Category Archives: HBS Application (Class of 2017)

HBS Round Two Interview Invites

By Kyle Watkins (last updated: February 4, 2017)

Round Two Interview Invites for HBS Class of 2019 Applicants

The Harvard Business School Admissions Committee sent out interview invitations to its second round applicants in two distinct waves, at 12pm noon ET on January 25th and February 1st, 2017.

For the lucky 900-or-so applicants who received an invite (~20% of second-round applicants), the scramble to prepare will begin quickly, as interviews will be conducted from February 3rd until March 6th (HBS Second Round Decisions are expected to be released on March 22nd).

But first, the answer to your most common question:

What are the odds of being admitted after receiving an interview invitation?

Our estimate is 55% to 60%. It’s high, but low enough to make a lot of applicants have regrets. Every year, brilliant candidates call us after their HBS interview wishing they had better prepared for it… Unfortunately, there is no second chance.

To help you be on the right side of the applicant pool, we wanted to put all our interview prep resources in one place. These resources should help you get ready:

What it’s like to interview at HBS: Kyle’s personal account of what it is like to interview at HBS, from receiving the email inviting him to interview to receiving the phone call congratulating him on his admittance.

Mastering Every Admissions Interview Question: Advice and tips on how to best prepare for an MBA admissions interview — at HBS or any other MBA program.

Post-Interview Reflection: Guidance on how to approach preparing for, drafting, and sending HBS’s 24-hour post-interview reflection email.

Mock HBS interviews: Interviewing is a skill, and the unfortunate truth is that many of us think we are better at interviewing than we really are. It requires practice, which is why we would encourage every candidate interviewing at HBS to take advantage of our interview preparation services:

  • Email us if you are interested in a mock HBS interview.
  • One mock interview plus personalized feedback is $295, and two mock interviews plus personalized feedback is $495.
  • Kyle or myself — both HBS alumni — will work with you personally during the mock interview, which will mirror the HBS admissions interview process as closely as possible: first, we will review your application prior to the interview; second, we will conduct a 30-minute mock interview with you via Skype; and finally, we will provide you personalized feedback immediately after the mock interview or at a time of your choosing.
  • Slots fill up quickly, so please email us to express your interest or get more information.

Alternatively, you can secure your spot directly by signing-up via paypal. We will get back to you within 24 hours to arrange a suitable time slot. Simply use the form at the very end of this post.

If you’re looking for additional guidance on your application or have any questions about the MBA admissions process, please reach out to us via our free consultation link.

We also offer a comprehensive “HBS ding analysis” package, along with hourly consultations to discuss round three strategies for unsuccessful round two applicants. Keep in mind that HBS is a re-applicant friendly school, with up to 10% of re-applicants in each class (see an inspiring story from a successful re-applicant here).

Should you have questions about our ability to help you, we’d like to invite you to visit our “client feedback” page. We have pasted a few emails from past clients below.

We’re happy to help, even with last-minute questions and requests. Good luck!

“Dinged by Stanford, accepted by HBS! Thank you guys SO much for all of your help. Really appreciate it. As for the service- excellent! You guys took your time answering all my questions and really grilling me hard. I loved the experience and would definitely recommend it to anyone else interviewing at HBS. Regarding [your competitor] Sandy [the hbsguru] I had a pretty good, but completely different experience. (…) But if I had to pick one I think I’d choose you guys. From you and Kyle I got the traditional mock interviews, and fantastic specific feedback on my style, tone, answers, etc. and 2 interviews was great. I had a fantastic experience.” O., HBS MBA Class of 2016

“I wanted to follow up with good news: I got into HBS! The interview itself was, as everyone says, totally impossible to predict (60-70% focused entirely on me describing my current company’s technology and business model), but the practice of being nervous and answering impossible-to-predict questions with you guys was valuable and let me push past my (high) stress level.Thank you!” A., HBS MBA Class of 2016

