How to Write a Powerful HBS Post-Interview Reflection

An HBS admit outlines her top tips for writing a compelling post-interview reflection that makes your application stand out.

Siri G.

By Siri G.

Posted February 2, 2024

Free Event

Financing Your MBA

Tuesday, March 19

10:00 PM UTC · 60 minutes

undefined's profile

Featuring John K.

POV: You just finished your HBS interview and now have 24 hours to submit a reflection essay.

First, if you made it to the interview stage in your HBS application process—congrats! You’re almost there. Here are some tips that helped me approach the post-interview reflection essay.

Tip #1: Brain Dump

Keep a few sheets of clean paper with you when you head to your interview. As soon as you leave the room or end the call, take 15 to 20 minutes to jot down any thoughts and initial reactions you can recall from the interview. HBS does not allow applicants to record their interviews, and you don’t want to forget any critical details. Brain dumping ensures that you capture as much as possible from the experience.

Some prompts to consider include:

  • What comments did your interviewer(s) make about your application?
  • What resume experiences did they address?
  • What questions did they ask, and what were your responses?
  • What are your initial reactions?
  • Do you think you answered each question fully?
  • What key moments do you keep replaying in your head?
  • Are there any questions you wish they asked?
  • Above all else, do you feel like you left it all out there?

Tip #2: Recharge

After you’ve captured initial notes, it’s important to get some space. This allows you to process what happened and truly reflect on the experience. Eat a snack, call your mom, touch grass—do whatever it takes for you to release any remaining nerves and reset your focus for the day.

I’m a verbal processor, so I find that talking it out helps me pick up on moments I may have missed initially. This is where a coach helps immensely. Your coach knows your application inside out—they can be a sounding board for any key experiences you want to cover in your reflection that you haven’t had a chance to explain in your interview.

Tip #3: Get to Work

Make your way back an hour or two later and draft an outline, pulling details from your brain dump to address in your essay.

While the structure and format of your reflection can vary depending on your interview and overall candidacy, consider identifying two or three experiences that you want to revisit, emphasize, or expand on in your essay. Your reflection should be additive; avoid bringing up new or unrelated topics. Also, it’s not advised to go back on anything you said in the interview. Instead, consider what you wish you could add if you had more time.

Remember to be as specific as possible in your reflections. Don’t draft your essay before your interview. In fact, you should make clear connections to the exact conversations you’ve had with your interviewer. Where possible, make it personal so it feels truly reflective of that moment in time.

A powerful way to conclude your reflection is to tie your thoughts back to HBS and emphasize your commitment to the program. This will look different for everyone, but anchoring your reflection on themes you highlighted in your application builds a cohesive case to admissions on why they should admit you.

Tip #4: Don’t get sloppy

I highly recommend you build a solid draft of your essay before going to bed for the day. Then, in the morning, you can come back with fresh ideas on how to elevate your reflection and polish your writing. Swap any bland wording with expressive verbiage to make your message more powerful.

The admissions committee recognizes this essay was drafted in 24 hours and therefore may not be as polished as your other essays. At the same time, this is your last opportunity to bring it home—HBS is giving you the final word, make it count.

These are just a few tips for HBS applicants out there crafting their post-interview reflection. If you want more guidance or need a coach on deck, schedule a free intro call with me.

Browse hundreds of expert coaches

Leland coaches have helped thousands of people achieve their goals. A dedicated mentor can make all the difference.

Browse Related Articles