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Harvard Business School

Essay Analysis Interview Tips Interview Expereince

Harvard Business School
Average GMAT Score730GMAT Range690-760
Total Applicants

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Acceptance Rate

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Class Size934Average Work Experience41 Months
Applicant DeadlinesR1:06-Sep-2017
R2:03-Jan-2018
R3:02-Apr-2018
Decision DatesR1:12-Dec-2017
R2:21-Mar-2018
R3:09-May-2018
Length of Program24 MonthsPlacement Information

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Harvard Essay for the Class of 2018:

There is only one essay question for the Class of 2018:

It’s the first day of class at HBS. You are in Aldrich Hall meeting your “section.” This is the group of 90 classmates who will become your close companions in the first-year MBA classroom. Our signature case method participant-based learning model ensures that you will get to know each other very well. The bonds you collectively create throughout this shared experience will be lasting.

Introduce yourself.

Note: Should you enroll at HBS, there will be an opportunity for you to share this with them.

There is no word limit for this question. Don’t overthink, overcraft and overwrite. Just answer the question in clear language that those of adcom who don’t know your world can understand.

Essays for the Class of 2016:

There is only one essay question for the Class of 2016:

You are applying to Harvard Business School. We can see your resume, school transcripts, extra-curricular activities, awards, post-MBA career goals, test scores and what your recommenders have to say about you. What else would you like us to know as we consider your candidacy? (No word limit)

Essays for the Class of 2015:

Essay 1: Tell us about something you did well. (400 words)

Essay 2: Tell us about something you wish you had done better. (400 words)

Essays for the Class of 2013:

Essay 1: Tell us about three of your accomplishments. (600 words)

Essay 2: Tell us three setbacks you have faced. (600 words)

Essay 3: Why do you want an MBA? (400 words)

Essay 4: Answer a question you wish we'd asked. (400 words)

Harvard Essay Analysis for the Class of 2012-13

Sir Edmund Hillary

Yeah, that's absolutely right. Folks at General Education agree with most people who are reading this article. Harvard is certainly not for everyone. An email address with @hbs.edu domain can't be bought by average human being. OK, if you are not Ambani's son then it's certainly not your fault but Ambanis don't seek help on getting into Harvard J

You've got to have done something that most people can't achieve to get there and only a good wrapper of the profile can't help the candidate. General Education boasts of having helped at least one applicant get into HBS every year. Thanks to all of those HBS applicants who report their success to us. But, we at General Education believe that there are candidates who believe that they have an average profile and then there are those who don't think so (even if they are actually average in all respects). By all means, that's a differentiator enough to get you into a prestigious institute like Harvard.

Following are some guidelines for addressing the challenges posed by Admissions committee of Harvard Business School for it's prestigious MBA program.

Essay 1: Tell us about three of your accomplishments. (600 words)

Analysis:

It's a simple and straightforward question. Harvard Business School's admission committee wants to know how high you think of whatever you have achieved in professional or personal life. So go ahead, bring out that superman / superwoman in your domain and tell HBS why you think so? Some basic rules that you could follow are:

The achievements don't have to look like defense of the professional progressions reflecting in your CV

The achievements should reflect in accompaniments of the applications (e.g. recommendations, CV) as well

The accomplishments have to be necessarily progressive in nature and should reflect different traits of your personality (e.g. leadership, enterprising nature or daring etc).

Don't be egotistical be reasonable to essay evaluators. Admission to Harvard is for achievers and not just glib talkers. Selling is a good skill to have, but overkill usually stands out just like an actual achiever.

Finally, dont underestimate the evaluators. If you scrape through the first stage of evaluation, then interviewers will kick out sham candidates, so being realistic can actually improve chances rather than being someone you are not. Saving the world thrice might suit Superman's profile but not ordinary mortals so please be repetitive in showcasing consequences of your work at the risk of being rejected.

Substantiation is essence to selection in good B-School essays. Ensure the essay is evaluated from people who don't know you at all so that objective opinions are taken well into account from grammar as well as meaning perspective.