“On December 11th I found out that I was admitted to HBS. Prior to my actual HBS interview, I had conducted a mock with Vincent of MBA Admissions Advisors. Our session made a huge difference in the preparation process, but it was only after the actual interview [at HBS] that I realized how well I had been prepared. Vincent made very detailed observations about my performance, and after our debrief session I had a very clear picture of my strengths and areas for improvement. Perhaps the most important thing I worked on with MBA Admissions Advisors was how to think on my feet in order to answer any question, as opposed to preparing answers to a laundry list of publicly available questions from past HBS interviews, a much less valuable exercise. During our mock interview, although Vincent had a list of targeted questions based on my profile, he did not seem to be following a script. He built on my responses with follow-up questions to constantly challenge me. This was exactly what happened during my actual HBS interview. Last but not least, Vincent remained engaged throughout the admissions process, and he by far exceeded my expectations. He gave me access to valuable interview preparation resources, remained available to answer questions, and systematically responded to my emails promptly. I was delighted to receive ‘good luck’ messages the day before my actual HBS interview and on the school’s first round decision day. These little things made working with him a great experience. “ I.S., HBS MBA Class of 2016

Secure your spot now:


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Round 3 MBA Application Decisions

By Kyle Watkins (last updated: May 13, 2015)

Navigating the Waitlist and Application Ding Analysis

This is a big week in MBA admissions, with a handful of big-name programs (like HBS, Kellogg, Ross, Tuck, LBS, Johnson, and INSEAD) rolling out decision notifications for Round 3 applicants. For some who are accepted, it will mark the beginning of an exciting journey to business school, but for most, it will present an opportunity to reflect on your application and consider what comes next.

Waitlisted Candidates

To help candidates who receive a waitlist notification, we recently wrote a post about dealing with the waitlist decision, and we dedicated one of our 10-step guides tonavigating the wailtlist process. Although waitlisted candidates should follow instructions provided by the admissions committee, in some cases there are steps that can be taken to maximize your chances, so the articles are worth a read.

For waitlisted candidates, we can also guide you through the waitlist process, and answer any questions you may have about the steps you can take to increase your chances. Reach out through our Free Consultation form, and we’d be happy to help.

Ding Analysis

We have also provided ding analyses to many candidates in the past, and we have helped them secure interviews or admissions offers at top programs like MIT, Wharton, and Columbia as a result. Our Ding Analysis service has been regularly described by our clients as one of the best in terms of value.

Reach out through our Free Consultation form if you are interested, and we’ll be happy to help.

Good luck!

My HBS Interview Experience

By Kyle Watkins (last updated: September 12, 2014)

What It’s Like to Interview at HBS

My invitation to interview at HBS came on the first day that the admissions committee began emailing candidates. It was a relief, to be sure, but it also was undoubtedly a bit nerve racking. Three days later, I received a follow up email, this one with a link to an online portal where I would actually schedule my interview. I chose an afternoon spot on a Monday on campus in Boston. It allowed me to fly up from Washington D.C. during the weekend, ensuring I would be settled in and wouldn’t face any logistical snags come interview day.

The morning of the interview I kept completely free. I wanted to make sure I was well rested and unrushed. At noon I attended a luncheon hosted by the HBS admissions committee for applicants interviewing that day. We had sandwiches and made small talk in the back room of the Grille, a staple of the HBS dining circuit. There were a few of us there, and we each took turns asking relatively low-risk questions of the admissions staffer that had joined us.

After an hour or so, lunch wrapped up, leaving me about 90 minutes before I was scheduled to be at Dillon House, the admissions building at HBS. I walked across the Charles River and had a cup of coffee, rehearsing my answers to the most basic interview questions (strengths, weaknesses, why an MBA, why HBS). By that time I was wishing I had scheduled my interview for a little earlier. Time seemed to be passing pretty slowly.

I started heading over to Dillon House about 2pm, arriving 10 minutes before my scheduled interview. When you walk in the door, there is a short hallway with a big glass window on your left, so I could see the receptionist through the glass pane well before I could actually say hi to her. I greeted her warmly, and she told me to take a seat while I waited for my interview to begin. I did, playing with one of those mini Zen gardens you find in offices sometimes to keep my mind from wandering.

