HEC Paris MBA Interview

Once the candidate gets pre-selected, he/she will have two separate one-on-one interviews with HEC Paris MBA alumni. It is the candidate’s responsibility to contact the interviewers provided by the Admissions Office in order to arrange their interview by the stated deadline. hec-paris-mba-interview

Each interview will consist of a 10-minute powerpoint presentation on a topic of the candidate’s choice (you need to be very sure that the topic makes absolute sense to you and why you have chosen that topic)  and a series of questions and answers based on your application for 30 to 40 minutes. The total interview lasts for a minimum of 40-50 minutes.

Frequently Asked Interview Questions

Tell me about yourself?
Tell me about your greatest professional/Personal achievement?
Tell me about a time when you failed?

Why MBA?
Why HEC? Why not INSEAD?
What is your short-term goal after MBA or 5-year goal? What is your long-term goal?
How can you add value to our class? Why should we select you and not anyone else?
What is your level of competency in French? Are you willing to learn the language, and how soon can you accomplish this?
Do you have any questions for us/me?

Other areas touched upon are – Situational questions, Behavioral questions, Cross questions based on your answers

Interview Transcript - 1

To begin with, both my interviews were on skype. This may seem a little off as HEC prefers to usually conduct at least one F2F interview, perhaps the timing and the fact that my result deadline was barely 10 days away prompted admissions team to nominate interviewers who would rely on skype. I was certainly grateful as the nearest country I would have to travel would have been UAE or India and tickets are not cheap this time of the year.
After scheduling interviews with both interviewers I settled down to prepare my presentation (11 slides, all-inclusive) and proceeded to share it with the interviewers via email.
Interview I:
After brief introductions, I opened with my presentation and dove straight in as I knew that my topic of choice was rather complex and was on a subject that would invite plenty of questions. 
4-5 slides in (7 minutes I guess?), she interrupted with me with a few questions on the subject and the discussion soon segued into general questions. 2 questions in, she asked me to put away the presentation and I knew that the interview and begun in earnest.

Questions:
Why MBA?
Why HEC?
What are your post-MBA plans and goals?
How do you think HEC will help you get into the field you want to enter?
What is your level of competency in French?
Are you willing to learn the language, and how soon can you accomplish this?
Post-this the interview turned into a back and forth conversation about alumni, networking and HEC’s courses and employment.
Keeping with HEC tradition, she seemed very friendly and open; often providing her candid opinions on the school’s positives and negatives and even graciously offering me assistance in the future. Overall, the interview was extremely casual and at no time did the interviewer really proceed with the intent to put me on the spot. The session lasted exactly 50 minutes.

Interview II:
This one had to be scheduled in the evening on a Sunday (which is a working day in the region!) due to the inherent time crunch and my exhaustion after an entire day’s work may have shown and I powered through on sheer adrenaline. I recommend that you pick more suitable times when your mind functions optimally.
Though I had reservations, this interviewer was friendly and understanding. He remained patient even through net connection related annoyances but his questions were probing and he was constantly looking to evaluate me through my responses at every juncture.
Again, I kicked-off with the presentation (this time using a screen-share) and almost 30 minutes had passed by the time I reached my final slide! Of course, this could be attributed to the umpteen questions and discussions that we had in between on both the subject and other related issues during the course of the presentation.
On completion, we shifted back to the face to face view and the questions began:
Why MBA?
Why HEC?
What are your post-MBA plans and goals?
Why did you choose this particular industry?
What makes you think you would able to fit into this industry, considering that it is not entirely related to your background?
Many Asian students do not find employment in France or Europe; assuming this happens you, what is your backup plan?
At this point, we segued into a discussion on networking and the various techniques
students use to link up with alumni; then back to the questions:
What impact do you think the internet has had on networking and connecting to people?
{slightly tricky considering that I’m not from a tech background and wasn’t expecting
this}
Why do you think that online platforms are less effective? {based on my response to the
previous question}
Here again, we segued into a debate with regard to networking and the importance of the internet. I was then invited to ask any questions if I so wished. I posed a few queries on the particular subjects that would be in the curriculum and what an average day looked like in the life of a student.
Overall, this was more of an engaging conversation than an interview and my nervousness really was not warranted. As with every other HEC alumnus I had spoken to previously, he too was warm and friendly rather than intimidating or annoyed. My final results are due on the 5th of February, 2016 and I await them with bated breath. I’ll be sure to share the results here whether positive or not. Until then, I’ll try not to stare at the clock so hard, willing the minutes and hours to fly past more quickly then they should.
Good-luck with your interviews ladies and gents!!