Essay 2: Tell us three setbacks you have faced. (600 words)

Analysis:

Addressing the issue of setbacks immediately after question of accomplishments will help admissions committee evaluate the depth of your professional / personal profile. For all candidates, this means bringing out the depth in thought process, but writing overwhelming words and phrases is not what admissions committee is seeking. If your accomplishments make you look like a superhero, then do your setbacks convey the same story? Harvard Business School seeks leadership in all profiles evaluated. Leaders learn from setbacks and move on quickly. Here are a few guidelines that you could follow to address this question:

Setbacks need not necessarily be from professional life. They can be from personal spheres also.

For all the smart cookies who think that setbacks can also be shown in a positive light so that they don't really look like setbacks here's a small advice don't do it. Make a setback look like an actual setback by highlighting the negative impact. The positivity could exude from the lessons learnt, how the negative impact was reduced in magnitude from experience and how quickly you moved on.

Harvard Business School admissions committee values quality of experience more than the quantity and it is known tacitly to all applicants. Tendency to go over the board (e.g. exaggerating the setbacks in magnitude) in increasing the quality might backfire. The best way to avoid this problem is to get the essay evaluated from alumni of the school or students who have been in such environment before.

Alignment with other components of application (e.g. recommendations) is extremely important. The overall maturity of the profile should be highlighted through a subtle discussion of setbacks in recommendations.

Essay 3: Why do you want an MBA? (400 words)

Analysis:

MBA from any good Business School is an experience of a lifetime. The mental capabilities to perform in a professional environment are continuously tested in highly ranked B-Schools. Prospective applicants have different reasons to go for MBA. Many of them range from developing a network that would help the budding entrepreneurs to gaining insight into diverse industry through peer group interactions. Little is known about the fact that all budding entrepreneurs apply for Deutsche Bank's 400K investment banking job. The idea is to keep away from any biases and prejudices and go with an open mind to a B-School.

As an applicant, selection of a good B-School that suits your profile is of utmost importance. The candidate needs to be honest to himself / herself and assess what are the expectations from a particular school's MBA program? This will be a result of the research and continuous interactions with the current students / alumni.

Ideally, an applicant should analyze gaps that he is unable to fill out within professional arena while working towards the larger goals. Then he should select the schools based on his / her preferences and those gaps.

Harvard Business School Admissions Committee is looking for applicants who have a vision to be the next leaders of the corporate world. Such people have clarity on what they want from MBA and why do they want it. Such leaders lead from examples and don't need to refer books for lessons. Their profiles are rich enough to substantiate any reasons / justifications.

General Education consultants help you organize your thoughts and aid through the self-selection process. They have been there and done that which is what you need most right now

Essay 4: Answer a question you wish we'd asked. (400 words)

Analysis:

Alright, so here you go with the different question. It goes without saying that question has to be posted before you write the answer to the same.

It's definitely a tricky question. The best part is, you have to tell Harvard Business School Admissions committee why is this question tricky for you?

There's no laundry list to address these types of questions. Answers to such questions are a function of imagination and creativity bundled reasonably with experience based on facts. Even though, the previous questions touch the extrema of the profile wherein candidates go to vast lengths explaining the difficult situations and how they could save the world, this question actually seeks things that cannot be covered by those flowery details. Also, whatever traits HBS seeks in the applicant profiles, recommendations give the actual story behind such traits. This answer can intelligently be used to align with qualities that recommender has seen from his / her perspective objectively. Here are some possible categories of questions that you would have liked to answer in a reasonably smart way.

Questions related to long term professional goals and short term goals.

Questions based on situation e.g. what if you were made the head of Student body in Harvard Business School?

Questions based on value add to student community

Questions based on social responsibilities

Questions related to current macroeconomic scenarios (e.g. How would you address world's ever growing rift between poor and rich of the world)

General Education Consultants can help you align your thoughts based on myriad situations. Feel free to contact us through the lead form on the right side of this page.

