My HBS Interview: An Equity Trader’s Tale

It feels just like yesterday. At exactly 11:30 AM in the morning I got my email. I was refreshing my Gmail from 11:25 AM expecting the decision on my HBS round 2 app. And today here I was, about to meet HBS Adcom for my interview.

My background: Got a Computer Science bachelor’s from a less known US school, worked pretty hard and landed a monkey position (analyst) at Wall Street. Steadily grew up the ranks and became good enough to land an interview at HBS after 2 years of grunt work + 2 years of getting grunt work done. Into sports, played for state teams. 750 GMAT and a 3.8 GPA, stellar recommendations from my MD, a VP and a veteran who coached me when I played for the state team (In my year we needed to submit 3 HBS recommendations).

Before the Interview: The moment I got my interview invite, I spent quite a lot of time scouring online for interview questions and candidate experiences like everybody else. There wasn’t much information though. I must admit the one creepy/obsessive thing that I did was to search for adcom members profiles to see where they came from. I got myself a bunch of interview questions and tried them to see how best I answered them. Apart from this, I also did the routine prep – going over your resume and app several times, so that my adcom interview and app perception are consistent.

Toughest HBS Interview Questions

Interview Questions Without further ado, I’ll cut to the chase, these are the interview questions I particularly remember apart from the usual goals and resume questions, either because (I think) I answered them too well, or too badly (as you read these questions, keep my background in mind):

  • I see that you are a distinguished athlete as well as an established trader. There are several lessons which each of these life experiences would have thought you. Were there any conflicting lessons from an ethical perspective, and if any, how did you reconcile these differences?
  • What is the most interesting conversation you’ve had with your coach (the veteran recommender) and why?
  • On whom have you had the most profound impact so far in your opinion, and why will this person remember you?
  • What is the best use for money that you have now – other than investing in getting yourself an MBA, and why have you chosen getting an MBA over this investment?
  • If you never hear back from us after this interview, what is your most important takeaway from the application process?

These are the toughest HBS interview questions I faced that day. There was a lump in my throat as I answered the last question that day. I thought this was a clear indication of how things would unroll. I felt worn out after my HBS interview that day, and was convinced that this was just not going to be my day. My only hope then, I though to myself was to convert my Stanford GSB interview.

I was however pleasantly surprised when I got a call from Harvard Business School almost a month later congratulating me on my success.

Author: Homer

Homer has an MBA from a top-three US B-School. An Indian engineering graduate from a non-IIT (IITs are Indian equivalents of our tech schools such as Caltech and MIT), Homer is hope for all non-IITians looking to get into Harvard/Wharton/Stan. Homer has a BE degree in mechanical engineering from a college in the south Indian city of Bangalore. Homer says that he was never a great student in his earlier days or at engineering school. What then worked in his favor? Well he founded a mechanical engineering startup after working for a couple of years at a renowned German automobile company. Homer has the longest pre-MBA work experience in our family - 4 yrs at his first job in a no-name mechanical engineering firm + 2 yrs at the German automobile maker + 3 yrs at his startup. Homer sold his startup back to his former employer and is now a top consultant (MBB consulting). Watch out for posts by Homer (to avoid them, of course!).

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