Contact Vince

See for information about Vince's services.

I provide the most intensive, effective MBA interview preparation service in the world. My interview coaching clients get results because I help them figure out what to say (logical content), and how to say it (impressive delivery).

I teach some of the world's top engineers and scientists at The University of Tokyo how to present their ideas on paper and in person.

I am a professional stage actor who has performed with The American Shakespeare Center.
At Stanford, I studied improv theatre with Patricia Ryan Madson, who has taught everyone from college students to Silicon Valley executives from companies like Google how to tell believable stories.

I provide one-hour mock interview sessions with feedback. I also provide extended multi-hour training. We begin with an initial diagnostic mock interview, which helps me determine your strengths and weaknesses. In subsequent sessions, we can work on strategy, answer modeling, and mock interviewing.

For Vince's latest tips, plus service details, please go here. Then, please contact Vince when you are ready to start your preparation.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Harvard Interview

HBS adcoms claim that you cannot prepare for their interviews since the questions are never the same. The fact is, you CAN and SHOULD prepare for your HBS interview, but not in the same way you would prepare for a blind interview like you will experience with Wharton, Stanford, Kellogg, Columbia, Chicago, or Tuck. 
Start by digging into to your application. What will others view as your weak points?
  • As you listen to the question, start asking yourself, "how can I bring this back to my core message / key selling points?"
  • In other words, structure any answer to eventually lead to stories that you know you want to tell from the outset.
  • List the key points you wish to make (key words of your main strengths / selling points, with examples/stories you want to be sure to tell them before the interview is finished).
  • Take a few slow deep breaths before you allow the first question to be asked.
  • Take a second or two to compose yourself and be sure to think before you speak.
  • Take control of the situation.
  • Remember, about 93 percent of your communication in non-verbal so pay close attention to the signals you may be sending through your body language and vocal cues.
  • When responding to the "loaded question," it is best not to rephrase and repeat what you heard. Loaded questions are often confrontational and filled with negative language.
  • The worst thing you can do is get defensive or hostile in your voice or body. In your own words, relate to the issue and be concise. You may want to begin with something like, "I wouldn't describe the situation like that." A statement like this to begin with will also allow you to buy a little time think through your response.
  • The bottom-line: Prepare yourself!
  • In any situation always remember to respond rather than react.
  • Don't let your defenses get the best of you. Remain calm and take some slow deep breaths so you can think before you speak. How you say what you say really does matter.
You are welcome to read the reports below, but PLEASE remember that HBS adcoms will prepare questions JUST FOR YOU based on what you sent them (and what you DID NOT send). 
Onward and upward!


Interview FAQ - MBA - Harvard Business School - Please visit this site for frequently asked questions regarding interviews:
Next, please read my colleague Adam's Excellent post

Harvard / HBS Interview Reports

R1 applicant w/ AdCom in Tokyo 11/21 2009
Date: Sat, Nov 21, 2009
Location: HBS Tokyo Research Center
Interviewer: AdCom
  1.  Tell me about your professional experience
  2.  What did you learn from your experience in previous assignment?
  3.  Who helped you to build network with government?
  4.  Tell me about your recent projects
  5.  What is the difficult part of the project?
  6.  How do your think about your recent projects?
  7.  What is your long term goal?
  8.  Tell me more about the company you’re planning to establish
  9.  How do you think about HBS?
  10.  What are you good about?
  11.  What are you not good about?
  12.  How will you prepare for HBS case study in term of communication?
  13.  How do you think about your quantitative skill?
  14.  If you can visit a place where you’ve never visited, where do you like to go?
  15.  Will your company allow you to go there?
  16.  Is there anything you’d like to add?
  17.  What is you favorite sport?
R1 applicant w/ AdCom in Shanghai 11/24 2009

Date: Sat, Nov 24, 2009
Location: Shanghai
Interviewer: AdCom

The interview was a little bit different from what I expected. Overall, I did not get stuck and I was honest (in a good way) so no matter what the outcome is, I am happy. Thank you for your support.

The interviewer had been with HBS Admissions for more than 12 years and also presented at the Reception. She first told me that the Admissions Board has read the application and has come up with some questions, and to bear with her because she might stop me during my answer or jump to random questions. I do not remember all the questions but I think below covers 70% of them (I especially remember the ones that I didn't expect.

  1. How is your work these days?
  2. What is your leadership like?
  3. As a student coming from Japan, how do you think other HBS students will view Japan and how can you contribute?
  4. Is there anything we have not touched that you need to tell me?
  5. What are your concerns if you were to attend HBS?
  6. What is the most important thing you have learned at your work?
  7. What do you like the most about your job?
  8. Which country, other than the ones you have been to, would you want to go?
  9. If you can do anything tomorrow, what do you want to do? She added that she wants to intentionally keep it broad.
  10. What are you most proud of ? Again, she said that she wants to keep it broad.
Overall, she did not ask for the typical questions on achievement, failure, leadership but it seemed like she was testing my personal side.