Harvard Essay Analysis for 2010-11

Essay 1 : What are your three most substantial accomplishments and why do you view them as such? (600-word limit)

Analysis:

Harvard B-school program attracts the best minds throughout the globe. Harvard MBA program essay questions are usually very straightforward. If the applicant has a good profile (quite a subjective term, but most applicants understand what is termed good as per Harvard), his / her background and achievements will be reflected in those answers.

This question is fairly straightforward. Applicants usually go tremendous lengths to explain how they saved the world from AIDS virus thrice (remember; only three accomplishments are asked). The smart applicants follow some simple rules as given below:

Write down the accomplishments in some order (either degree of accomplishment or chronographic)

Attribute reasons to why they think that accomplishments are great.

Tie-in the accomplishments with the overall profile and create a worthwhile story with respect to other questions (remember, the whole story has to highlight only 2 to 3 traits (e.g. Leadership, Analytical skills etc.)

Ensure that the story is within the word limit of 600 words.

Incisive minds would write real stories that are grounded with an appropriate context setting of the environment / situation of the accomplishment. The smarter ones would actually notice that adding a line or two about what they learnt (perhaps about themselves) from the situations won't harm their chances. In essence, this essay will be like a CV written in prose with space only for three achievements in 600 words.

Good luck with the essay and do Let General Education experts know if you need any help!

Essay 2: What have you learnt from a mistake?

Analysis:

To err is Human and to forgive divine

Most of us would have come across this phrase at some point of time in our life. Learning from a mistake is a leadership quality. A person who learns from his / her mistake has an inclination to improve continually, that differentiates him / her from the peers and if implemented correctly, will make him / her true leader.

Traditionally, the applicants like to highlight mistakes that are not really mistakes because there is always some positive aspect associated to the mistake. There's no harm in doing that, but the idea has been beaten to death. The question is asking for a mistake and even if it is something that started a nuclear war there's no harm in writing it because the crux lies in the first part of the question viz. what did the applicant learn from it? Admissions committee wants to understand whether applicant has really learnt anything and he is capable of presenting / packaging it properly? Harvard Business School is known for preparing leaders; the program is seeking the leadership acumen within the applicant through this question as well.

To address this question, one needs to clearly list down the mistake within appropriate context. Remember that it is extremely important to explain the context, background and actual, possible consequences of the mistake. The learning from the mistake has to come out clearly and should be realistic in nature. Any unrealistic learning will clearly indicate that the event highlighted is fictitious and there has been no learning at all.

Good Luck with the question! Do let the experts at General Education know how they can help you address this question?

Essay 3: Please respond to two of the following (400-word limit per essay):

Analysis:

HBS admissions committee always spoils the applicants with choices. The smarter lot picks up the choices where he can portray maximum examples and relevant information about self. Instead of asking specifically about the career, persona and decision making aspects of the applicant's life, HBS is asking the applicant to pick and choose the ideas that suit his / her profile. Ideally, the applicant should at least jot down the points for all the questions and should pick up the two topics where minimum overlap of information happens. This is just one approach as to what General Education expert thinks.

Essay 4: What would you like the MBA Admissions Board to know about your undergraduate academic experience?

Analysis:

This is certainly something unique. Unless one is really into application of what he studied in undergraduate; how many applicants do actually remember the academic experience? Five years after undergraduate studies, one may not remember how an internal combustion engine worked but s/he would certainly remember how s/he spent night upon night making the final year project work. The good old friends of yore have lost some hair and the waistline has increased to the point of no return. Yes, most of the applicants remember those good old friends. HBS admissions committee is not asking about friends and how they helped applicant clear multidimensional linear algebra, but is certainly interested in knowing how those 3 or 4 years helped shape up applicant's personality and what were his / her essential takeaways from those years.

