Category Archives: Interview Preparation

Preparing for the MIT Sloan MBA Admissions Interview

By Vincent Ho-Tin-Noe (last updated: December 31, 2014)

Last week, MIT Sloan started inviting candidates to participate in its Behavioral Event-Based Interviews (BEI). As often in the past, the school will be inviting candidates on a rolling basis. In the US, it started with West Coast candidates but will be extending invites to candidates located in other regions over the next few weeks. For example, East Coast invites should start going out on October 27, while the last batch might be sent in three or four weeks from now only.

For the lucky ones who have already received an interview invitation from MIT Sloan, we’d like to share some advice regarding MIT’s Behavioral Event-Based Interview. While perhaps not as radically different from the traditional MBA admissions interview as Wharton’s Team-Based Discussion, MIT Sloan’s behavioral interview requires a healthy amount of respect and a unique style of preparation.

How is MIT Sloan’s Behavioral Interview Different?

Unlike most MBA admissions committees, MIT Sloan focuses its interview exclusively on a candidate’s past actions. As the adcom writes in its interview preparation guide, “Instead of asking how you would behave in a particular situation, the interviewer will ask you how you did behave.”

If you’re lucky enough to be invited to interview, this distinction will manifest itself in two ways:

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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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HBS Round 3 Interviews

By Vincent Ho-Tin-Noe (last updated: April 16, 2014)

Harvard Business Schools will send out interview invitations to third round applicants on April 17, 2014 at precisely noon Eastern Time. Admissions results will be released in barely one month, so candidates should expect to be interviewing very soon. As a former round 3 applicant, I remember how exciting it was to go from submitting my application to receiving my offer in just 5 weeks.

If you receive an interview invitation at HBS, your odds of getting in are pretty high; the admissions ratio after the HBS interview is close to 60%. This is quite a good ratio, and a common saying is that at this point of the admissions process, your HBS offer is yours to lose.

Preparation is therefore essential, and we highly recommend that you have a look at the list of resources we have put together to prepare for the HBS interview.

Should you need help to prepare for your interview, please do not hesitate to let us know.
We offer interview preparation packages for HBS that have helped many successful candidates in the past.

In the words of one of our Round 2 admits: “I wanted to follow up with good news: I got into HBS! The interview itself was, as everyone says, totally impossible to predict (…), but the practice of being nervous and answering impossible-to-predict questions with you guys was invaluable and let me push past my (high) stress level.”

HBS Round 2: Preparing for Your Interview

By Kyle Watkins (last updated: July 6, 2014)

On January 29, HBS sent out interview invitations to many of its Class of 2016 applicants (including round two applicants and round one candidates whose application was “deferred” to round two). Around 20% of all round two applicants received an interview invitation on January 29, and a second round of invites will go out to candidates on February 5, according to the HBS admissions blog. Interviewed candidates will then stand a 60% chance of being admitted to the #1 MBA program in the World (according to the latest Financial Times MBA rankings).

We’d like to wish the best of luck to everyone, and for the happy few who have received the coveted email from Dillon House, it is time to prepare for the last step of your application. While we have been writing about the HBS interview process for a while on this blog, we thought it would be helpful to bring all of our resources together in one place:
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MIT Round One Notifications

By Vincent Ho-Tin-Noe (last updated: December 19, 2013)
On Friday December 20, 2013, MIT Sloan will be releasing its round one decisions, putting an end to a pretty busy week, during which Wharton (on December 17) and Booth (December 19) also released their first round admissions decisions. 

Notification time

Unlike HBS, MIT Sloan does not provide a lot of information about the exact time and manner candidates are notified, although admitted students should receive an email or phone call from the admissions team by 5pm EST.

Post-interview admissions rate

Although precise numbers do not exist, we estimate that post-interview admissions odds at MIT Sloan stand among the highest across top 10 MBA programs, at around 60%. Candidates who prepared well for their behavioral interview questions, should thus receive positive news on decision day.

Waitlisted candidates

Having dealt with the waitlist process at MIT Sloan, I vividly remember the emotional roller coaster I went through in the days following the decision notification. Having received strong words of encouragement from my interviewer at the end of our conversation, I felt pretty confident that I would receive a offer from that particular program. I was thus puzzled by the school’s decision to put me on their waitlist, and was unsure of what to do to end up getting a spot in their next class.

