Today the deans in Dillon House (see left) release interview decisions for the last batch of Round 2 applicants at HBS. Some will be among the lucky few to score one of the few remaining interview invitations with the admissions committee (in which case, talk to us about how to prepare!). The rest will get the "ding", or in HBS parlance, "be released from consideration so you can move ahead with your other applications."
Getting the ding can be a real bummer. You might think, was my application really not good enough to make it to the interview phase? What would have happened had the Adcom actually met me? What does this mean for my other applications? Does this mean that I don't have a chance if I reapply next year?
You shouldn't give in to such negative feelings. In reality, schools like HBS are super receptive to re-applicants; the key is that you need to dispassionately evaluate what exactly went wrong in your application and -- most importantly -- use that information to put forth an even more kick-ass application in the future! That's our objective when we run our Ding Reports on clients. Below are some of the most common areas of improvement that we find:
Unimportant narrative - HBS wants students who are going to change the world, not just change their job. Ask yourself this: would the Adcom feel that they are making the world a better place when they admit me? If not, then you have failed in this dimension.
Not credible in mission - Maybe you have a good mission in life; the challenge is why should I believe that you are the MBA who is going to accomplish it? As important as it is to pick a good mission, you also have to choose where to place the goal posts. A mission that is too broad or not aligned with your previous work experience may appear too unrealistic to be credible.
No cohesion in life story - No one likes a flip-flopper. Sure your career can take twists and turns, but can you argue that everything is all a part of a singular overarching mission? We can, and you should.
Not aware of / not addressing weaknesses - Everyone has weaknesses. Good leaders show self-awareness about their weaknesses and consciously work to improve them. If you don't, you might not fit in with the continuous self-improvement mindset of HBS.
Never answered "why HBS?" - MBA applications should be like love letters - they need to be personalized. No other school should be able to read it and fall in love with you. HBS wants high commitment individuals that will thrive in its on-campus, case-discussion dominated environment. To get in, you really need to show the Adcom what you are going to do with that spot that you can't do at another business school.
The wrong recommenders - Business schools prioritize work experience above all else, and the single biggest champion for your work experience is your recommender. The challenge is that if you pick someone who is too far in your past, or too senior to have directly observed your working behaviors, the vivid recommendation you need will come out blurry.
Aiming at the wrong tier of business school - If your GPA and GMAT are not in the ballpark, you might not have a chance no matter how good of an application you have. Reach out to us here and we'll help you determine your odds and which schools you should be targeting.