One of the possible (and easiest) approaches could be to answer the question in a chronological order. The admissions committee does not want to know the semester-wise details of applicant's electives or major / minors but would certainly lend an ear to his/her interactions and impressions about a faculty. If there are any academic achievements then this is the perfect time and place to list them here. Any particular incidents / academic experiences that have stayed with the applicant for long time deserve a mention here. Remember that admissions committee is asking about academic experience so mentioning co-curricular and extra-curricular activities may drag the focus of essay out of scope. HBS is particular on the undergraduate background and prefers candidates who have done exceptionally well. So, all the stars accrued during those undergraduate years need to be elaborated here.

Good Luck with the essay ! Fill up the form on the right side of the page, if you need help on HBS essays. We have the right experience with us for you.

Essay 5: What is your career vision and why is this choice meaningful to you?

Analysis:

It is a question where HBS admissions committee is asking why applicant chose a career path and having spent so much of time in it, how does he intend to take it forward within the gamut of reasons that lie behind pursuing such a career path. Is it the fat paycheck (even if it was, no one would explicitly mention it) or is passion driving the choices or is it just the personality (e.g. I like an outdoor life so I chose to be a wildlife photographer)? Remember that admissions committee is going to check for consistency during the subsequent phases of profile evaluation. Career vision has to be seen in the light of a long term. HBS is asking applicant about his/her long term professional goals purely in terms of career. E.g., one could have a professional goal to be the CEO of a sports management organization. Yet another applicant could have a goal of reaching the highest position in his / her organization and so on.

This question could be mistaken with listing down the professional goals and subsequent justification but an applicant wouldn't be able to hit a home run with this mistake. When the term career is used, a person is expected not to mention only the goals but also the intermediate steps because they constitute the career. Unless luck would have it or the applicant is an entrepreneur or a high profile executive with several years of experience behind, it is highly unlikely that he makes a significant lateral jump within the career. To address the first part, one needs to logically list down the steps within the career with expected reasonable tenure to achieve them.

The main part of the question is the second one where HBS is asking, why it makes sense for the applicant to have such a vision of the career. Is it meaningful because passion is the driving force or is it because the choice adds meaning to his / her existence? The explanation should be logical laced with examples and reasons. It should not look like a justification or a defence of the choices made, but should fit into the overall profile actively and should actually be driving the profile. If there have been any outliers due to medical or special situations, that have forced the applicant to ride the bumps, they should be mentioned too. Don�t forget the alignment with the other questions else it might depict lack of maturity. In the end, the presentation matters.

Essay 6: Tell us about a time in your professional experience when you were frustrated or disappointed.

Analysis:

There are frustrations associated with every job today. HBS admissions committee is not asking the details of the disappointing situation, but actually trying to understand how the applicant behaved, reacted, controlled the outcome of the situation (i.e. if he did) and managed his / her frustration. The question is straightforward and the applicant is expected to focus on systematically presenting the experience like setting the context, explain the background of the situation and then subsequent outcome / management of the situation.

A lot of applicants believe that uniqueness of the situation and its management fetches most number of eyeballs. A lot would be surprised to know that the factors / traits being evaluated here are maturity in handling the frustration irrespective of the size or uniqueness of the cause of the situation or the situation itself. So, while the situation could be mundane (as mundane as walking back to home from work), but what definitely matters is the packaging of the situation.

A few important points to keep in mind while addressing this question are:

The situation need not be professional. It could be a personal situation.

The presentation of the frustration / desperation need not be overly dramatic. The context setting is most important here.

Clearly spell out the cause of frustration

Clearly spell out the outcome of situation

Thinking beyond the frustration helps only to a limit (e.g. how the applicant managed the situation) but not at the cost of word limit.

Good Luck with the question. If our experts could be of any help, do give us a call or reach out through the form on the right side of the page.

Essay 6: When you join the HBS Class of 2013, how will you introduce yourself to your new classmates?

Analysis:

The first impression is the last impression. Isn't that really what 99% of people in modern urban society would like to believe?