Sure enough, at 2:30pm on the dot, an admissions officer walked out to greet me. She walked with me about 30 feet to a small office in the back of Dillon House, and along the way we made small talk about my trip in to Boston that weekend.

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How long should your HBS essay be?

By Kyle Watkins (last updated: September 5, 2014)

The HBS round-one application deadline is less than a week away, leaving a lot of candidates scrambling to make the finishing touches on their essays. Inevitably, applicants also seem to be left wondering whether their HBS essay is the “right length” or what the “ideal word count” is for their essay. Without a suggested word limit from HBS to guide you, it’s a reasonable question to ask.

Ultimately, you have to let the content dictate how long your essay will be, but over the past year we’ve been able to collect enough data at MBA Admissions Advisors to make some reasonable guesses as to how long successful HBS essays typically are. The below histogram represents just that — an educated guess based on a limited sample — and while I cannot guarantee it is perfectly accurate, I hope it serves as a rough guide and useful datapoint as you consider the length of your essay.

But it’s worth stressing again that content is king and should ultimately dictate your essay’s length. If you’re looking for advice on the content of your HBS essay, you can check out our detailed post here or reach out to us through our free consultation service; we’re happy to chat about your essay ideas, essay length, or your profile more generally.

The above represents our best guess — based on a reasonable but limited sample — of how long successful HBS essays are typically.

 

HBS Recommendations Advice (Class of 2017)

By Kyle Watkins (last updated: August 5, 2014)

Based on Excerpts from a Real HBS Recommendation Sample

 

This year’s MBA applicants face fewer required essays and shorter word counts than any recent class of candidates. But applicants haven’t been the only ones facing the squeeze over the past few years. Recommenders, too, have found themselves with less and less space to make an impact: over the past two years, HBS not only reduced the number of recommenders a candidate was allowed to have, it also cut the word count allotted to those recommenders by half.

 

What does this mean for this year’s HBS applicants? First and foremost, applicants need to pick the right recommenders to advocate on their behalf. Second, applicants need to make sure they are adequately preparing those recommenders to write great recommendations.

 

In this blog post, I’ll illustrate the keys to getting great HBS recommendations by revealing a few snippets of a real recommendation from my own HBS application.

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MBA Admissions Essays are Disappearing

By Kyle Watkins (last updated: August 5, 2014)

How to Make the Most of a Shrinking MBA Admissions Application

MBA admissions essays are quickly disappearing. In fact, an applicant applying to the top ten MBA programs today would be required to complete fewer than half as many essays today as she would have just five year ago. And – she’d have to do it in a lot less space, with the average word limit per essay a mere 75% of what it used to be:

Since last year, HBS has no longer required that applicants write any essay (although only 10 of the 9,543 candidates that applied last cycle actually opted not to submit one). Wharton, meanwhile, moved to require only a single essay of its applicants this year. Even Columbia and Haas, the only programs among the top ten that still require applicants to write more than two essays, have reduced the word limit that applicants are allowed.

Why Essays are Disappearing

Having read many applications, I can attest to the fact that you don’t need four essays and 2,000 words to gauge an applicant’s compatibility with a program. So I don’t mean to cynically suggest that business schools’ motives are entirely self-serving here. With that said, however, logic holds that requiring fewer essays and shorter word counts – essentially decreasing the cost to apply – will increase the number of candidates that submit applications. Increasing the number of applicants will, in turn, decrease a school’s admittance rate, making the school seem more selective and helping to keep the top-ranked programs top ranked.

Additionally, there’s no doubt that reducing the number of application essays also reduces the burden on busy admissions staff. Ensuring that there are fewer essays to read will also ensure that fewer resources are required to do so, something any admissions director could get behind.

Finally, admissions committees are likely looking for a more focused story and essay set from their applicants, who can meander quite a bit over the course of 2,000 words. This raises the next logical question, which is what fewer essays should mean for aspiring applicants…

What it Means for Your Applications

The reduction in essays has been a pretty remarkable shift, and it certainly has consequences for applicants applying this year:

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