The following HEC Paris MBA interview report was submitted to Clear Admit by a Round 3 applicant who was admitted. Congratulations to them!
HEC Paris requires 2 separate interviews with Alumni, both of which I did in San Francisco. Their format is that they require interviewees to give a 10 minute presentation, followed by a 30-45 minute chat about their background/qualifications. The interviewees are sent your application beforehand to review.
My first interview went rather well. We met in a bustling cafe and upon arrival she asked me if I’d prefer to do the presentation first, or to chat first. I opted to chat first so I could get a better feel for her personality before launching into a 10 minute monologue.
The fact that it was held in a cafe is a great indicator of how casual/informal this interview was conducted. The formal questions were few and far between, but her main concerned seemed to be more about verifying that I had done my research in learning about the school. She wanted to know which clubs I was interested in joining, what my Concentration would be, and if I was aware that the campus isn’t actually in Paris, stating that a lot of people will make it to the interview and still be unaware of this. We actually ended up talking for about 90 minutes, since the unstructured conversation topics went off on many tangents relating to living abroad, French culture, startups, etc. Finally, as we were sensing that the interview was coming to a close, I did the 10 minute presentation (via a printout of a slideshow I made). This was very easy since it related to my work history, which we had just been discussing anyway. She then gave some constructive feedback on how to improve the presentation.
My second interview was a little bit more formal, though my interviewer dressed in a t-shirt and jeans. We met at his office where he reserved a small conference room for us to do the interview. He preferred that I start the interview with my presentation, and I used my laptop to show the slides. Unlike my first interview, he asked questions at the end of each slide so it was more interactive. Because of this, my timing was a bit off, so about halfway through he insisted I speed it up so we can have enough time for the interview questions. After blazing through the rest of the presentation, we began some very standard interview questions such as “What would your coworkers say is your biggest weakness?” “What attracted you to HEC?” and “What are your post-MBA career goals?” he then gave me 10 minutes to ask him questions, and we discussed the decisions he took to decide on HEC, how it helped him get his current job, if he had advice on how to leverage a non-traditional work experience for post-MBA job hunt, and his experience doing a dual degree with Tufts. Our conversation seemed a lot more rushed than my first interview since we had a clear end-time. We did end up getting kicked out of the conference room, made small talk while he walked me to the elevator to leave the building.
Overall, no real surprises with this. The two different styles of interviews, I think, demonstrates the amount of leeway the HEC adcom gives to their alumni interviewers, and also the stress they put on inter-personal skills to see how applicants can integrate into the alumni community. It turns out I was successful with the interview process — I was accepted a couple weeks later (haven’t heard back yet about financing), and the recruiter specifically mentioned over the phone that the feedback from the interviews was “really great.” I’d recommend to people to prepare a very good presentation, but under-prepare for the interview. They will see your work ethic through the presentation, and your social skills by being able to hold a normal, organic conversation without trying to hit on specific points you force into the conversation.
After your HEC Paris MBA interview, be sure to add your first-hand interview report to the Clear Admit Interview Archive.