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Get detailed information on what to do (and NOT to do!) for the HBS MBA application! in our 2022 SnarkStrategies Guide for Harvard!
Harvard 2022 MBA Essay & Recommendations
Class of 2025 HBS MBA Application
HBS Round 1 is in 3 months, 1 week (September 7).
Harvard’s essay is not actually that hard to do well — once you have your key objectives laid out!
Pssst: Our Harvard Essay Guide offers some concrete ideas for what those key objectives might be!
Caution! Warning! Alert! Even though Harvard is the first school with an essay question out already, this does not mean that you should start writing your HBS essay today! The Harvard prompt is one of the hardest of all the schools. You’ll be wise to do one of your other schools as your first project.
Applying to Harvard this year? Here’s the HBS MBA essay question they want you to answer:
“As we review your application, what more would you like us to know as we consider your candidacy for the Harvard Business School MBA Program?”
As of this season, they’ve implemented a length limit of 900 words max. It is TOTALLY possible to do an incredible job of answering this question in 900 words!
EssaySnark has refreshed our MBA Application Guide for Harvard Business School to help you with the nuances, details, and gotchas of handling this question. Here’s a cheat sheet to help you prepare the groundwork for your Harvard app:
What does leadership mean to you?
In what ways can you demonstrate that to the adcom — beyond what’s already captured on the resume itself? The resume and this essay must work together as a unit.
You may also find value in this video:
Our Harvard MBA application guide can help you plan your strategy!
HBS 2022 MBA Application Dates and Deadlines – Class of 2025
- Round 1: Wed., September 7, 2022 This is right after Labor Day here in the United States. Interview invites will likely happen sometime the week of October 3rd (to be confirmed). Applicants not invited will be “released” (that is, if they’re not going to keep you on the further-consideration list; see this post for an explanation of how it’s worked in past years).
- Round 2: Wed., January 4, 2023 — Interview invites will probably come out on a single day: February 1st or thereabouts. Those offered a deferred consideration in Round 1 should also hear something then. If you’re not moving forward at Harvard, they’ll let you know on that day.
And… there is no Round 3 for Harvard! YAY Harvard! The only exception is the 2+2 applicant pool. Everyone else, apply in Round 1!
Yes, we do recommend a Round 1 application to Harvard. Definitely. It’s still possible to get in during Round 2 but you have more competition against you then. Round 1 for Harvard, people. Make it happen.
Got that Harvard essay ready? See if it’s REALLY ready with our Harvard Essay Decimator!
Harvard MBA Recommendations2 Harvard is using semi-standardized recommender questions.
For 2022 the main requirements are:
- Two recommendations
- Two questions for them to answer:
- How do the candidate’s performance, potential, background, or personal qualities compare to those of other well-qualified individuals in similar roles? Please provide specific examples. (300 words)
- Please describe the most important piece of constructive feedback you have given the applicant. Please detail the circumstances and the applicant’s response. (250 words)
We explain the concept of “standardized” recommender questions and offer an important resource for you to give to your recommenders, to make their job easier.
The first issue of course is, who do you choose to write for you? We have a number of posts about recommenders here on the blahg (on the first page of the site, use the dropdown menu in the righthand panel to choose Recommendations to get a list of all of them). If you want more help, our Letters of Recommendation App Accelerator walks through the specifics and lets you submit your recommenders’ strategy for feedback from EssaySnark.
Interview Invitations at HBS
GET READY WITH OUR CUSTOM INTERVIEW PREP QUESTIONS!
The admissions process at HBS (and now many other schools too) generally works like this:
- You submit your app
- The Admissions Board reads all of them, in no particular order – it doesn’t matter what time you submitted or if it went in earlier or later than someone else’s, or what geography or career you’re in.
- Then about a month-ish later, they issue interview invites
The sequence and timing of these interview invites that come out from Harvard Business School has changed from year to year, and sometimes it’s even done differently between Round 1 and Round 2.
These days, all interview invites typically come out on a single day, in one blast.
Also how it’s worked in past years is this: If you applied in Round 1 and didn’t get the interview invitation in early October, then that meant one of two things:
They were either going to hang on to you to think about your application more, called “further consideration” or “FC” which isn’t quite a waitlist but kind of is.
Or they were cutting you loose, aptly named “release.”
We expect 2022 to also work that way, but this has not yet been announced by the Harvard team.
If you apply in Round 2, it’s either an interview invitation, or release, since they don’t have more rounds to consider you in. The FC bucket is a positive because it means that they’re still interested in you, but they want to see how their next round of applicants comes in before they decide whether to move forward with your candidacy or not.
The invitations are issued in batch mode, all at once, at noon Eastern time on the scheduled day. You should receive an email by, say, 12:05pm Eastern time, unless the internet is staffed by slowpokes and there are delays from your mail server. Be sure to check your spam folder too, or you can log onto the HBS application and you should be able to see status there.
