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How To Write the HBS Post-Interview Reflection

This year, Harvard Business School is requiring MBA applicants to complete a Post-Interview Reflection within 24 hours of their MBA admissions interview. The school has given very little guidance on formatting or content, saying only that the HBS post-interview reflection is intended to be informal, more like an email than an essay.

For some MBA applicants, this lack of constraint can be freeing. For others, it can cause considerable anxiety, especially in the immediate aftermath of an already stressful interview. To minimize that anxiety, I want to give you a few points to consider as you think about your HBS post-interview reflection.

Wait until after the interview to write the reflection.
HBS is asking you to reflect on what happened in the interview, so please do not write your reflection before your interview has even taken place. It will sound canned, and will fall flat. Instead, as you prepare for your interview, make note of the strengths and themes that you might want to emphasize in your HBS post-interview reflection. Then, after your interview, you can weave these strengths into your response.
hbs post-interview reflection
Take notes after the interview, but don’t immediately write your reflection.

Most applicants, immediately after their MBA interviews, still have a lot of adrenaline coursing through their veins and might have a skewed perspective on how well or badly they did. That is not a good mindset for reflection. Jot down notes about your conversation directly after the interview, and then take at least a few hours to settle down before writing your reflection. Take a walk, go get a coffee, talk to a friend. Then, you can sit down and approach the post-interview reflection with a more levelheaded perspective.

Genuinely reflect.

State what went well in your interview, with specific references to conversation points that you enjoyed or found very helpful. Then, reflect on anything that you felt could have gone better- topics that you wanted to discuss, or areas where you might not have fully made your point. Keep these reflections candid but positive. Where relevant, discuss any follow-up actions that your conversation inspired. Other possible topics include:

  • Similarities between you and your interviewer that sparked discussion
  • New HBS resources that you learned about
  • Discussion about how your interests could be applied at HBS
  • How your interviewer addressed your concerns

Re-emphasize your strengths and personal brand themes.
This is your chance to give the final word on your candidacy. As you reflect on the interview, make sure that you are emphasizing your personal brand themes and re-focusing on your strengths.

Reiterate your interest in HBS.

As you conclude your reflection, state your continued interest in HBS, along with specifics about why it is a good fit for your goals and personality. Let admissions board members know that you enjoyed the interview and want to be a part of their program.

Keep the formatting concise and simple.

Though no board member word count is given, HBS has said that the post-interview reflection should resemble an email that you would send after a meeting. The best emails are concise and to the point, and communicate a lot in a few words. Your post-interview reflection should do the same. State your points simply and clearly, and don’t waste words. When formatting your text, remember that multiple short paragraphs are easier to read than one long block of text.

Proofread

Finally, please make sure that you proofread your HBS post-interview reflection before sending it in. I know that HBS has said they will be more lenient with typos in this case, but it is always more impressive to turn in a clean, error-free document. Take the time to read over your words and check for spelling and grammar errors. If you have time, wait a few hours between drafting your response and re-reading it. It is always helpful to approach something with fresh eyes- you are much more likely to spot gaps and errors.

Keep these guidelines in mind as you head into your HBS interviews, and whip them out when it is time to tackle that post-interview reflection. If you have further questions, head on over to our Facebook page to post your question and join the discussion.

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Chioma Isiadinso

Chioma is a former Harvard Business School admissions officer and the CEO and Co-Founder of EXPARTUS, the first MBA admissions consulting company to use personal branding as a key part of the b-school application process. Chioma is the author of The Best Business Schools' Admissions Secrets, one of the leading books on how to successfully navigate the MBA admissions process.

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