Harvard Business SchoolBelow are MBA admissions interview questions and experiences submitted by HBS applicants. If you interviewed at Harvard Business School, we encourage you to submit a report detailing your experience!
Interviewed in an off-campus hub with adcom. Interview was succinct, straight forward, and generally conversational. Overall, I don’t think I had any major points I didn’t get across and ultimately was admitted!
1) Let’s talk about (first company)- what do they do? What did you do there?
2) What’s your average day look like?
3) What’s the next big brand in your industry?
4) Let’s talk about (second company)- what do they do? Tell me about your job there?
5) What would you do differently if you were CEO?
6) What have you learned from your current manager?
7) What’s the biggest difference between first company and second company
8) Let’s talk about you- how’d you end up at (undergrad institution)?
9) Why that industry after college?
10) What’s your go-to strength?
11) And a weakness?
12) Lets talk about HBS- how have you gotten to know us?
13) What have you heard that you hope is true?
14) What have you heard that you hope is not true?
15) What books do you read?
16) What’s an issue in the news you always follow?
17) Anything you wished I asked?
18) Any questions for me?
The interview started with the question “which was the last book you read?” as the first of many personal questions they asked me. They asked then “Why did you decide to apply to this business school? “, “What makes you stand out among other candidates?”, “How do you plan to use your degree?”, “Where do you see yourself in ten years?”, “Can you give me an example of a time that you demonstrated leadership?”. Then the very feared “Can you walk me through your resume?”, and concluding with “With all of your experience, why do you need an MBA?”.
From my point of view, it was quite a demanding interview, but that’s normal, given that it is round 1. It is clear that they only accept the best applicants. I was not surprised of that, the level they were asking for.
As a conclusion, I would say it was a tough interview but in the end it’s going to be worth it, since Harvard is an excellent school and deserves all my effort.
I interviewed in November in a hub city. My interview was conducted by two Adcom members, although only one of them was an active speaker, the other one being an active listener. Both were quite active writers!
At first, I thought having to deal with two people would add some more stress to the whole process, but it was actually quite the opposite, as having almost continuous eye contact helped me build some confidence. After the usual greeting, I was told that the interview would last 30 min (which it did), that there would be no time left for my questions and that I might be interrupted from time to time (which actually never happened). The questions were generally to the point and based on my application, no real curve balls. Some of them induced follow-up questions.
. Why don’t you tell us about yourself?
. How did you end up at your current company?
. How have you navigated through your career since then?
. Tell us about something you still find difficult at your job.
. How do you react to feedback?
. Tell us more about your career plans.
. Explain something complicated you’re working on right now in simple words.
The interview was neither laid back nor too tense, rather very professional and enjoyable. I was somehow frustrated because there were several points I wish I had the opportunity to mention, but then again the most important thing is to answer THEIR questions. Also, I find that the newly added Post-Interview-Reflection helps a lot in getting that frustration off one’s chest. My advice to prospectives: know your application in and out, be ready to talk about the choices you have made and to justify the important transitions in your life in a structured and concise way.
I arrived on campus at 9 am and participated in the different activities they offered for interviewees. The day in general was very impressive and enjoyable, with an interesting lunch speaker, tour of the campus, and class observation. My interview was early afternoon, and was with an adcom. Started off with basic questions like tell me about yourself, what do you do in your job, and some follow up questions asking me to provide detail on certain things I said. I’d suggest knowing your application inside and out and know exactly what you want to do when you graduate and what internship you’d like because the adcom grilled me pretty good on what I said. I’d also suggest knowing what your Plan B is if whatever your goal/Plan A falls through. Overall, it was pretty straight forward and in line with what I have read about HBS interviews. The adcom was extremely friendly and enthusiastic, and it was definitely my most enjoyable interview experience. I was accepted last week in the 1st round.
I interviewed at Harvard in November 2012. The interview was exactly 30 minutes and in the room was a man asking questions, a woman silently taking notes, and myself. It was a little awkward.
Below are the questions I was asked, though they are not in order. They weren’t any of the questions I saw in past years, and it was a pretty tense interview. The interviewers were very hard to read.