SOME DATA (yeah this is super old but it’s been directionally accurate for years)
In 2013, HBS invited 1,887 people to interview across the whole season. That was 20% of the 9,543 applications they received. Generally speaking they have invited more of their applicants in Round 1 – something like 1,000 – yet most schools including Harvard tend to get more applications submitted in Round 2 – so right there tells you that Round 1 can be an advantage.
For Round 1 2015, HBS got enough apps that they decided to issue interviews to ~50 more candidates. Here’s more details on the data as of the 2012-’13 season if you want to see how it broke down in past years. It’s actually still useful to review that info if you want to geek out on these, because Harvard is quite consistent in the numbers and ratios and stuff.
If you’re placed in that pre-interview “Further Consideration” bucket in Round 1, then you’ll either get invited to interview, or released, on the Round 2 interview-invite date.
If you do get interviewed in Round 1, and then in December they put you on the waitlist, you’ll get the final answer (admit or deny) on the Round 2 decision date in the Spring.
Pre-pandemic, getting an interview invite meant you had to travel somewhere to interview with the admissions team, who went to major cities around the world to host these. Obviously everything went to Zoom for the past few years, and it’s likely that Zoom will be maintained as an option again this year. However, it’s also possible that the admissions team will resume travel again, and if so, going to meet them in person would be wise if you can swing it.
Harvard doesn’t tap alumni for interviewing; the admissions folks themselves do it. Therefore, if travel is indeed required, you’ll need to make some arrangements, and yeah it’ll likely require taking some time off of work. But don’t freak out about that part; if you end up getting the invite, you will make it happen, we’re confident. Harvard is always flexible with situations like remotely-deployed military.
So that you can be prepared: here’s an explanation from the ‘snarchive of the HBS Mid-Cycle Decision and the Moods of a BSer.
Harvard’s Post-Interview Reflection
Within 24 hours after your interview, you’ll need to submit something (an essay that’s not an essay but it’s basically an essay – even if the admissions people claim it’s not an essay) that is totally open-ended. This is another way for Harvard to see how you deal with ambiguity. That’s kind of what leaders have to do all the time, right?
The Post Interview Reflection is a chance for you to tell the Harvard Admissions Board that thing that occurred to you, that you realized you should’ve said the moment you walked out of the interview room. Or it’s an opportunity or try to fix your answer to that one question you completely flubbed. Or if you can’t think of anything else, maybe reiterate your application “theme” (though honestly we don’t think that’s such a great idea, that’s just our personal Snark opinion).
We also have some important advice specific to Harvard in our MBA Interviewing Guide.
Also useful for Harvard specifically? EssaySnark’s Custom Interview Questions service.
We’ve got a fast-turnaround Interview Express Essay Decimator too — though we’re betting you can do just fine on your Reflection assignment on your own! It’s an option in case you’re interested in some additional support in that last leg of your process.
HBS Useful Info and some Snark
Direct from Harvard
Snarkety snark snark
- “But EssaySnark. I hear X from other consultants about how to write the essay for Harvard.” (September 2019)
- essay critique! Harvard’s “What else should we know?” essay (August 2019)
- The secret to how to get in to HBS (April 2019)
- No Round 3 at Harvard! (May 2018)
- “Completely lost on HBS essay and need help” (December 2017)
- ($) essay critique: “What more would you like us to know?” – military applicant (August 2017)
- ($) The Harvard secret we didn’t get to yesterday (August 2017)
- ($) How to add greater value at work – plus, Harvard secret (August 2017)
- ($) A BSer wonders about applying to Harvard vs Stanford (July 2016)
- ($) Prediction: Harvard will change its essay this year – and they did! (April 2016)
- The best way to prepare for your Harvard MBA interview (October 2015)
- ($) How everyone is muffing up their Harvard essays this year (August 2015)
- HBS and free essay reviews and why we don’t post sample essays (November 2014)
- Applying to H/S/W? Why “Is my GMAT good enough?” is not the right question (November 2014)
- The major problem with the way HBS manages admissions (October 2014)
- ($) The most important point to remember with your HBS essay (August 2014)
- More recent examples of the Harvard “type” (July 2013)
- And a great place to start when considering the HBS essays: EssaySnark’s post on What is an accomplishment? (September 2010)
and finally, just:
- Harvard. (October 2014)
Many years back, The New York Times ran a pretty important feature on Harvard about gender dynamics. A few days later, a follow-up article was published on class at HBS (not the kind of “class” with teachers). This resulted in lots of media coverage and big conversations across all the business schools. EssaySnark’s reaction is here.
Our Essay Ideas App Accelerator includes a free BONUS: a sample early-draft essay from a former client who ended up getting an admit! With comments from the ‘Snark! Review the original draft and EssaySnark’s complete Essay Decimator critique for an old essay question from Harvard asking about “three accomplishments” – study it for free and make your Harvard essay that much stronger.
And we’ll say it again: Our HBS MBA application guide is very detailed, and it gives you important insights into how the HBS Admissions Board thinks about stuff. Don’t apply to Harvard just because it’s Harvard; you’re likely to end up heartbroken. Read that guide, and study this blahg, and then make an informed decision – and create an infinitely stronger strategy (with a professional’s opinion on your HBS essay, even).