I won't hear anything from them until Dec. 15.

R1 applicant w/ AdCom in Shanghai 11/24 2009

Date: Sat, Nov 24, 2009
Location: Shanghai
Interviewer: AdCom

In summary, questions she asked

  1. What has surprised you about your new role?
  2. What has been more straight forward?
  3. So you cover diversity - what is your goal?
  4. Have you ever travelled to any of the regional offices you cover?
  5. Hows work going?
  6. Tell me about your move from (former career function) to (current career function)
  7. Tell me about your goal (as you see it). When do you think you will realize it
  8. Tell me more about the shrinking population in Japan. Why do you think the government restricts immigration? Isn’t it counter-intuitive to what the government should be doing?
  9. Tell me more about your  talent management company. Are there comparable firms in Japan? Are there any firms in Japan that already do this?
  10. What is your strength?
  11. If you were in a room with your new learning group what would you want them to know about you?
  12. Tell me about a misconception someone may have had of you
  13. What would you like your classmates to know about Japan?
  14. How do you think the Japanese view non-Japanese?
  15. If you could visit any city in the world where would it be?
  16. Is there anything else I should know about it?
On the spectrum between Japanese and Western, where do you see yourself?

R2 applicant w/ adcoms in Tokyo 2/27 2009
I just finished HBS R2 interview. The interviewer was adcom. She was very friendly and conversational. However, I sensed some formalness behind the nice smile. I noticed she didn't go into details on why why why, but rather a whole range of different questions. The best thing I can say is to be prepared for the basic interview questions.
  1. Tell me about your past, present, and future.
  2. Do you like your job?
  3. How do you manage a conflict?
  4. Explain your typical day.
  5. Give me 3 traits that your boss would say to describe you.
  6. What would your boss say is your weakness?
  7. Give me 3 traits that your friends would say to describe you.
  8. What motivates you?
  9. What is the biggest risk you have taken?
  10. What do you do in your free time?
  11. Is there a misconception of you from other people?
  12. Surprise me.
  13. Any questions you wish I had asked?
  14. Any questions for me?
R2 applicant w/ adcoms in Tokyo 2/25 2009
  1. Past Experience (Including why I made those choice).
  2. The things you like about your work.
  3. Why you think your company is focus to people rather than organization.
  4. Tell me more about your first task (sales activity).
  5. Tell me about the risk that you currently take.
  6. Describe your typical day.
  7. 5 ways your supervisor describes you.
  8.  What will you do if you have to choose other profession?
  9. The time people misperceived you
  10. The interesting conversation you had within a week.
  11. Please surprise me.
  12. Anything you would like to talk about? (I told her about my goals and also why MBA + HBS).
  13. Questions? (I could only ask one question).
R3 applicant w/ adcoms on campus 4/30 2008
1.      Introduce yourself 
2.      TOEFL
  •  Why did you take TOEFL so many times
  •  In which position is TOEFL test in Japan? 
3.      Music accomplishment essay and follow up questions
  • Why did the conductor choose you as leader?
  • What is the biggest problem to handle the challenge?
  • How did you deal with the relationship with your senior?
  • How did you lead the team to a success? 
4.      Future career goal
  • What do you mean “restructuring”?
  • How do you bring change to Japanese Hospitality industry? 
5.      Anything else to add? 
As shown, it was like Chicago interview I took in that she challenged me to ask many follow-up questions toward a single question. It was far from typical application interviews. She seemed to want to challenge me throwing some conversations, without asking some typical why MBA or leadership experience. 

R2 applicant w/ adcoms in Tokyo 2/27 2007
I had the interview with HBS admissions on Monday. Thanks to you, I think it went well. The female interviewer was kind and the interview went in a relaxed way.
  1. Why are you interested in chemistry and why did you change your  career to  McKinsey?
  2. What are good/bad things with your work in XXXX? - How do you see your colleagues?
  3. How do you interact with people you do not like? - Are there any areas that you would like to be asked by admissions? - Who do you respect and why? - Are you prepared for the interview?  How did you prepare? - Why do you need MBA? - What do you think are the challenges for you in HBS?
  4. Many people says that they worry about case studies. How about you?
  5. Any questions?
R2 applicant w/ adcoms in Tokyo 2/27 2007
  1. Career path
  2. What do you like most in your work?
  3. Respect leader and why?
  4. What aspects did the leader need to improve?
  5. Your leadership style
  6. The difference of your reputation between before and after somebody knew you
  7. Bottleneck at HBS
  8. Are there any matters we should discuss?
  9. Any questions?

