This is the second post in our series, What HBS is Looking For.
So, HBS wants “analytical aptitude and appetite.” Hardly a surprise. You might be tempted to just skim that section of the website message.
Maybe it’s not as obvious as it sounds. Let’s break it down.
Analytical: This word encompasses a range of things – quantitative methods, various tools and processes such as decision trees and FMEA, mental and intellectual objectivity, an exacting attitude. Parsing the relationship between a whole and its parts. Pursuing root causes.
Aptitude: Ability, innate and/or learned.
Appetite: This is the really interesting word, because it’s open to interpretation. We can read it as meaning to enjoy, to savor, to be open to, to relish, to hunger for, to have capacity for. Here are some of its practical implications and nuances (in question form):
• Do you use objective analysis in understanding past events, planning future actions and strategies, and making decisions?
• Do you respect results and outcomes determined by objective analysis even when they don’t jive with your preconceptions, ideologies, or preferences?
• Does your analytic mindset allow you to be comfortable with – even relish – ambiguity and uncertainty?
• Do you help your teammates understand and use analytic approaches and thinking?
• Do you use language effectively as an analytic tool, e.g., when the team is facing a muddle, are you the one who can verbally separate the threads, clarify them, and guide the team to understand their relative weight and importance?
As the HBS website indicates, for HBS, analytical aptitude is not a solitary feast (regardless of how hearty the analytic appetite). You’ve got to bring your analytical chops to the table, i.e., to classroom debates and case studies, projects, etc. Therefore, to use a music analogy, you must be able not only to read and play the analytic score – but also to improvise, on the spot and with other virtuosos.
The adcom will grasp your analytic aptitude from your transcript(s), test score(s), and resume. But if you feel these elements don’t adequately show this dimension, use other parts of the application (essay, short answers, additional info, recommendations) to amplify it.
As for showing analytical appetite:
• Your resume may reflect this quality, depending on your work.
• Invite your recommenders to discuss this quality and to provide examples.
• In your essay, use a story or two that demonstrates analytical appetite.
And be assured, it won’t hurt to let other programs you apply to appreciate your analytic aptitude and appetite!
Cindy Tokumitsu has advised hundreds of successful applicants, helping them gain acceptance to top MBA and EMBA programs in her 15+ years with Accepted. She would love to help you too. Want Cindy to help you get Accepted? Click here to get in touch!
Work with an experienced admissions consultant who will guide you as you mine your experiences and then craft an application that demonstrates the analytical aptitude and appetite that HBS is seeking.