Tag Archives: Harvard Business School
October 22, 2013
When Harvard Business School sent out Round 1 interview invitations last week, the Harbus’s general manager La Keisha Landrum posted an article that afternoon letting those lucky recipients in on some of the secrets of …
When Harvard Business School sent out Round 1 interview invitations last week, the Harbus’s general manager La Keisha Landrum posted an article that afternoon letting those lucky recipients in on some of the secrets of a successful admissions interview.
Here are the key takeaways from current HBS students that Landrum shares to inform your own interview preparation:
“Know your application inside and out. Sounds simple, but review it. Know your story and practice explaining key achievements that you mention in your resume or essays.”
“To practice, I did 6 simulated interviews with HBS students that proved invaluable in my preparation.”
“Prepare three or four good stories (which could be adapted to answer practically any question), then record yourself on iSight answering 20 minutes of questions. Watch to assess your body language, tone.”
“Know your resume cold. Know your essay(s) cold.”
“If you were reading your application, what questions would you have for yourself? Those are probably the questions you’ll get on interview day.”
“As you think about your strategy for answering interview questions, it’s a good idea to rehearse your answers, but do not memorize them! That will come off as inauthentic and can really hurt your chances.”
“HBS students are expected to be able to think on their feet in the case method. The interview screens for that.”
“You will be asked a lot of questions—often in rapid fire fashion. But don’t forget to get your own message across.”
“ What do you want to convey to your interviewer? Find a way to get your points across in your answers.”
“When preparing for your interview, practice being succinct in your answers. HBS is looking for articulate students who can make convincing statements or arguments without going on and on forever.”
“ Remember, it’s only a thirty-minute session, so your interviewer will get frustrated if you are taking up too much air time.”
As you prepare for your interview, one of the most important tips to remember is to sound natural—not scripted—during the exchange. Instead of trying to remember and include every last one of your memorized bullet points, focus on succinctly answering only the question at hand.
If you can get from point A to point B in a clear, logical way; maintain an open, friendly, and professional demeanor; dress appropriately; and have an inquisitive attitude about the school and all it has to offer students, you stand a very good chance of coming out of the interview with flying colors.
Stacy Blackman Consulting offers two valuable eBooks which may help you on your journey to Harvard Business School. Please check out our:
September 30, 2013
This post originally appeared on Stacy’s “Strictly Business” MBA Blog on U.S.News.com People typically pursue an MBA because they are looking to improve their career opportunities and increase their future income. What some applicants don’t …
This post originally appeared on Stacy’s “Strictly Business” MBA Blog on U.S.News.com
People typically pursue an MBA because they are looking to improve their career opportunities and increase their future income. What some applicants don’t consider is that you can achieve both of those objectives even if you don’t make it into the business programs at Harvard, Wharton or Stanford.
While rankings are a valuable piece of the puzzle when you’re narrowing down your school list, don’t get hung up on the top few programs. It’s more important to be pragmatic and align your expectations with the MBA programs that match your particular profile, particularly if your GMAT score isn’t through the roof or your career trajectory has stalled out.
MBA programs update their career or recruiting reports annually and post them online, so a good strategy is to think about the company or industry you want to work in, and find out whether they recruit at your target schools.
[Research b-schools that match your learning style and personality.]
For example, top MBA employers including McKinsey & Co., Goldman Sachs, Boston Consulting Group, Bain & Co. and Deloitte Consulting recruit heavily at the most elite schools. But they also recruit other schools, such as at UCLA Anderson School of Management, Emory’s Goizueta Business School and Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business. These graduate business schools all placed in the Top 25 of the 2014 U.S. News Best Graduate Schools rankings.
While most schools don’t disclose the number of hires per company, MBA applicants can extrapolate that you might not need to get into a top school in order to land at the company of your dreams.
A few years ago, our client Priya had her sights set on attending one of the top three ranked schools in the U.S. However, as her consultant worked with her on her applications, it became apparent that her chances of admission were less than ideal.
Priya had taken a few swings at the GMAT, but test-taking was a significant weakness for her and her scores topped out at 640. She had a few years of work experience, but promotion freezes had left her stuck at her initial position without advancement.
