I Overview HBS MBA Interview

Annually, the Harvard admissions committee extends invitations to a select group of applicants for interviews in connection with its MBA program. Esteemed MBA programs, such as Harvard’s, typically conduct interviews with 2-3 candidates for each available spot in the upcoming MBA class. While receiving an invitation is an indication that you are being considered for admission, it also places you in a highly competitive subgroup within the broader pool of applicants. To enhance your readiness for the interview, you can utilize this guide and, if desired, take advantage of the Mock Interview Service.

Tip: Curious about whether interview invitations have been issued? Check out MBA LiveWire for real-time updates.

Question Who conducts Harvard Business School MBA interviews?

Trained members of the admissions committee at Harvard conduct MBA interviews. Previously, candidates underwent interviews with two committee members, where one posed questions while the other took notes. However, more recently, the format has shifted, and candidates are now typically interviewed by a single interviewer.

Question Are HBS MBA interviews resume-based or application-based?

Harvard’s MBA program follows an application-based interview approach. This entails that your admissions committee interviewer(s) will have thoroughly reviewed your entire application before the interview. Harvard’s interview process is customized for each candidate, ensuring that questions are tailored specifically to individual profiles. Unlike generic questions such as ‘Tell me about yourself,’ the focus is on eliciting insights relevant to each applicant’s unique background and experiences.

Question How important is the Harvard Business School MBA interview?

The influence of the Harvard Business School MBA interview on the admissions decision is high.

When a school, such as HBS (Harvard Business School), exclusively entrusts a select group of trained admissions committee members with interview responsibilities, the interview assumes a substantial role in the admissions process. Given HBS’s reliance on the case method within its classrooms, the interview becomes a crucial assessment point. Admissions committee members, during this process, seek candidates who not only possess innovative ideas but can also effectively articulate them. This emphasis reflects the school’s commitment to identifying individuals who can actively contribute to the dynamic and participatory learning environment fostered by the case method.

II Mock MBA Interviews

Apart from independently practicing common interview questions, utilizing the mock interview service provides an excellent opportunity to receive constructive feedback on your professional narratives with the aim of enhancing them. Common MBA and EMBA interview queries often revolve around topics such as goals (e.g., “Tell me about yourself? What are your goals? Why pursue an MBA? Why this particular school?”), strengths and weaknesses, and behavioral scenarios (e.g., “Tell me about a time when…?”).

Below, you have the chance to hear former clients respond to MBA interview questions and receive feedback on their answers. For instance, in part 1, an audit professional addresses the question “Tell me about yourself” and then receives feedback in part 2. Similarly, an employee compensation consultant tackles the behavioral question “Tell me about a time when you mentored someone” in part 1, followed by feedback in part 2.

Part 1. Candidate answers the mock interview question Tell me about yourself. The candidate responds by giving a chronological overview of his work experience (which is a common approach people take to this interview question).
Part 2. Feeback on candidate's response to the mock interview question Tell me about yourself. The candidate learns to structure his answer to this question in terms of professional growth (rather than chronologically).
Part 1. Candidate answers the behavioral mock interview question Tell me about a time when you mentored someone. The candidate gives a lengthy response (listen to part 2 for feedback).
Part 2. Feedback on candidate's response to the mock behavioral interview question Tell me about a time when you mentored someone. The candidate learns to provide necessary background information and a broader sense of the candidate's philosophy of mentoring.

III HBS MBA Interview Questions

It’s important to note that many schools now include questions about diversity, equity, and inclusion in their interviews. It’s crucial to be ready to discuss these topics and articulate how diversity, equity, or inclusion have manifested in your professional experiences. Below are some mock interview sequences specifically tailored for the Harvard MBA program. Analyzing these sequences can provide you with insights into the types of questions commonly posed by Harvard interviewers.

Example 1 Harvard Business School MBA Interview Questions

  1. How do you want to start?
  2. Being a football player in college must have required time management. What was your game plan for managing your time?
  3. (Follow on question) Why did you decide to continue playing football, given the tradeoffs with your social life?
  4. I wasn’t able to find much information online about your current employer. Could you summarize their business for me?
  5. Tell me about your transition between Goldman Sachs and your current employer.
  6. What are some of the trends your watching in the credit card industry?
  7. What has been the biggest difference between working as an investment banker and your current role?
  8. Are there specific examples that highlight those differences?
  9. What do you like to do for fun?
  10. How would you explain an IPO to a high school student?
  11. I know your goal is to join a VC firm post-MBA, but what’s your dream job?
  12. Anything else you would like to add?

