HBS Admissions Director Chad Losee Dishes on the MBA Interview, Essays, Financial Aid, and More
Are you anxiously awaiting an interview for Harvard Business School (HBS)? I’m going to let you in on a secret. Chad Losee—who leads admissions for HBS and conducts a portion of the interviews with applicants himself—is nervous, too. For real. He told me as much in our latest Clear Admit MBA Admissions Podcast.
Losee, for those who haven’t been following MBA admissions or HBS for long, is a bit of a special case. Not only does he now lead admissions for one of the most selective business schools in the world, he was a student at that school himself a mere five years ago.
In other words, he brings fresh, first-hand knowledge of the high-stakes HBS admissions process from his current perch as gatekeeper—but everything he does is informed by having been in applicants’ shoes not very long ago at all. His genuine empathy for the anxiety applicants face jumped out at me when we spoke. I wager you’ll hear it, too, when you listen in.
In fact, Losee and his team devoted a day-long training session last week to making sure they are at their best as they begin to conduct the first MBA interviews of this admissions season. “We think of it in some ways as preparing for a mini case discussion,” Losee says, referring to the case method of teaching pioneered by HBS. “That’s not meant to intimidate applicants,” he stresses. “But as interviewers we do our homework by rereading the full application, essays, recommendations, their work history,” he says.
What he means is that HBS interviewers—comprised of a team of 20 to 25 highly trained members of the admissions board—take their part in this process extremely seriously. They put in the time and effort to ensure that they make the most of the limited window they get to spend meeting with candidates one on one.
“This might be hard to believe, but we get nervous for the interviews, too,” Losee swears. “If you are feeling nervous, just know the feeling is mutual. I find that most of the nerves get worked out in the first few minutes…on both sides,” he says.
With interviews top of mind for many applicants right now, Losee and I did spend a fair amount of time discussing that aspect of the HBS application specifically. But ours was a wide-ranging conversation that also touched on every other part of the HBS admissions process.
He talked about the school’s decision to shift to just two rounds. “I think that means the process will be better for applicants,” he said. It gives more time for admitted students to do everything they need to do to be prepared to move to campus, obtain visas (in the case of international students), and start school in the fall. Just having two rounds also means his team will have more spots available in Round 2 than it has in the past.
He also talked about shifts beyond the admissions process, including a brand-new facility that just opened, in which he recorded our podcast. It’s called Klarman Hall and was made possible thanks to a generous gift from alumnus Seth Klarman (MBA ‘82), CEO of Boston-based investment management firm The Baupost Group.
Losee also noted that HBS this year welcomed its inaugural cohort of MS/MBA students, part of a new joint degree program with the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. Because these students are integrated into the entire HBS community, they are injecting new viewpoints and perspectives into every HBS classroom.
Not only that, Losee helped demystify financial aid at HBS. And if you don’t know this already, HBS takes a different approach to financial aid than many of its peer schools. In my opinion, it’s worth listening to the podcast if the only thing you take away are these details about financial aid.
Indeed, wherever you are in your own process of applying to business school, there’s something in this episode for you. Have a listen now. A hearty thanks to Losee for spending so much time, especially as interviews loom, sharing directly with the Clear Admit audience.
This podcast episode is sponsored by Georgetown McDonough School of Business.
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A few show notes, providing details on topics mentioned during the conversation with Losee:
- For more on Losee’s application tips blog series, click here.
- For more on the new HBS MS/MBA joint degree program with the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, click here.
- For the Class Day speech given by HBS alumnus Casey Gerald (MBA ’14), click here.
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