[Find out how to fix a low GMAT score.]
Priya was starting to wonder if she should apply to business school at all. Before letting her quit, Priya’s consultant asked why she wanted to apply to those top three schools.
Priya wanted to work in corporate finance at a specific Fortune 500 firm after graduating, and had chosen the top schools where that company heavily recruited. With her career goal in mind, Priya and her consultant decided to change strategies.
Since an MBA was the key to achieving her career goals, Priya cast a wider net to include schools ranked in the top 50. She also retooled her application to emphasize her specific, concrete career plan, which helped shift focus away from her weaknesses.
Priya found a great fit in the University of North Carolina—Chapel Hill’s Kenan-Flagler Business School. Though not as competitive for admission as the very top schools, it ranks No. 20 in the U.S. News rankings and in the top twenty of several other lists, and offers a concentration in corporate finance that Priya found appealing.
She maximized her academic and networking opportunities while on campus and found a job with her chosen finance firm after graduating using the skills and contacts she gained, rather than relying solely on recruiting. Priya is now moving up the ranks and is encouraged by the fact that her firm’s CEO obtained his MBA from a school that rarely even appears on a business school ranking list.
[Get MBA admissions tips for applicants with a finance background.]
Location is often overlooked by candidates choosing a b-school, but is extremely important. Recruiters give priority to candidates who have already lived or worked in the same region where the position is located, and graduates tend to gain employment near the geographic location of their MBA program.
While an MBA from Harvard opens doors anywhere, if you’re interested in working in the energy sector, you might have a better shot going where the energy industry thrives. Examples in the oil and gas industry include the University of Texas—Austin McCombs School of Business or Rice University’s Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Business.
Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business offers an MBA concentration in energy & environment, as well as a new concentration in energy finance.
The point is, if you’re not going into finance or consulting, you have greater flexibility in finding a niche program that’s the right fit for you.
While a degree from an elite business school is a goal and dream for many, several factors – such as test scores, undergraduate academic performance and tuition costs – influence whether it’s a viable option. If you believe the degree is critical to your career goals, consider expanding your school options while still getting a great return on investment.
September 13, 2013
The front page story on gender equity at Harvard Business School published in Sunday’s New York Times has caused quite a commotion among business school students, faculty, applicants, and the public at large. The article …
The front page story on gender equity at Harvard Business School published in Sunday’s New York Times has caused quite a commotion among business school students, faculty, applicants, and the public at large.
The article explores in depth some of the issues we’ve heard before: there’s a dearth of tenured female professors, female students are often less assertive in class, b-school life revolves heavily around alcohol and partying, etc.
It also sheds light on efforts to achieve more gender equity that we haven’t heard about previously, such as the recent inclusion of stenographers in the classroom to guard against biased grading; hand-raising coaching for female students; and new grading software tools that let professors instantly check their calling and marking patterns by gender.
Readers may remember that HBS celebrated the 50th anniversary of admitting women to the two-year MBA program this past spring, and several articles at the time reported that despite the notable milestone, many inequalities still persist.
But what has really some ruffled feathers are the social elements discussed in the article—things like Section X, a secret society made up of über wealthy, mostly international, and mostly male students; or the reported incidents of sexual harassment; or how female students frequently scale back on class participation in order to protect their “social capital” in the dating scene.
While the article is certainly an eye-opener on many fronts, we’ve seen at least two rebuttals published in the HBS student news outlet The Harbus that paint a different picture of campus life. In “It Will Be OK”, second-years Becky Cooper Nadis and Alana Hedlund assure first-year students that the campus environment is much more inclusive for women and people of differing socio-economic backgrounds than the NY Times article would leave readers to believe.
Second-year student Eric Lonstein offers another version of the “Culture at HBS” and believes Times writer Jodi Kantor should have looked beyond the sensationalist extremes of bad behavior because, he says, “the majority of people I know at HBS are thoughtful, caring, courageous, inclusive, and remarkably intelligent leaders.”