Any top ivy school MBA program is rigorous and one definitely needs help of his / her peer group in different capacities to complete the course. The camaraderie built over the span of two years would definitely help not only through the school but also beyond the program. Few years down the line after graduating from the MBA program, one may not remember the case studies done in 2 years of HBS program, but he would certainly remember the friends who helped him pass through the corporate finance course. Undermining the importance of networking in today's world would be a mistake.

To address this question, an applicant would be expected to put all his / her innovation skills to test. An innovative way of introduction would certainly leave a long lasting impression in a bunch of 100 odd students per section.

HBS is asking this question to understand what traits of persona the applicant values most as their reflection would show up in the introduction he makes to the peer group. Mentioning the work-experience in chronological order would be a hackneyed idea because it tells only about one aspect of personality.

The trick lies in combining the personal and professional traits in the introduction. To know more on addressing this question, let General Education Experts help you guide through the essay.

Recommender Questions

Recommendations must be completed online. The form includes the following three essay response questions, along with other types of questions.

Please comment on the context of your interaction with the applicant. How long have you known the applicant and in what connection? If applicable, briefly describe the applicant's role in your organization. (250-word limit)

Please describe the most important piece of constructive feedback you have given the applicant. Please detail the circumstances and the applicant's response. (250-word limit)

Please make additional statements about the applicant's performance, potential, or personal qualities you believe would be helpful to the MBA Admissions Board. (250-word limit)

Essay Question For Year 2009-10

Essay 1

What are your three most substantial accomplishments and why do you view them as such? Please limit your response to two, double-spaced, typed pages.

We suggest that you choose 3 accomplishments based on following factors:

Impact: These accomplishments should have made a big impact. The impact could be professional (e.g. increased sales by $XX, started a company, effectively managed a diverse team) or personal (e.g. changed you as a person).

Leadership: The example should showcase your leadership traits/qualities. Harvard is big on leadership and any example that underscores leadership would be powerful.

Diversity of examples: It would be advisable to have examples from different areas of your work (e.g. professional, community work). Must have at least one example from the professional environment.

Essay 2

What have you learned from a mistake? Please limit your response to two, double-spaced, typed pages.

The most powerful examples are one where the mistake is personal and the learning is powerful and lasting (e.g. something that has taught you to change the way you work). Focus both on mistake and learning, they should go hand in hand. E.g. On an assignment in a foreign country as a team leader, I did not spend time learning the local culture and the personality of my team members. This created a dysfunctional team environment which ultimately led to delay in the project. This taught me an important lesson to invest time upfront to understand my team mates.

Essay 3

Please respond to two of the following :

1. What would you like the MBA Admissions Board to know about your undergraduate academic experience? Please limit your response to two, double-spaced, typed pages.

Focus on something that is not already mentioned in the above essays and the one that showcases leadership (e.g. president of student association, started a non-profit, tutored kids in local school, played in a rock band) and also the breadth of your personality (e.g. examples of leadership role in sports or cultural organizations).

2. Discuss how you have engaged with a community or organization.Please limit your response to two, double-spaced, typed pages.

Give an example where you have made an impact (e.g. helped XX kids go to school, provided food to XX people) in a community organization. Just participation would not be a powerful example. Also, it should showcase a leadership trait (e.g. initiative taking, fund rising, stating a community organization).

3. What area of the world are you most curious about and why? Please limit your response to two, double-spaced, typed pages.

It would be good if your example ties into a story that you have touched upon in your previous essays (e.g. professional or personal). Also, your choice of place and why would convey an aspect of your personality, so think carefully before choosing your example.

4. What is your career vision and why is this choice meaningful to you? Please limit your response to two, double-spaced, typed pages.

Be ambitious in your career vision. Just saying that you want to work in a strategy consulting firm is not ambitious enough (that is easy if you get into Harvard). Harvard looks for people who have the vision to make a big impact in the world. So, be ambitious and bold, yet realistic in your career vision (e.g. entrepreneurship).

Also, the part about why it is meaningful is very important. This conveys what you value.

     
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