Harvard Post-Interview Feedback - Don't Pre-Write it!

Q) The NEW Harvard MBA Application Essay requires the candidate to submit an essay, 24 hours after the Interview. Is it possible for a candidate to plan for this essay?

Alex Chu (MBA Apply): Many people will fall into this trap of trying to pre-write the essay.


That's why they are asking this essay in the first place. They want to know how you follow up based on what happened in the interview. Adcoms can sense quickly if something is pre-written: it's either too vague and generic, or it's covering material in such a decorated and stage managed way that it's obvious someone spent way too much time trying to manicure every single sentence and to contrive an example that had nothing to do with what happened in the interview.

A strong post-interview essay is one that directly responds to or is a follow up to what was discussed in the interview. And you have no real way of figuring out what that will be. Sure, you can do interview coaching (and you probably should - if not with a consultant, at least practice mock interviews with colleagues and friends), some folks may tell others what their HBS adcoms had asked  them and so forth. But it's not about that. It's about the nature of the discussion and what you actually said in the interview - and more importantly, how the adcom responded to some of the moments in the interview as you were talking about yourself.

There is no way of predicting how an individual will respond to you, or to even know in advance beyond just a vague idea of how the actual moment-to-moment experience will be like in that interview room.

Finally, too many people are stressing out about this post-interview essay. The thing is, it is not going to really matter for 99.9% of the folks who actually are interviewed. The decision is made based on the interview itself - no "mini essay" afterwards is really going to change their mind if they already liked you, or they thought you were a tool. It's something they instituted this year - and it's an experiment. If it doesn't really impact their decision making, it will be gone (or significantly changed) next year. Again, this year is an experimental year for HBS - they are trying to change the format in which they assess people, and so they are keeping an open mind about the process. Having said that, in my opinion I think the importance that many applicants seem to put on this post-interview essay is overblown.

In short, what HBS is saying this year is that the two biggest things that matter are your resume and your interview performance? The essays and rec letters are minor and likely won't be a huge factor for most applicants. In other words, HBS adcoms believe that for many applicants, they can pretty much figure out whom they want to interview based on the resume alone (and the essays won't matter much unless they really suck). And that for most of the people that get invited for an interview - they can figure out based on the interview performance alone whom they want to admit.

About Expert Author

MBA Apply (www.mbaapply.com) is a personalized, no-nonsense admissions consulting service designed to help you get into the world's top business schools.

Putting together compelling, cohesive and inspired applications is essential if you need to distinguish yourself from a sea of other highly accomplished professionals applying to business school.

Contact alex@mbaapply.com and have MBA Apply coach you through this process.

Getting into Harvard MBA is Not Like Catching a Shooting Star

Most applicants have this strange notion that you cannot get into Harvard MBA program without climbing Mount Everest, or leading a start-up to an IPO. 

Trust us, we evaluated a few Harvard MBA Admits. They are like you, but with one difference.

They are Masters at Personal Branding.

We will teach you:

1) How you should start the essay knowing that extroversion and passion are valued in Harvard MBA?

2) How you should demonstrate Active Learning?

3) How you should demonstrate confidence in decision-making?

4) How you should demonstrate your succinct communication skills?

5) How you should demonstrate your potential as an effective FIELD team member?

Also Included in the Essay Guide:

1) Six positioning tips that you should consider for your essay.

2) Two Sample Essays

Download F1GMAT's Harvard MBA Essay Guide 2016-17

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