HBS Round Two Decisions

By Kyle Watkins (last updated: March 21, 2017)

On Wednesday, March 22nd, 2017, Harvard Business School will be sending round-two notifications to applicants who went through the interview process this winter.

50% to 60% of interviewed applicants should receive an offer from HBS.

The Baker Library

The Baker Library

Harvard Business School’s admissions rate has been pretty steady in recent years, and when emails go out at noon, Boston time, on Wednesday, more than half of second-round interviewees should receive a positive answer. These lucky applicants will have more than 5 months to get ready for their HBS journey, and their main challenges going forward will be to stay focused at work, and plan their attendance at the Admitted Student Weekend in Boston.

Getting ready for B-School

In order to matriculate next fall, admitted students will have to go through a few administrative tasks, but HBS does a great job at keeping track of everything through their pre-matriculation checklist, so it should not cause any stress. This is one of the most obvious benefits of applying in round two.

In some cases, the background check process (most likely performed by Kroll) may generate some stress, for example for admitted students who suddenly realize that their business title differs from their HR job description (a not so uncommon occurrence). Assuming that these discrepancies are minor and aren’t intentional misrepresentations, the employment and academic verifications should be very smooth however.

For those interested in getting a glimpse at what being an HBS students looks like, we recommend reading Ahead of the Curve: Two Years at Harvard Business School. Although not always perfectly accurate, this book is an interesting and fun read.

Waitlisted Candidates

Having dealt with the waitlist process at a top B-School myself (although not HBS), 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 how to react, and 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, wrote a post about dealing with the waitlist decision, and we dedicated one of our 10-step guides to “navigating the wailtlist process“. Although waitlisted candidates should follow instructions provided by HBS (the school usually tells candidates on its wailtist to confirm their interest and be patient), in some cases there are steps that can be taken to maximize your chances.

HBS through its admissions director is doing a very good job at providing clear and frequent updates to waitlisted candidates. We will try to centralize this information along with anecdotes from other waitlisted applicants, so check our blog regularly for updates.


Months of effort and hopes will be torn into pieces for applicants who receive a ding notification from HBS. But it is important to quickly move on should you receive the dreaded “Sorry, but no” email.

Try to understand what happened. In recent years, Harvard Business School has offered to provide feedback to applicants who received a ding after their interview. Do not let that opportunity pass (assuming the admissions team is still accepting calls from unlucky interviewees this year). The feedback you’ll receive will be pretty useful should you decide to apply to other programs in round 3, or reapply to HBS in the future.

In any case, stay positive. HBS 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.

Next steps

If you have just received an admissions offer from HBS, congratulations! You are about to go on an amazing journey that will bring countless opportunities. Should you want to discuss the background check process and more generally how to best prepare for HBS, 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. Keep in mind however that there is actually little you can do in the case of HBS, and we have tried to cover  this topic in past posts.

Finally, we have provided ding analyses to several candidates in the past, and have helped them secure interviews or admissions offers at other top programs, such as MIT, Wharton, Darden, and Columbia. Our Ding Analysis service has been regularly described by our clients as one of the best in terms of value.

Just reach out to us through our contact form should you wish to receive additional information.

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