Just four days ago on April 30th, hundreds of 2+2 applicants to Harvard Business School’s MBA program received either an invite to now interview with an admission official or what the school politely calls an “early release.” Translation for this latter group: You’re out of luck this time. Apply later if still interested.
In advance of the 2+2 notification day on May 30th, the school’s admission staffers wil will now do 30-minute interviews with every candidate who was lucky enough to get an invite. Not surprisingly, those applicants are anxious about their upcoming sessions with HBS.
So we turned again to Sandy Kreisberg, founder and CEO of HBSGuru.com, a leading MBA admissions consultant, for some timely advice for not only Harvard’s 2+2 applicants, but also undergraduate applicants to other deferred admission programs at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business, Yale School of Management, and other business schools.
You would be hardpressed to find a better expert. No one reads tea leaves at HBS better than Kreisberg who in a typical year will do mock interviews with 150 of the 1,900 candidates invited to interview with the school. That’s a high sample rate, allowing Kreisberg to gather more intelligence on the questions asked of applicants than any other MBA admission consultant in the world.
The people he counsels often share their experiences with him. Here are two examples:
- If you could go back and do something differently about your undergraduate experience what would it be?
- Let’s start with your extracurriculars. Can you tell me how you got involved with _____________ and how was your role as President.
- Let’s talk about your work experience chronologically. Tell me about working for (Lots of follow up questions)
- You say that did X as part of that job, how was that, how did you act as a peer leader?
- What did that company say about you in your end of summer review?
- What drives you?
- Where do you get your news from?
- We have 90 seconds left, what question did you prepare for that you wish I had asked? (I said strengths and weaknesses).
- Or how about this one:
- “She started off by saying she would like to hear about what I am passionate about, why I’ve made the choices I’ve made in my career and how I got where I was.”
- Let’s talk about your involvement in school, why did you get involved in what you did?
- What extracurricular activity gave you the most satisfaction? What surprised you and what did you learn from this involvement?
- She then asked me to introduce myself to my classmates.
- The first question was about my job last summer at a Fortune 500 company.
- She asked a lot of questions about the company,
- What are some challenges?
- Who is the CEO and did I think he was doing a good job?
- Pretend you had five minutes to “fill in” a classmate on the future challenges of this industry?
- Is it difficult for a new company to enter this market? Is there anything you would like to add, something you were expecting us to ask, something you wish to let us know around yourself that wasn’t covered?
Of course, the questions are one thing. The answers are entirely another. In this Zoom video feature, Kreisberg puts Poets&Quants founder John A. Byrne through the paces of a simulated 2+2 interview. Byrne doesn’t do all that well, but at every point, Kreisberg offers highly valuable advice on how to turn a dumb answer into a smart one.
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