Category Archives: Harvard Business School

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.

Continue reading

HBS Round One Interviews

By Kyle Watkins (last updated: December 12, 2013)

[Note] For the latest information regarding HBS round one decisions, please check out our December 9 update.

According to the HBS admissions director, first round “interview invitations will be sent out via email on October 9 and October 16. Candidates invited to interview will receive detailed instructions about the sign-up procedure. The interview scheduler will go live the following day.

On October 16, candidates who will not be invited to interview will be notified of their release. A group of Round One applicants, possibly 100-150, will be placed under “further consideration.” These candidates will be re-viewed in Round Two and either be invited to interview or released on the Round Two timetable.

Round One interviews will be conducted between October 21 and November 22.. (…) In addition to on-campus interviews, we will be interviewing in New York City, Palo Alto, London, Paris, Shanghai, Dubai, Mumbai, Sao Paulo, and Santiago. Candidates who cannot travel may be accommodated via Skype.”

According to Mrs. Leopold: “Interviewing on campus is a great opportunity to get to see life at HBS, but the location of an interview is not a factor in the selection process.”

As a final note, your odds of receiving an invitation are actually fairly high (we’ve estimated that 20% of applicants receive an invitation to interview with HBS). If you are interviewed, you then statistically stand a 60% chance of being admitted. Know your story inside out, and make sure to start reading the Wall Street Journal daily to avoid being caught off guard by a question about a recent piece of news during your interview. Preparation will be key if you do not want to be among the 40% of interviewed applicants who end up having regrets.

Good luck!

What it’s like to interview at HBS

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

I always had a lot of questions about what it was like to interview at HBS. I still remember scouring online for examples of HBS interviews, but I never really found a lot of that covered the process in detail. So, to hopefully help fill that need, below I recall my own experience interviewing at HBS just a few years ago. Then, at the end of the post, I consider what other applicants can learn from my experience about good interview preparation, HBS’s 24-hour post-interview reflection, and the interview process.

Continue reading

Are You Too Old For HBS?

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

As a 32 year old MBA applicant, I was extremely concerned that my age would prevent me from attending a top business school. Although my stats were quite strong, several admissions “experts” almost convinced me that a candidate well into his 30s had almost no chance of getting into a top MBA program in the US.

Baker Library at night

Harvard Business School – Baker Library at night

Not only did I prove these people wrong by getting into HBS, but many other students entered the program with 8+ years of professional experience (47 students to be precise, close to 5% of our class). Some of them had served in the military, but many others had worked for more traditional employers. Our most senior student was a former university professor, well into his fifties.

A few days ago, the admissions director at HBS released some stats about the last 3 incoming classes (2013 to 2015). It turns out that the class of 2015 will welcome 64 students with more than 8 years of work experience. 23 of them completed their undergrad education 10 or more years ago. These numbers are significant, as we’re not talking about just a couple of exceptions.

Continue reading

Inside the Harvard Business School Case Method

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

When deciding between MBA programs, applicants should understand that different schools may use different teaching methods. While most B-Schools rely on a mix of lectures, cases, and projects, a few elite schools rely almost exclusively on cases to teach business skills, including for classes such as accounting or finance.

Because case discussions require active participation from students, people uncomfortable with that method may struggle academically at schools with a case heavy teaching style.

At Harvard Business Schools more than 80 percent of classes are built using the case method. A few years ago, the school released a fascinating video (below) that accurately describes what the case method looks like.

Do you think that a school’s teaching style should indeed be a decisive factor when deciding whether to apply to a specific program? Feel free to share your thoughts by leaving a reply below!

Liked what you just saw? Asses your odds of success at some of the top U.S. and international business schools.

HBS Releases Class of 2015 Profile

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

Harvard Business School just released a preliminary profile of the class of 2015. Acceptance rate decreased to 12% (from 13% last year), and with 940 enrolling students as of June 3 (out of 9,315 applicants), the yield reached an impressive 90% (although surprisingly HBS may not be the #1 school in the U.S. in terms of yield according to John Byrne).

The percentage of international students is up from last year (35% vs. 34%), as is the proportion of female students (reaching an all-time high of 41%), which should not come as a surprise on the 50th anniversary of women at HBS. STEM* majors are up 5 percentage points vs. last year, reaching 39% of incoming students.

On the GMAT side, the range remains quite broad (550 – 780 vs. 570 – 790 last year), and the median is unchanged at 730. This means that even at HBS a low GMAT is not necessarily an application killer, although an MBA applicant needs to shine in other area of her application in order to compensate for a significantly below average score.

Finally, the average age of admitted students is 27. Keep in mind however that HBS does admit a significant number of students in their 30’s, and that people well above that age do stand a chance if their story is compelling. Do not let anyone tell you that you are too old for HBS (a trap I almost fell into as a 32 year old applicant… but that’s a different story)!

Wanting to measure your chances of admission at Harvard Business School: why not give our algorithm a try? We’re also happy to offer you a free consultation. In any case, make sure to read Kyle’s posts about the HBS application.

* STEM: science, technology, engineering, and mathematics