• What’s a piece of constructive criticism that you’ve been given that you didn’t agree with?
• What do you know now that you wish you’d known earlier at your job? (4th year vs. 1&2)
• When did you have to tell a peer something difficult?
• What would be your dream internship during the summer?
• How did you form your opinion about Harvard and what is it?
• What would you cut out of your job if you could cut out one aspect?
• What part of your job do you like the best?
• What is one criticism you have of Harvard?
• What don’t I know about you from your application?
• What’s a spontaneous decision you made?
• How did you get your internship? How much influence did you have over it?
• Of the following 5 people, if you had no other obligations, who would you want to spend 2 years with (trade negotiator for BRIC countries, Teacher in bad area, Doctor for infections diseases…)?
• How would you introduce yourself to your new classmates in 2-3 sentences?
• How did you prepare for the interview?
• What questions do you have for me?
Very friendly and down to earth interview with an admissions committee member. The interview started off with some small talk and then she explained that she would ask me a series of questions and would be looking at her watch frequently and might have to cut me off, she never ended up cutting me off and was taking notes but also looked at me and had good eye contact as I spoke. Below are the questions I received:
- What did you think of the Harvard application process? Anything that we should change?
- What was your rationale for choosing X undergrad school?
- Walk me through your career progression.
- Tell me about what you do? What are your responsibilities?
- Talk to me a bit more about your future career aspirations.
- What type of leader are you? Provide an example.
- What type of things do you like to read?
- What is a company that you admire outside of the business field?
- What motivates you to work hard every day?
- What will you get out of your experience at Harvard? How will you fill your time?
- How will you contribute to the case method?
- Is there anything else that you would like to talk to me to about?
First note: I felt like I absolutely bombed my interview, so there is hope. The experience was very cordial and friendly, but the questions were rapid-fire, and there was little “flow” to the interview. I generally enjoy these types of situations and try to engage the interviewer in conversation as much as possible. However, I felt that this experience was somewhat surprising; questions bounced all over my application without any clear order or sequence (at least that I could see). In addition, I was surprised by the adcom’s focus on my first job, which I left some time ago. I currently work in consulting, and given the large number of consultants they see, I guess my first role (engineering) was more fascinating/unique. However, it caught me off guard as I prepped most of my answers around my current job. Here are the questions I received (in no particular order):
- How did I end up at my undergrad?
- What would my high school friends have said about my strengths/weaknesses?
- What would my college friends have said about my strenghts/weaknesses?
- How would I describe my previous job (technical role) to non-engineers?
- Some specific questions about my first job
- What colleges did I apply to and where did I get in?
- What jobs did I apply to out of college and where did I get offers?
- If I hadn’t taken my first job, which other offer would I have taken and why?
- How many current HBS students do I know and have I talked to?
- How many HBS alumni do I know and have I talked to?
- What perspectives have I gained regarding HBS in talking to students/alumni?
- What do I want to start/stop/continue doing in life?
- What would they find surprising about me(asked again after providing my first answer)?
As the interview went on, I was feeling pretty lousy (e.g., forgetting answers I’d prepped and knowing I was answering some questions horribly); towards the end, I decided to be as blunt as possible and open up, hoping that it would salvage something. With the “what would surprise me about you,” I gave a very personal answer that I think may have helped. At the end of the day, I’d encourage you to think through the possible scenarios/questions, but, most importantly, be as honest and excited about yourself as possible.
Similar to the previous post, I wanted to wait until my decision was official. But I received the fantastic news today, so I wanted to share some insight. I interviewed on campus and came a day early, which if you can, I recommend so you can get settled in and not feel the anxiety of traveling and interviewing on the same day. I visited a class, which I also recommend, as I definitely spoke about that experience in my interview. I was ready for any question related to my application, but to my surprise, most of my ?s were not directly related to my app. My questions:
- How are you dealing with this current work situation? (my company had been in the news, and he went right to the elephant in the room) (several follow-up questions)
- What is your short term career goal? (I spoke about my long term goal in my “why mba” essay)
- Why do you want to pursue your long term goal?
- Break down the marketing strategy of a company in your industry
- Where do you think you might struggle at HBS?