Interview Transcript - 2

Hi Friends,
I recently got admitted to HEC Paris and am quite excited to attend the school next year. A brief about my profile: Indian, 720 GMAT and working in renewable energy finance. My interview experience was great and very informative. The best part about HEC interview is that it is more of a discussion. The school organizes two interviews and they try to make sure that at least one of them is face to face. This is a great opportunity, especially for international applicants, to meet with alumni and learn more about the school.
So, the first tip is obviously the one you must have got bored of hearing……”Don’t Fake your way in”……..you would be cheating yourself. MBA requires huge investment and you can make more out of it if the program is a good fit for you. Honestly, I had researched about the school through their website and got to speak with some current students before my interview. Apart from the MBA program, if you are interested in the French culture it is even better for you. Also, if you are interested to learn “French”, then lot many doors can open for you.
Coming back to the main topic. During the interview stay calm, patient and don’t get nervous as this is not the end.
Interview 1:

Some of the key questions from my Skype Interview:
a. Walk me through your resume?
b. Why HEC MBA?…….You need to research the program well and show concrete reasons and not generic ones.
c. Why Europe?
d. Post-MBA goals
e. Any question for the interviewer?….This is a really important one, please don’t ask any information which is already on the website.

Interview 2:

Some of the key questions from face to face interview:
a. Had a long discussion on renewable energy in India
b. Walk me through your profile?
c. What about international exposures and leadership opportunities?
d. Why HEC? What do you bring to HEC?
e. Have you evaluated career prospects? What are your career goals and what is you plan to reach those goals and how HEC can help?
f. The interviewer gave me tips on what to do if I get selected and told about his experience in HEC and also France.
The alumni as well as current students are really helpful so don’t be shy in contacting anyone. Please message me if you would like to know about anything specific.
All the Best !

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Interview Transcript - 3

Hey everyone

I am sure there are many people who would be applying to HEC in the later rounds and I would like to give back to this community since I have lurked around the website for a long time and got immense help from the people here. So here goes my experience.

My profile-Architect from India with 4 years of experience in Real estate and construction industry. Worked in a real estate developer for 2 years and currently working with a startup. 6 months of work experience in Germany. Decent academics from a premier college and decent GMAT score (700), lots of leadership experiences.

I submitted my application on 31st Jan and got my pre-selection email in exact 2 weeks. I got my interviewer details within 2 days and I immediately contacted them and scheduled my interview. I really liked the past paced application process of HEC. HEC had always been my favorite school because of its cultural diversity, location and a balanced duration course- 16 months, unlike other US B-Schools or INSEAD. Also, the investment is pretty low compared to a US B-School. They also have an on-campus accommodation which makes the community feeling even stronger. Plus its Europe!

Interview 1 My first interview was with a 2013 alumnus. We scheduled an interview at a nearby cafe. I reached the place 30 mins prior to the scheduled time. The format of the interview was pretty simple- The presentation followed by an interview. I chose a topic that is very close to my field and I have worked extensively on-Implementing construction technology in India. I kept the topic very generic, focusing on the challenges of the construction industry, various technologies available and various strategies to implement them on a micro and macro level. The interview was followed by a fairly relaxed conversation with questions on my career progression, why MBA, desired career after MBA, why HEC etc. Further, he asked me about my strengths, areas of improvement, what contributions I would make to the class and which clubs was I interested in. This was followed by few questions that I had thought of. I asked him about typical student day at HEC, his experience during his exchange and most memorable experience during MBA. He also gave me a few tips about HEC if I got in. Since I was kind of sure about the industry I wanted to work in, he asked me to start networking from Day 1 and actively look for case competitions. He was also from the January intake and he told me that the jan intake is a really closed knit community since the class size is really small (70 students). Also, the diversity of the class is a key strength of HEC. Overall it was a great experience and I left having a good feeling about the interview.

Interview 2. My second interview was with a 2012 alumnus based in Zurich through skype. She was from the construction industry and I knew this one would be more specific. So I prepared in details on which type of companies (specifically from Real Estate) I was targeting, specific trends in Paris Real Estate etc. This interview also started with the presentation and my interviewer had a lot of questions on my presentation. She showed keen interest in my presentation topic. Then there were some questions on my international exposure followed by typical MBA questions. She also asked me on challenges of setting an office of a multinational company in India. Then she asked me a few questions on my volunteer experience. I have been involved in training a group of women in computers at an NGO. We discussed further on topics of women empowerment in India and what challenges I faced while training them. She also stated that construction industry has very few women leaders and asked my opinion on the issue. Then I asked her on how she got in her current company because it was not one of the regular hiring companies at HEC. She said that she did a case competition for it and that’s how they recruited her. She also suggested that I should learn French before the program starts and not bank upon learning it during the program because that would give an additional edge. Overall, a more specific interview but the experience was really good.

