Nailing the Virtual HBS Interview

by Personal MBA Coach, Oct 26, 2021

Harvard Business School interview invitations were just released. If you were fortunate enough to be selected, now comes the challenging part: understanding how to prepare for the HBS interview.

The MBA interview is an incredibly important component of the application process, and it is critical that you adequately prepare.

Wondering where to begin? Personal MBA Coach is well versed in the intricacies of the MBA interview process. This year, HBS interviews are again virtual, which means HBS candidates have to consider both how to prepare for the HBS interview AND how to nail a virtual interview. Personal MBA Coach has tips for both!

Should you want additional support, our team of former M7 interviewers conduct mock interviews every year for all of the top business schools. Clients who use our MBA interview preparation services see a 70-85% conversion rate!

What Should You Expect From The HBS Interview?

While many other top programs have “blind” interviews where the interviewer has only your resume, Harvard Business School interviewers read your entire application and come prepared with very specific questions to ask.

HBS interviews can often be 2 on 1, which means you may have two interviewers asking you questions at the same time or more likely one interviewer and one observer. Do not be caught off guard by this and be sure to make eye contact with each interviewer equally.

While always only 30 minutes long, HBS interviews are challenging. In fact, out of all of the top MBA interviews, the HBS interview is one of the hardest.

How Should I Prepare For The HBS Interview?

As with any interview, practice is key! You may wonder what they will ask. It depends on your application and unique situation.

At Personal MBA Coach, our team of admissions directors and interviewers predicts the most likely questions to be asked. In fact, each interview is pretty unique for us, which is a departure from the normal process of asking common interview questions.

This means you will want to know your resume from top to bottom and be ready to clearly explain your goals and why you want an MBA. You also should be prepared to talk about weaknesses in your application and/or any gaps or inconsistencies. For example, if you decided to switch industries mid-career, be sure that you have a logical and well-thought-out explanation.

Everything is fair game!

In Addition To Knowing Your Resume Cold, Prepare Your Stories In Advance.

We find that bulleting is most effective here. This way you can note the skills you want to highlight and will be prepared to pivot your stories as needed.

You should be able to adapt four to five stories to cover most top questions. For instance, a story about stepping up in the office could be applicable to a question about a time you had an innovative idea OR a question about a time you helped a coworker. Try to assign your stories to possible questions in advance.

Avoid spending too much time setting up the scene. Instead, stick to the main steps you took and how you excelled in each example. It can be helpful to break your stories into situations, actions, and results.

You Also Should Ensure You Can Articulate Your MBA Goals.

Be prepared to explain, clearly and concisely, what you hope to accomplish in your career, why you are interested in this path, and how you will be successful. Prepare specific examples that you can use to back up these plans. If you need help articulating your MBA goals, check out Personal MBA Coach’s blog here.

As you share these goals, make sure you are expressing excitement. Since you do not have the full range of bodily nonverbal cues that you would have in person, you want to make sure you are enthusiastic during virtual interviews. See our expert tips, below.

What Is The HBS Post-Interview Reflection And How Should I Approach It?

Unique to HBS, applicants are asked to submit a written reflection, due within 24 of completing your interview. This reflection offers candidates to chance to share how they felt the interview went, discuss what they enjoyed about the experience and provide any additional perspective they wish they had shared at the time.

Be sure to use this opportunity to reflect on the interview itself! Do not consider this an additional essay or the time to discuss new aspects of your profile. Personal MBA Coach recognizes this is a challenging task and offers all HBS comprehensive clients and HBS interview preparation clients individual support on the HBS post-reflection.

What Advice Do You Have For Virtual Interviewing?

To help you prepare for some of the unique challenges of a virtual interview, Personal MBA Coach reached out to former MBA Admissions Interviewers on our team for their top tips!

  • Look into the camera or webcam, which is often placed higher than the normal vision. In addition, practice your set up with a friend or family member in advance of the interview to make sure the equipment is staged properly and functioning. Finally, be careful when using virtual backgrounds. Depending upon the video capabilities of your system, virtual backgrounds can place a strain on the system and make either the person’s head or the background fade in and out.
  • It is crucial to emote a bit more on virtual interviews since you do not have the nonverbal cues you would have in person. Be sure to modulate how quickly you are speaking, pause at the right time, smile and express excitement. While using hand motions can be great, avoid too much movement, which can be even more distracting on virtual interviews
  • Treat a virtual interview the same way you would an in-person interview – dress as you would if you were going in person, have a quiet and clean space with good lighting in which to conduct your interview, and of course, be on time.

As with any interview, practice and planning are key! Personal MBA Coach has former M7 interviewers lined up to do mock interviews with you. Plus, HBS mock interview post-interview reflection support is included with all Personal MBA Coach Comprehensive Packages.

Our clients have told us this is one of the most worthwhile steps they have taken to enhance their candidacy, helping them build the confidence they need to excel in the interview.

When it came time to interview, Scott set me up with his interviewing experts, who thoroughly prepared me for each interview. I ended up getting into every single school that I applied to with many full rides, and am now in the position to choose between Stanford, Harvard, and Wharton. Scott’s expertise, dedication, transparency, and most importantly, patience, allowed for my lofty goals to become a reality. – Harvard Business School Admit

Scott is a great coach. He helps students select the right schools and his interview prep services are fantastic. I felt so comfortable in my interviews thanks to these sessions. – Harvard Business School Admit

I worked with Personal MBA Coach on the interview preparation portion of my application to HBS. I can say honestly that without this interview preparation, I would not have been ready for the depth of questions I was asked in my actual HBS interview. This package was a critical part of my preparation, and allowed me to go into the interview feeling confident and prepared. Scott was always just a quick email away if I needed anything, and his service was a key factor in my preparation that ultimately led to an HBS admission. I would recommend Scott and his team to any of my peers applying to business school. And can truly say it was 100% worth the money. Thank you Scott! – Harvard Business School Admit

Find out more about our Harvard Business School interview preparation and post-reflection support here.

As part of Personal MBA Coach’s HBS interview prep, we will review your entire application before your HBS interview. Then, your HBS interviewer will ask you very thorough questions, focusing on weak areas of your application or topics that are likely to be covered during your HBS interview.

Are you also hoping to secure an interview invite from Wharton? Get a head start by taking a look at Personal MBA Coach’s advice on Wharton’s virtual TBD.

About Personal MBA Coach:

Founded by a Wharton MBA and MIT Sloan graduate who sits on the Association of International Graduate Admissions Consultants Board of Directors, Personal MBA Coach has been guiding clients for 14 years and is consistently ranked #1 or #2 by leading sources including Poets&Quants.

We help clients with all aspects of the MBA application process including early planning, GMAT/GRE/EA tutoring, application strategy, school selection, essay editing, and mock interviews. Our team includes former M7 admissions directors and former M7 admissions interviewers.

Last year, our clients earned more than $6.5M in scholarships!