Some applicants recently asked me about the “post-interview-reflection” process in the HBS MBA application. Since this is a new process, it may worth sharing my thoughts. As a disclaimer, the following thoughts are my own opinion and not HBS’s.
The post-interview-reflection was introduced in 2012 (for the class of 2015) and requires applicants to write a letter after their interview process (therefore, it’s relevant only to applicants who are invited to the interview process). The admission office is implementing the process this year, as well, saying, “We liked it”.
However, this process may be a little confusing to some applicants since it doesn’t specify the length or format. What we know from the website is:
- It’s not intended to be another formal essay
- You should think of it as an email you might write to a colleague or supervisor after a meeting
- The deadline is within 24 hours of the conclusion of your interview
- They will be relatively generous regarding typos and grammatical errors
- If there is any indication that it was produced BEFORE the interview, it will raise a flag
So, how would you deal with this? What do you write? And why? Here is my opinion.
This is a business school and you are required to write an email to your colleague or supervisor after a meeting. In an actual business situation, after your meeting, why would you do this?
One reason is to confirm what was discussed in the meeting. As you know, a meeting can often result in misunderstanding and ambiguity among the participants. What you wanted to convey might not be understood by the participants as you had intended. The participants might not have clearly understood what you said in the meeting. Time constraints may have made it difficult for you to deliver your full message. In such cases, your email will be effective to supplement the message you wanted to deliver in the meeting.
The other reason is to share the meeting with others who didn’t participate. The participants may need to sum up the discussion and report to their colleagues or supervisors. If they have a concise, clear and comprehensive memo of the meeting, it will be useful to deliver your message to them. In this case, of course, “they” are the other admission officers.
In most cases, it will be the first time you meet with your interviewer. Therefore, the first item should be, of course, a thank you message. But make it concise.
Next should be a summary of your interview. What did you talk about, what did you want to add, and how did you feel when the interviewer asked the question and you answered. I recommend that you make a short caption on each topic to make it easier for the admission officers to skim it.
As a closing, you may address your key messages again. Depending on the Q&A you had in your interview, the content can vary: your aspiration to HBS, your overall impression of the interview, etc. But still, you should try to make it concise. Since it’s similar to a business letter, it should be to the point and straight forward. HBS doesn’t like long, flattering, flowery essays. In my case, I wrote a 2-page, 800 word letter.
Again, this is just my opinion and there is no one right answer. However, you shouldn’t underestimate the importance of this post-interview-reflection process. While they are reducing the number of essay questions, they added this process and decided to continue it this year. It must have significant meaning.