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  • Writer's pictureMalvika Patil

Harvard MBA Interview Questions 2023-24

Updated: Jan 30



So, you’ve reached the MBA interview stage at Harvard Business School! This is a great sign that the Admissions Committee likes your profile. But your work isn’t done here. To rise to the top of HBS’s competitive interview round and secure an offer, you now need to spend time learning about the HBS interview process, who will interview you, the questions you’ll be asked, and the answers they’re looking for.


In this HBS interview guide, we’ll take you through the different aspects of the HBS MBA interview process, including questions previously posed to interviewed candidates and tips to ace the MBA interview.


The HBS MBA Interview Process


The HBS MBA interview is a highly customized, non-blind interview. This means that the interviewer has seen all your application material - your essays, application details, resume, and recommendations, and has prepared a specific set of questions based on this material. This may include questions about details you haven’t clarified or left unnoticed. That does not mean that there isn’t much room for maneuver. Your interviewer may change the question prompt if an interesting point comes up during the conversation.


The non-blind interview style means that the interviewer will not ask questions that can easily be answered by going through your file. If you simply recap your written material, the interviewer will typically intervene and take back control of the conversation to encourage you to go beyond the written application.


So, the first step in preparing for your HBS interview is to work with your consultant to review your application from every perspective. This will help you come up with interesting questions about your decisions and values that you may have only passingly mentioned in your application.


The interviewer will stick to their 30-minute timeline, so practice in that format. Prepare to adapt your responses quickly to curveball questions and practice composure so that the interviewer does not rattle you.


Your interviewer will most likely be a core member of the HBS Admissions Committee or an admissions expert working with HBS on a contractual basis. Unlike some other schools, don’t expect to meet a second-year student who shares your personal or professional background.


The interview will be fast paced and lead into specific, follow-up questions. This interview style helps the school understand how you’ll respond to classroom discussions and debates. HBS is looking for candidates who can start thought-provoking discussions and logically back up their opinion using insights from their professional experience. They are interested in how you communicate, adapt, and demonstrate a genuine interest in the school.


Post Interview Reflection


Within 24 hours of your interview, you will be asked to submit a post-interview reflection. This includes direct questions, as well as an unstructured space for you to reflect on your interview. There is no word limit for this essay. However, a sensible guide is to stick to less than 1 page. This is not a formal essay, so don't approach it too clinically. For more advice on the post-interview reflection, check out our HBS essay analysis.



What HBS is looking for


The HBS MBA is a two-year, full-time program with a general management curriculum focused on leadership and real-world practice. At HBS, “they challenge you to think differently.” So, while interviewing you, they are keen to see that you are intellectually curious, have the ability to develop an opinion or perspective, and showcase a pragmatic mindset.



The Evaluation


Given that the interview is so personalized and only core senior members take the interviews, the interviewer has a significant say in your application decision.


After each MBA interview, the interviewer sends a detailed report of the entire interview process. In certain cases, candidates report that their interviewer was accompanied by a notetaker. Whether you have a notetaker or not, your answers are being evaluated carefully and you’ll receive one of three recommendations:

  • They love you!

  • You were fine, but not particularly noteworthy.

  • Rejected.

Most people who are just “fine” get rejected. So, ensure that you put your best foot forward in the interview. Here’s a tip we’d like to share: the interviewer knows a lot about you already, having read your application and resume. Now, your job is to get them excited about you. A good way to do this is to craft your answers memorably and take charge of your narrative. No matter what questions they ask, they should walk away with a defined view of who you are and your personal brand. This could be “Ms. Tarot Reader Nurse”, or “Mr. Consultant cum Chef”.




HBS MBA Interview Questions 2023 - 2024


As we mentioned above, most of the questions you’ll be asked during your interview will be personalized for your profile. You’ll also get several follow-up questions based on your responses.


Here are some of the questions that previous applicants have been asked:


Introduction

  1. Walk me through your resume.

  2. Tell me about yourself.


Questions to get to know you better

  1. What do you do outside of work?

  2. Describe the organizational culture you'd like to be part of in your next job.

  3. If someone in your team isn't pulling their weight, what would you do?

  4. What's your biggest weakness?

  5. How did undergrad compare to what you expect at HBS?

  6. Tell me about your recommenders.

  7. What did you learn about adapting to other cultures?

  8. You’ve explained in your essay why you pivoted from banking to tech, but why were you originally interested in joining banking?


Behavioral questions

  1. Can you explain more about the problems the industry faces?

  2. Any story about a situation where it did not turn into your favor? What have you learned?

  3. Can you tell me when you had to make a difficult decision?

  4. What was your favorite class in college?

  5. Discuss an example of ethical conflict at your prior job.

  6. How do you manage your subordinates remotely?

  7. What are the technologies you are using and most excited about? What are you doing differently than your competitors?

  8. What is your leadership style?

  9. Any ethical dilemmas in your idea (If tech related)?

  10. Tell me about a time when you had an interpersonal conflict in your team. How did you handle it?

  11. Tell me about a time when you influenced an individual.

  12. What does diversity mean to you?

  13. What 3 words would your friends use to describe you?


About the school

  1. Why HBS?

  2. Why the HBS MBA?

  3. What kind of people do you look forward to meeting at HBS?

  4. What’s going to be difficult for you at HBS?

  5. How will your participation at an Innovation and Entrepreneurship program help you transition careers to a startup?

  6. How will an HBS MBA help you start your own venture?

  7. How will you use the HBS MBA to make a career transition from ‘X’ to ‘Y’?

  8. Why ‘X’ club at HBS?

  9. How will you add value to the ‘X’ club at HBS?

  10. How will you use your previous professional experience in the HBS classroom?

  11. Are there any classes that you find particularly interesting?


A chance to bring something up


Is there anything important about your profile that we didn't mention?

If you’re asked, “Is there anything else about your profile that you think we should’ve brought up or didn’t ask you about,” don’t let it slide. Recall all the experiences and stories you wanted to share with your interviewer and use this prompt to bring them up if they weren’t discussed earlier.



Tips to Ace the HBS MBA Interview


To prepare for an HBS interview, practice is key. Work with your consultant or friend using 30-minute mock interviews that include personalized questions from your application material.


Avoid using notes, and let the conversation flow organically and listen and adapt as you go. Be prepared to answer any follow-up questions that the interviewer may prod you about.


The interviewer is hoping to engage you in a thoughtful discussion and get you to share your point of view, so don’t shy away from making a statement. However, ensure that it is logical, straightforward, and rooted in your real-world experience. Be honest and don’t give answers that you think the AdCom may like. Your responses should truly reflect who you are as a person.


Practice staying calm in difficult situations and not letting the interviewer get in your head. If you feel intimidated by the interviewer at any given moment, take a deep breath before answering the question.


For more interview advice and practice with mock interviews, check out the Interview Guide course on MBAConsultant.com.

 

Thinking of applying to Harvard MBA? Book a free chat today.

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