This post was written in 2015 so the actual interview invite dates are not accurate for any future year, but the process described herein has been consistent for many seasons now.
TBD if it'll hold for the current year! Update: As of the 2019 Round 1 cycle, HBS has gone down to a single interview-invite day per round.
We just updated our interviewing section of our Harvard MBA application page with this but we wanted to post about it separately to a) call your attention to it, b) help you not totally stress out for a 10-day period starting on October 6 (yeah, not stressing is not real likely); c) inject some reality into the process.
First of all, we have to caution everybody that the Round 1 Harvard application process can really screw you up. If you haven’t read that post before, and you’ve submitted to HBS, we strongly recommend you stop and do so. You need to be prepared.
Harvard has again this year tweaked their already-mostly-positive process for issuing MBA interview invitations: They’re going to send them out on three specific days (down from two days last year) but those three days are spread out over a week (in past years it was two full weeks). Thus, you will likely have your heart in your throat repeatedly, but over a shorter period of time. More days of stress but for fewer days total. OK, that’s a worthwhile tradeoff. At least it gives you a lot to look forward to!
Dee Leopold this week finally explained the purpose of spreading the invitations out: She says that it’s to prevent logjams on their interview scheduling system since it’s a huge number of BSers trying to get their interview appointments set up all at once. HBS typically invites somewhere around 1,000 applicants to interview in Round 1 – and they always can accommodate all of them in their various cities spread out around the world, don’t worry about not being able to set something up if you’re a lucky one with a golden ticket. They’ll make it work for you, don’t worry. You do need to be prepared to travel, since these are adcom-interviews conducted in hub cities around the world. They won’t be flying to your doorstep to meet you. You’ll need to make some arrangements, and yeah it’ll likely require taking some time off of work for most people. But don’t freak out about that part; if you end up getting the invite, you will make it happen, we’re confident (and Harvard is flexible with extreme situations like deployed military).
So here’s what you can expect:
- Tuesday, October 6th at noon Eastern time: First Wave Interview Invites via email (go here to convert to your local time ):
- Boston (U.S.A. – Massachusetts) Tuesday, October 6, 2015 at 12:05:00 PM EDT UTC-4 hours
- San Francisco (U.S.A. – California) Tuesday, October 6, 2015 at 9:05:00 AM PDT UTC-7 hours
- Delhi (India – Delhi) Tuesday, October 6, 2015 at 9:35:00 PM IST UTC+5:30 hours
- Paris (France) Tuesday, October 6, 2015 at 6:05:00 PM CEST UTC+2 hours
- Moscow (Russia) Tuesday, October 6, 2015 at 7:05:00 PM MSK UTC+3 hours
- Buenos Aires (Argentina) Tuesday, October 6, 2015 at 1:05:00 PM ART UTC-3 hours
- UTC (GMT) Tuesday, October 6, 2015 at 16:05:00
If you don’t get an email by 12:05pm or so, then it ain’t coming today.
The exception is 2+2 applicants who will only be invited on the last day.As of 2016, 2+2 apps are now only accepted in Round 3.
- Thursday, October 8th at noon Eastern time: Second Wave Invites
Same as above. If you don’t get an email on this second day, then it’s not so likely you’ll get one next week, either. 🙁
- Wednesday, October 14th at noon Eastern time: Final Wave Interview Invites/’Further Consideration’ Invites/Release
All 2+2 applicants will be invited in this third wave if at all; everyone else either gets: that long-coveted invite, or an invitation for “Further Consideration” which is a holding bin they place you on that’s like Columbia’s “deferred” status for their Early Decision candidates – kind of a waitlist, but not really, since you haven’t even been interviewed yet (see our HBS guide for more on this); or “released” which sounds like you’re a fish that they caught and threw back because you’re too small. 🙁 🙁 🙁
You’ll basically get no work done at all on those days. At least if you’re based on the West Coast of the U.S. you don’t have long to wait; you’ll wake up, get your coffee, get your butt to work and then hope you don’t have a 9am meeting scheduled since you’ll be so completely distracted that you’ll be useless. But at least you’ll have the full day ahead of you to (possibly) regain some productivity (maybe less possibly if you do in fact score the invite since you’ll be so gosh darned excited; more possibly if it’s just some disappointment to get over).
Then two days later, you’ll do it all again. And then once more the following week.
We hate to be so blunt but most people reading this will have two days of high expectations and a letdown, and then one day where the depressing news fully sinks in. It’s just how things work at Harvard. Yeah, a rollercoaster. If we have personally told you that we think you have a chance at HBS (through one of our Essay Decimator critiques or the Sanity Check especially), then obviously we do think you will. But the sad fact is that there’s lots of blahg lurkers who, while they may be exceptionally qualified for a top business school, may have underestimated the difficulty that is Harvard. It probably doesn’t help to be rattling our doom-and-gloom drum this much, since those who get unrealistically optimistic won’t be swayed by a silly ol’ Snark trying to warn them, but we feel it’s our duty to remind you. This is Harvard.
Also, there is NO logic or intelligence to be gleaned from trying to compare profiles or circumstances of those who receive an invite on the first day versus the second. It has nothing to do with when you submitted your app or your geography or your career. It does NOT work that way. You can spin your head trying to ferret out a reason why you did not get an invite when you thought you should have, but you’re just wasting time if you do.
Again, you can read up on more of these details elsewhere throughout the blahg (the HBS info page being a great place to start).
Our best advice for what to do starting on, say, October 5th?
GET A HOBBY.