overwhelming and intimidating. Just know that most students use multiple sources; it’s never too soon to start researching your options; don’t underestimate your costs; and rest assured that schools want you to find funding and will do everything they possibly can to help accepted applicants.

Tip 4: Keep in mind HBS is reapplicant-friendly 

I had been dinged from HBS once and wondered if it was worth applying a second time.  Although uncertain of whether or not I’d be accepted to the program, I wanted to give it another shot.  Fortunately, and likely due to some divine intervention, I was accepted to the program.  I was absolutely elated when I received the good news.” Ryan Hansen, MBA 2017

We say: Many people in b-school right now were dinged the first time they applied. Reapplying shows you are serious about your interest in the MBA program. Make sure your letters of recommendation and your GMAT or GRE scores are rock-solid, and don’t recycle essays from the first time around.

Use the additional essay question to explain what’s changed in your situation to make you a stronger candidate this time around. Make sure to address both professional and personal advancements, but show that you are realistic and self-aware. Revealing your humanity in the form of quirks, weaknesses and flaws can often help the admissions committee to like you.

Tip 5: Don’t self-select out

“When you’re lifting your finger to hit the submit button, or when you’re walking into your interview, stop thinking about your imperfections and deficiencies. In fact, stop thinking about yourself as an individual. Rather, think of yourself as a piece of something bigger – your potential HBS class. What you do have to offer? What characteristics you bring to the table that will make your section that much better? I bet there are several things about you that no one else can claim, and that’s the good stuff. Tell admissions about them.” Peter Nolan, MBA 2017

“To those thinking about applying to HBS, I encourage you to go for it. Don’t let your own self-doubt sabotage what could be one of the best experiences of your life.”   Terrance Rogers (MBA 2017)

We say: It’s hard not to feel intimidated when you read the admitted student profiles at many of the elite MBA programs, which might include Olympians, successful entrepreneurs, decorated military officers and candidates with outstanding public service experience. However, don’t get psyched out of applying just because you can’t list anything similarly noteworthy on your application.

To stand out in the eyes of the admissions committee, you just need to provide hard proof that you made a difference. Remember, it’s not about the scale of your achievements – rather, it’s the fact that you left indelible footprints.

Image credit: Flickr user Chris Han (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

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HBS Update on Round 2 Applications

The final wave of Round 2 interview invitations from Harvard Business School will go out on Wednesday, February 1st at noon EST. According to a new update by MBA admissions director Chad Losee, the online …

Harvard Business School interviewThe final wave of Round 2 interview invitations from Harvard Business School will go out on Wednesday, February 1st at noon EST. According to a new update by MBA admissions director Chad Losee, the online scheduler for this wave of interview invites will go live immediately.

As a reminder, whether you interview on campus, a global hub city, or via Skype, your odds of acceptance are the same as members of the admissions board conduct all HBS interviews.

The admissions team will also send out release notifications on Wednesday, and Losee takes a moment to reassure these candidates that HBS welcomes re-applicants, noting that “about 10% of each class is composed of students who didn’t get into HBS on their first try.”

If you’re planning to reapply if you don’t get accepted this year, here at SBC we recommend you treat the re-application process as a blank slate instead of reusing old essays.  It’s always a good idea to paint a new self-portrait based on the experiences you have gained during the past year.

Also, a word to future Round 1 applicants: Spring is a great time to plan a campus visit if you want to see the case method in action, as there’s limited availability for visiting a class in the early fall.

Good luck to all the Round 2 applicants out there, as well as those on the HBS waitlist.

You may also be interested in:

5 Common Interview Questions from Harvard Business School

 

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