- What is a performance weakness at work that you are working to improve?
- Tell me about a company outside of your industry that you are following
- Is there anything that you wished I asked you or you wanted to share?
I am sure there were other questions, but I don’t remember exactly. It was a blur! You will be shocked when they say your 30 min is up. Be confident, but be humble. Good luck!
Received the good news yesterday and thought would share my experience. I interviewed in one of the international hub locations. Prior to the interview, I spent a great deal of time to sort out my thoughts for the seemingly infinite list of questions on this site. In the end, fortunately or unfortunately, I was asked none of the oddball questions I prepared for. Below are the the key themes we spoke about (each had several follow up questions, which really made it more of a conversation than interview)
- Tell me about your move to XYZ grad school
- Why did you stay in NYC post graduation and not go back to home country?
- Tell me about your foray into theatre. Who is your favorite actor? Why?
- What was your favorite broadway play in New York? Why?
- Tell me about ABC consulting firm
- Tell me about your toughest and most analytical consulting project as if I am from TFA
- Why PE?
- Tell me about the PE landscape in home country? Compare your firm to firm X, firm Y, firm Z.
- Have you visited the school?
Looking back, I think it is critical to let your personality shine in the interview, know your application well and just have a good time. Be energetic, confident and humble. Good luck!
I saved this so I could at least give a definitive answer as to whether I got in or not. I was fortunate enough to be admitted today (ahh!!) and promised to update this. I interviewed back in mid-November, on-campus. I did a student lunch prior, which was pretty fun. My interview was definitely of the “stress-free” variety and I actually enjoyed talking to my interviewer; she was really sweet and pretty conversational, which I found interesting. I left wanting to grab coffee or dinner with her. The 30 minutes goes by really fast so just be aware. I didn’t feel flustered at all — the interviewers are actually really nice and know it’s a stressful situation, regardless. In any case, here are the questions that I received:
- Pretend i haven’t read your resume, tell me about yourself.
- Why X college? What was your most memorable experience there?
- Pretend I’m from TFA and I sit next to you in class. Tell me about what your firm does. (3 or 4 follow up questions)
- Tell me about your role as an associate – what do you do everyday?
- What’s a good day?
- What’s a bad day?
- What is your biggest strength? Biggest weakness?
- Talked about my volunteer about. She actually commented that she saw a lot of people from my volunteer org so it was interesting. Why did you join X volunteer org? How do you get people to join? How do you vet them? What do you do with volunteers who are not performing?
- Small talk about some alumni stuff I’m involved in. What is your favorite question to ask as an alumni interviewer?
- You mentioned that you had some really great mentors. Tell me about one.
- What do you do for fun? (i mentioned yoga and tv). What tv shows are you currently watching? Can you recommend one?
- HBS orchestra question – if you were an instrument, what would you be?
- How do you think you have you changed?
- anything you would’ve liked me to ask you? (I went with the ol’ Why Case Study route. I had a pretty compelling answer because I sat in a great class earlier that day but I think it was too standard.)
Interviewed on Nov 21, 2011. It was conversational in nature, my interviewer was extremely friendly but explained that she would cut me off sometimes and it should not be interpreted as being rude.
- Assume that I have not read your application. Tell me about yourself
- Why did you decide to work for Company ‘X’ after graduation?
- What is your current job like? Many follow up questions based upon what I had said.
- Have you had the experience to manage difficult personalities? How have you handled that?
- What makes for a good day for you?
- What makes for a bad day for you?
- What do you look for when you conduct candidate screenings? How do you make sure that the candidates selected by you can be presented in front of the client (I had mentioned that I am heavily engaged into recruiting and staffing open positions at my current client)
- What do you like about (specific interest on my resume)?
- You have had a lot of schooling? Why business school? Why HBS? (I have a graduate degree already)
- You are doing so great at your company and ready for next promotion. Why MBA now?
- What would be your biggest challenge at HBS?
- What are your 3 key strengths?
- What is a weakness that you have been working on?
- What would do immediately after graduating from B School?
- Is there anything you wish we had asked that I did not cover? (I spoke more about my long term goal)