Is the problem solely gender? Or is it really more a social or class divide, as Kantor suggests in a companion article. And the problem isn’t limited to HBS; this week we’ve also seen an article quoting a Stanford GSB professor who says “The Boozy MBA Party Culture Needs to Change.” Bloomberg Businessweek, meanwhile, asks “When Did Business School Become All About the Parties?” And US News chimes in with the opinion that “Harvard Business School Must Improve Student Culture” and should take a page from Yale School of Management when it comes to valuing intellectual curiosity over status and material goods.
The debate over the accuracy of the entire article will no doubt continue, but it’s worth celebrating the fact that at least some of the measures initiated with the HBS Class of 2013 to improve gender equity have delivered on their promise.
September 6, 2013
Is there such thing as being too young or old for an MBA? In case you missed it, Bloomberg Businessweek ran an interesting article a few weeks ago called the Graying of Harvard Business School which pointed out some of the stats of the incoming class and noted that the percentage of students who received their undergrad degrees at least six years ago increased from 20.8 percent in 2011 to 22.9 percent in 2012, and to 23.3 percent this year.
The most notable increase, however, occurred within the age group who received their college degree ten or more years ago. The class of 2013 had a dozen students in that category; the class of 2015 has 23, Businessweek revealed.
Once upon a time, few would contemplate applying without first having the requisite five to seven years of work experience under their belts. The prevailing wisdom held that older candidates would have more to contribute to class discussions because of their substantial real-world experience. But now, more and more schools are specifically targeting younger applicants—some with programs tailored for those right out of college.
Deirdre Leopold, HBS’s admissions director, tells Businessweek there’s no special agenda to offer admission to more older applicants; it’s always a case of looking at candidates as individuals and what they can contribute to the class. Stacey Kole, deputy dean for the full-time MBA program at the Chicago Booth School of Business, shares a similar sentiment: “If you have eight-plus years of experience and you think the MBA has passed you by, it hasn’t,” Kole says. “If you’re a good fit for the school, you can get in.”
When a client asks, “Am I too old (or too young) for an MBA?” I respond that it’s not about chronological age. It’s more about maturity, readiness, and where you are in your career. If you’re contemplating business school in your mid-30s, the key is to demonstrate confidence, how you’ve progressed professionally, and what you’ve contributed on the job. To find out how our client Max, age 37, crafted a successful application to Harvard Business School, read this SBC Scoop.
The important takeaway from this data is that older applicants do get in to the very top programs, so your age should never be the sole deciding factor of whether to apply to business school.
July 12, 2013
For those in the midst of the school selection process, it may be helpful to have a mental snapshot of those who are at the helm of some of the top-ranked MBA programs. This week, we’ll start with Nitin Nohria, who became the tenth dean of Harvard Business School in July 2010.
Building on input from faculty, students, staff, and alumni, he has identified five priorities for Harvard Business School: innovation in the school’s educational programs, beginning with the MBA Program; intellectual ambition that advances ideas with impact in practice; continued internationalization, through building a global intellectual footprint; creating a culture of inclusion, where every member of the community can do their best work in support of the school’s mission; and fostering a culture of integration within HBS and across Harvard University that acts as a catalyst for entrepreneurship.
As dean, Nohria has upped the experiential aspect of the program by instituting a new, required year-long course—Field Immersion Experiences for Leadership Development (FIELD)—which provides students with intensive, immersive, small-group opportunities to develop leadership, global, and integrative intelligence.
In his message to the graduating class of 2013, the first to participate in the FIELD program, Nohria called FIELD “the most significant experiment in our MBA curriculum since HBS began using case studies almost 100 years ago.”
In addition to highlighting the school’s plans to expand upon his initial priorities, in his annual January update Nohria spoke of the Harvard Campaign, which will launch in Fall 2013. This initiative is designed to strengthen each school and work together across the entire university in pursuit of larger common purposes.
Nohria closes his address with these thoughts: “What I think makes this School notable is its belief—embodied in its faculty, students, staff, and alumni—that it can serve a higher purpose. Individual by individual, idea by idea, we can work to transform companies and communities, and through that effort, we can enrich society. There is no nobler aim.”