Example 2 HBS MBA Interview Questions

  1. Tell me about yourself.
  2. Tell me about specific college activity you were involved in. Are you still involved?
  3. Did you get the offer to join McKinsey because your dad is a partner there?
  4. Who is a business leader you admire and why? (Follow on question) What’s one weakness you need to address in order to be a leader like him/her (the leader cited in first part of question)?
  5. What are your goals further down the road?
  6. What’s an interesting story you’ve read about recently in the news?
  7. (Follow on question) Can you argue for and against (news story that was cited in the previous question).
  8. What role has roller derby played in your life?
  9. Which of the two businesses you founded was your favorite?
  10. Anything else you’d like to share with us?

Example 3 Harvard Business School MBA Interview Questions

  1. Tell me about yourself.
  2. Tell me about the assisted living industry (Follow-up questions included: Who are the best-in-class operators? Describe the assisted living customer. How will the industry evolve over the next 5-10 years?).
  3. Drawing from your experience at PE firm X and consulting firm Y, tell me about your favorite project
  4. Given the amount of deal activity at the moment, what is your prognosis of the future of the PE industry?
  5. Now that you’ve experience both Consulting and PE, do you have a sense for which you prefer/where you’d like to focus in the future?
  6. Recommend something to me.
  7. Tell me about XYZ story from your essay.
  8. Explain the concept of founder equity dilution to me.
  9. What’s the hardest part of your job?
  10. What is some constructive feedback you’ve received recently?
  11. What is some constructive feedback you gave recently?
  12. Is there anything else you wish we’d covered?
  13. How have you had such great experiences while traveling?

Example 4 HBS MBA Interview Questions

  1. Pretend that I haven’t read your application – tell me about yourself.
  2. If you came to HBS, what is one industry or sector you would like to learn more about from your classmates?
  3. Why did you choose to start your career in Peru?
  4. Which industries that are currently doing well in South America?
  5. How is Peru different from Ecuador and other countries in South America?
  6. What would you miss about your current life in Texas if you came to HBS?
  7. I want you to argue for and against employee unions.
  8. What are two things that differentiate you from your peers?
  9. From your resume I can tell that you are interested in renewable energy. What should I know about current trends in energy policy and renewable business initiatives?
  10. What is your short-term career goal? and how will you use an HBS internship to help you advance toward that goal?
  11. (Follow on question) What if that doesn’t work out (internship plans)?
  12. Imagine that we’ve already made you an offer at HBS. Tell me what sort of students you’d like to have sitting next to you in class.
  13. Do you like the outdoors? Why or why not?
  14. What are you reading currently?
  15. Is there anything that I haven’t asked that you wish I had?

Example 5 HBS MBA Interview Questions

  1. Tell me your story, starting with decision to study literature at Stanford.
  2. What did it feel like to not be challenged before transferring schools?
  3. Teach me something you’ve learned since graduating college.
  4. I know you’re interested in entrepreneurship. If you had the funding to start a company right now, what would the company be like?
  5. What are you reading right now?
  6. What is one thing you read online this week?
  7. (Behavioral Question) Tell me about a time when you had to persuade someone at work.
  8. How would your peers/colleagues describe you?
  9. What would they say is one area in which you could improve?
  10. When are you most effective at persuading others – when you’re in a small group or in a large group?
  11. Do you have any questions for me?

Example 6 Harvard Business School MBA Interview Questions

  1. Why study at the University of Wisconsin and why physics?
  2. Was joining Tri Delta sorority a distraction from your studies?
  3. When did you know you wanted to work at Fermilab in Illinois?
  4. Can you explain how the Large Hadron Collider works (in terms that a high school student could understand)?
  5. How did your work help lower the Large Hadron Collider’s annual operating cost?
  6. If we invited your coworkers into the room, what would they say are two of your strengths and two opportunities for improvement?
  7. (Follow up question) Most of your colleagues are scientists. Do you think that a group of business people would highlight different strengths and weaknesses?
  8. Who is a business person you admire who doesn’t have a STEM background?
  9. How do you get your news?
  10. (Follow up question) What’s an interesting article you’ve read recently in The Atlantic?
  11. Can I answer any question you might have about HBS or the admissions process?