“So what does this have to do with Harvard?”
That’s how we ended yesterday’s post, which we originally intended as advice for the HBS admissions process. The post ran long, so here’s the Harvard-specific part — however you really need to go back and read How to add greater value at work first.
As we said there, Harvard and other schools want to see impact, and in most cases, “impact” needs to be revealed over time. Please don’t get confused by the post-meeting reflection technique that we’ve suggested you deploy in your day to day work life, as being sufficient to show “impact.” It might let you plant a seed that then blooms into a full impact-tree (aka, a story that works amazingly for your MBA apps because it’s so ripe and juicy of what it shows about your skills, strength, motivation and character). However, the technique alone is not doing it. It’s not going to move the needle to tell HBS in your essay that you do this thing every day after all meetings. That’s nothing. That’s a technique for you to use.
What it can potentially do for you though is make you into an incredibly self-aware person who is always striving for improvement.
And even more directly, it can give you a huge leg up on the task that Harvard will be presenting you with at the very end of your application process.
Even though it seems far far away in some distant and remote land, there’s this thing called The Interview that will happen to some of you, and HBS has a unique requirement called The Post Interview Reflection. What that is, is an opportunity after you sit with your Admissions Board rep in the formal interview, to write up your impressions and send it in as part of your app.
Most applicants do a semi-lame job on this, because they get all twisted up in knots, and they end up sounding fake and posturing and trying to impress their admissions reader one more time in earnestness. Blah.
If you’ve spent the next two months practicing your technique of Post Meeting Reflection then guess what???? You will be able to NAIL your Post Interview Reflection.
You’ll probably do a better job with the interview itself. Because in the moment, while you’re going through your interview, that little brain of yours will be sitting to the side examining you, from a productive place that’s trying to maximize value, to self-reflect as you’re in action. You may not even notice it’s happening (we hope you don’t notice, ‘cuz that would likely be distracting!) but you will have built up this muscle of observation in the moment. You may find yourself getting into an answer to a question when BAM! Something else you could’ve said about a prior topic jumps in — something that had never even occurred to you during all of your prep time in getting ready for this interview.
So you finish the answer you’re giving, and then you say, “If I may, I’d like to also go back to what we were talking about before, because I just remembered something else…” And your interviewer will say, “Sure, I’d love to hear it.” And you get a chance to impress them even more.
Or, you just walk out of the interview, feeling the buzz of having it be over, and you KNOW that you got the next part nailed.
“Post Interview Reflection?” you say to yourself. “Bring it on.”