R3 applicant w/ adcoms on campus 3/2 2007
I had a interview with an AdCom member of HBS on Monday. The lady was very friendly and very nice, so I could relax and be myself. 
  1. Please introduce yourself.
  2. Who do you admire the most as a leader and why?
  3. What makes a good leader?
  4. Tell me about your leadership experience?
  5. What is your career vision?
  6. Why MBA?
  7. Why now?
  8. Do you have any worry to participate in case study discussions?
  9. What do you want me to know about you?
  10. What didn't we talk about during the interview?
R2 applicant w/ adcoms in Tokyo 2/27 2007
  1. Walk through professional career
  2. What is your typical day?
  3. Future goals
  4. Why you need MBA?
  5. What would be the most challenging thing to achieve your goals?
  6. Tell me about your leadership
  7. Show me example when you grew a subordinate effectively.
  8. Tell me a time when you handle difficult subordinate.
  9. How did he respond when you change your management style from delegating to coaching?
  10. Why HBS?
  11. What is your uniqueness?
  12. What will be your most challenging thing in HBS?
  13. What would be your most difficult thing in the case studies?
  14. What is the gap which your friends feel between your first impression and after they know you well?
  15. What is the motivation for your dream?
  16. How did you prepare for the interview?
  17. Is there anything you want me to ask you?
  18. Any Question?

I do not remember the exact order but she asked various questions and the 30 minutes passed so quickly.

R2 applicant w/ adcoms in Tokyo 2/26 2007
1. Short conversation (including explanation about interview process)
2. Q and A session  
・brief introduction (tell me about yourself, what kind of person you are~)  
→Why did you choose your present job?  
→What is the toughest part of your job?  
・Why would you like to go to business school?  
→ How would you like to change hospitals?  
・Why HBS?  
・What do you think about leadership?  
→ Tell me about your leadership experience  
・Is there anything you wish I would ask you in this interview?  
・How did you prepare for this interview?  
3. If you have any questions, please ask ~ 
Almost half of the interview time was spent in “Why B-school ~ Why HBS” part. 

Frequency Analysis of Harvard Business School Interview Questions

Based on a sampling of interviews conducted with Japan-based applicants since 2000










Tell me briefly about your career to date.




Tell ma about your future career goal.



What motivates you?




Why do you need MBA?



Why HBS?




Why did you choose your present job?  



Tell me more about your first task.



What are your job responsibilities?



Explain your typical day.



What are good things with your work in XXXX?



Do you have any problems with your present job?



What changes would you make to your organization and why?



How do you manage a conflict?



Tell me about your recent project.



What is the difficult point in that project?



Why do you think you were chosen as a corporate-sponsored MBA candidate?




How did you lead a team to a success?  



Tell me about your leadership style.



How would people describe your leadership style?



Tell me about a leader you respect and why?



Take me through your leadership resume.




Give me 3 traits that your boss would say to describe you as.



Show me example when you grew a subordinate effectively.



How do you interact with people you do not like?



How did you cope with that situation?



Is there a misperception of you from other people?



The difference of your reputation between before and after somebody knew you.




Tell me about a failure and what you learned from it.



What is the biggest risk you have taken?



How did you become interested in… (from resume)?



What did you do most earnestly at college?



Life in HBS

Many people says that they worry about case studies. How about you?



What do you think are the challenges for you in HBS?



What contributions will you make to HBS, your classmates?  



Who would you like to sit next to during class?




How did you feel about your application process?



What was the most difficult aspect about the application process?



How did you prepare for the interview?



Why did you pick your recommenders?



Did you apply to any other school?




If you were to write a book 20 years from now, what will you write about?



How would you like to be remembered?



Finishing Q's

Any questions you wish I had asked? (what do you want to tell the interviewer that you have not already mentioned?)



Surprise me (a different variation on "any questions you wish I had asked you" in other words, your chance to tell something new about yourself that you hope will leave a strong final impression)



Any questions for me? (your chance to ask the interviewer some questions)


Need more reports? Here are some reliable sources

Clear Admit wiki:

Accepted's Searchable database:
Also check here:
and be sure to read
How NOT To Blow Your Harvard Interview | Poets and Quants

-Updated by Vince on 14 March 2012

  • I am a graduate admissions consultant who works with clients worldwide
  • If you want my help preparing for your interview, please email
  • Let me know when you plan to interview and when you want to practice with me
  • I will confirm if I have the capacity to help you
  • My interview service details and fees are here
  • Please note that initial consultations are not offered for interview training