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哈佛商学院面试内幕

John A. Byrne 2013年07月29日

能够走到哈佛商学院面试官的面前可以算是一只脚踏进了哈佛,但也有不少人倒在了哈佛的门槛上。哈佛的面试到底怎么进行?面试官都会问那些问题?怎么回答才会加分?穿什么衣服?住在哪里?这些问题的答案可能都会影响到最终的面试结果。现在,哈佛校报给出了内部的参考答案。

    哈佛商学院(Harvard Business School,简称HBS)的MBA招生面试前整整两周,亚历克斯•克莱纳每天晚上睡觉前都反复琢磨着一份可能被问到的问题清单。周日,和HBS招生官员约好的面试前一天晚上,他从康涅狄格州的父母那里驱车来到波士顿。

    次日早上,那天刚过完感恩节,克莱纳穿上了深蓝色西装、蓝色衬衫、保守的领带以及黑皮鞋。他回忆说:“穿着上没有特别浮华的东西。”接着他到狄伦楼的一个小房间报道,屋内有两位女士坐在他对面。一位负责提问,另一位奋笔疾书,做着记录。

    接下来的30分钟里,所有的问题中只有一个是他完全没有准备的:“你在大学里最自豪的时刻是什么时候?”

    “这个问题让我措手不及,因为在这之前的所有问题我都有所准备,”克莱纳回忆说。

    毕竟,那时距离卡莱纳从耶鲁大学(Yale University)毕业,拿到历史学学士学位,已经有将近4年的时间了。毕业后,他在纽约的美林证券(Merrill Lynch)从事了两年的投资银行业务,然后去旧金山的私募股票公司Vector Capital工作了两年。

    他对HBS的招生人员讲述了当年身为大学冰上曲棍球队的主席和队长的一段经历,那时他帮助组织了一场对阵约翰霍金斯大学(Hopkins University)的比赛,以纪念第一场大学间冰球比赛。

    “转眼间我的面试就结束了,”克莱纳回忆说。“走出去的时候我觉得才过了几秒钟,但我认为我表现不错,很好地表达了我的观点。这实际上挺令人欣慰的。两位面试官都挺友好,善于接受观点,在我们的对话中也很投入。第二位面试官虽然没有说话,但她通过点头以及面部表情向我表示,她在仔细听我的回答。”

    克莱纳很快成为哈佛大学2014届的一名学生。现在,作为MBA校刊The Harbus的主编,他带领一组同学刊登了最新版的《哈佛商学院面试非正式指南》(Unofficial Harvard Business School Interview Guide)。

    最新版的指南在以前的基础上做了本质的修订和更新——篇幅长达68页(去年的版本只有40页),是The Harbus史上出版的最长的面试指南。之前面试中最让克莱纳惊讶的问题,以及怎样回答这个问题的建议,正是指南所刊登的96个问题之一。所有这些问题都是由成功通过HBS招生过程的学生提供的真题。克莱纳还说:“我们在分析中深度剖析招生委员会提出的每个问题的目的。”

    除了这些最常见的以及完全无法预测的问题,这本售价65美元的指南还增加了一个章节,介绍了成功通过面试的HBS申请人给出的最佳面试心得。(这本指南的所有收入用于支持The Harbus的刊发基金。)克莱纳和他的MBA同学还开了一个时间安排章节,敦促申请者至少用两个月时间准备研究生管理专业入学考试(GMAT),三个月时间单独完成HBS申请。

    For two full weeks before his MBA admissions interview at Harvard Business School, Alex Kleiner would mull over a list of potential questions every night before going to bed. He drove up to Boston on a Sunday from his parents home in Connecticut the night before his scheduled session with an HBS admissions official.

    On the Monday morning just after the Thanksgiving Day holiday, Kleiner slipped on a dark navy suit, a blue shirt, conservative tie, and black shoes. "Nothing too flashy," he recalls. And then he reported to a small room at Dillon House where two women sat opposite him. One asked the questions, and one feverishly scribbled notes.

    Over the next 30 minutes, he received only one question for which he wasn't completely ready for: "What was your proudest moment in college?"

    "It caught me off guard because all the questions I had received until then I had prepared for," recalls Kleiner.

    After all, it had been nearly four years since Kleiner graduated from Yale University with an undergraduate degree in history. Since then, he had worked for two years as an investment banker at Merrill Lynch in New York and for two more years in private equity at Vector Capital in San Francisco.

    He told the HBS admissions staffers how, as president and captain of the university's club ice hockey team, he helped to organize a match against Johns Hopkins University to commemorate the first collegiate ice hockey game ever played.

    "It went by in the blink of an eye," recalls Kleiner. "I walked out thinking it had only begun a couple of seconds earlier. But I felt I had done a good job getting my points across. It was actually pretty comforting. Both people were kind and receptive and engaged in our conversation. The second person didn't speak but she would nod and make facial expressions to let me know she was listening to my answers."

    Soon enough, Kleiner would be offered a seat in Harvard's class of 2014. Now, as editor-in-chief of The Harbus, the MBA student newspaper, the 28-year-old has found himself leading a team of students who have just published the latest "Unofficial Harvard Business School Interview Guide."

    The newest edition of the guide has been substantively revised and updated -- and, at 68 pages long, (up from just 40 pages last year) is the largest ever published by The Harbus. The question that surprised Kleiner -- along with advice on how to approach an answer -- is among 96 questions revealed in the guide. All of those questions come from current students who successfully navigated the HBS admissions process. "We try in our analysis to give insight to what the admissions committee is after for each question," adds Kleiner.

    In addition to the questions, which range from the most obvious to the highly unpredictable, the $65 guide contains a new section offering the best general admissions advice from successful HBS applicants. (The money made from the guide goes to support the foundation that publishes The Harbus newspaper). Kleiner and his MBA colleagues, for example, tossed in a section on timing, urging applicants to give themselves at least two months to study for the GMAT and three months to complete the HBS application alone.

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