In order to help candidates who receive a waitlist notification, our co-founder, Kyle Watkins, recently wrote a post about dealing with the waitlist decision, and we dedicated one of our 10-step guides to “navigating the wailtlist process“. In some cases there might be steps that can be taken to maximize your chances, especially since MIT Sloan is one of the few schools that do not discourage candidates from submitting new material (“we encourage waiting list applicants to keep us updated on their situation and intentions. You are welcome to submit via e-mail only any additional information you feel will be helpful to us”). In a November 2013 wait list chat, the school clearly stated that “all applicants placed on the wait list should send 2-4 updates to show their interest in attending MIT Sloan. Updates should demonstrate evidence of professional success (new projects/results/promotions), updated test scores or additional coursework, and additional unofficial recommendations“.

We will try to centralize information from the school’s admissions team about the process along with anecdotes from other waitlisted applicants, so check our blog regularly for updates.

Dings: it’s worth re-applying

Months of effort and hopes will be torn into pieces for applicants who receive a ding notification from MIT. But it is important to quickly move on should the outcome of your application be negative. Although MIT Sloan usually does not provide individual feedback to applicants whose application is rejected (even post interview), the school encourages candidates to reapply  (“re-applicants are very important to us and you’re sending us an important message if you re-apply. We take this seriously, and we know you’ve probably passed up other opportunities to try with us again. We want you to know you’re getting the full consideration and the first chance at a spot in the next class. It’s important to know that re-applicants are successful in our process. We value your commitment to coming here, and we want students who are committed to MIT Sloan”).

In any case, stay positive. MIT Sloan decided to invite you to an interview. This means that you have what it takes to get into a top MBA program with maybe just a few tweaks to your application. If MIT Sloan is the one and only place where you can picture yourself earning your MBA, keep in mind that re-applicants odds of success are higher than those of regular applicants (“(…) typically the acceptance rate for re-applicants is a few percentage points higher than our average. So if on average we have a 12% acceptance rate, re-applicants are at about 15–16% acceptance rate”).

Next steps

If you have just received an admissions offer from MIT Sloan, congratulations! You are about to go on an amazing journey that will bring countless opportunities. Should you want to discuss how to best prepare for MIT, we will be happy to work with you.

For waitlisted candidates, we can guide you through the waitlist process, and answer any questions you may have about the steps you can take to increase your chances. This is particularly important at MIT Sloan, since the school expects waitlisted candidates to send additional material. Don’t let this opportunity pass! You may also find valuable content in some of our past posts.

Finally, we have provided ding reports to several candidates in the past, and have helped them secure interviews or admissions offers at other top 10 programs.

Just reach out to us should you be interested in any of these services.

Analyzing the Applications: the HBS Post-Interview Reflection

By Kyle Watkins (last updated: December 17, 2013)

The HBS post-interview reflection is certainly one of the more unique application elements among MBA programs. Since HBS has decided to continue requiring the post-interview reflection from candidates 24 hours after their interview, it’s worth spending some time now considering how to approach this piece of the admissions process.

First, it’s worth noting that the post-interview reflection won’t make or break the application for many candidates. It gives HBS one more data point, but overall it is only a small piece of the equation. Your resume, essays, GMAT, GPA, recommendations, and interview (not to mention the school’s effort to admit a diverse and balanced class) will play a role in whether you are admitted. Unlike the hiring process at a job where the interview is often make-or-break, the admissions process for MBA programs is much more holistic.

With that said, the post-interview reflection provides plenty of opportunities to hurt or help your application, and in a hyper-competitive admissions environment, it’s important to never miss an opportunity to put points on the board.

Most applicants probably won’t do much, if any, prep work for HBS’s post-interview reflection. Fortunately, this is the one part of the application process where not preparing much can actually help you. After all, the exercise is — as HBS makes perfectly clear — meant to be a true reflection. It is not another essay. It is not something that should be prepared prior to your interview. However, there’s one small piece of preparation I’d recommend to every candidate.

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