Oh and yes- Both of them said their best experience was the military style training program at St. Cyr. That should really be something.

Final decision came a week after I completed my interviews- Accepted!  

My two cents to all those applying- Focus on your essays because they are really important. And more importantly, just be yourself. For the presentation topic, choose one which you are really confident about but does not have a lot of industry jargon. Even if it is your industry related, keep it on a very superficial level so that a person from a different industry can understand it. Dry run your presentation in front of your friends. I did it 2-3 times and asked for constant feedback. Research your interviewers well and chose some really specific and some generic questions to ask them. And although I was not asked, I have read it in previous posts that applicants should be ready with why not LBS or INSEAD instead question.

Interview Transcript - 4

Hi all,
Since my journey to HEC has been slightly different than the ones I have read on various forums, I think it will be helpful to share my experience. Off the bat I must give big kudos to the HEC admission team for how swift the whole process was. It was way more efficient than any other school I applied to. I applied on August 2014 deadline for January 2015 intake. In hindsight, being from the over represented Indian-male pool applying so late was not the greatest idea. 

The application
The whole essay writing part of the application was not that cumbersome overall. However, smaller essay quantity was slightly misleading since HEC does ask some career related questions that are not part of essays but will require similar level of thinking. I finished the essays in 2 weeks. I know this part is entirely dependent on your individual stories, so I strongly recommend reviewing the essay topics and judge yourself how much time you will need. 

Pre-selection
I received the pre-selection decision within 2 weeks of submitting the application. I submitted the application on August 14th and received the pre-selection email on August 26th. It took them about a week to get me information for both interviewers and took me two weeks to get the interviews scheduled and completed. 

Interviews
Both the interviews were conducted by alumni based locally. I did spend 4-5 days to figure out the presentation topic and to make sure the presentation had good flow and looked professional. I practiced the presentation few times to make sure I don’t draw a blank on any slides during the interview. The topic I chose was very generic however during the presentation I put a lot emphasis on how it was relevant to me because of my professional experiences. During the presentation I also mentioned a lot of examples of my experiences relevant to the topic. The interviews were very casual (in fact one interviewer specifically asked me to not dress formally, thank god for that, it was a particularly warm day) and were in coffee shops. I presented the slides on my ipad and handed over printed handouts for them to take notes. This worked well in coffee shop environment and I highly recommend this approach if you have access to a tablet.

Interviewer no. 1 was actually not a full time HEC student. He did his MBA from a reputed US school and went to HEC as an exchange student only for one quarter and that too in EIGHTIES. He mentioned that he has been doing the interviews for HEC for 6-7 years but was little surprised that HEC has been asking him to interview. I guess because they didn’t have many HEC alumni in the region I live in. The overall interview was very friendly. It didn’t follow any standard format. The interviewer mixed the usual MBA interview questions with some questions regarding my personal life and work. He asked for the presentation in the middle of the interview and then went back to his questions after the presentation. He did time the presentation, so make sure you practice the timing of your presentation. It was little awkward to ask him questions regarding school since he went there such a long time ago and only for a short duration. But I did ask few questions any way just to show I was interested.

Interview no. 2 did go to HEC full time and went o LBS as exchange student. He went there in early 2000s so he had slightly more updated information and was enthusiastic about sharing some of his good and bad experiences. None of the questions were unusual. Interviewer did not take any notes during the interview so seemed like he was sort of just checking on me rather than doing thorough evaluation. He never asked for the presentation. In fact, when I asked if he was interested in seeing the presentation he reluctantly agreed (out of respect for the work I put in, I guess).

Overall make sure to have your stories straight and don’t try to be someone you are not. Try to create good personal connection with the interviewer and have a genuine appreciation for them spending 1 hour of their weekend with you. The interviewers are doing the interviews as a favor to both the school and you so you better be well prepared otherwise it is insulting to them. 
Both my interviewers gave me a very favorable feedback after the interviews and indicated that they will be recommending my application. After the interviews I sent both thank you emails and got positive replies.

Final(??) Decision
I received the final decision exactly 5 weeks from the submission deadline – WAITLISTED. Not a good day. Having been through one waitlist-rejection cycle already once with a different school I was in no mood to go through it again. I thanked the admission coordinator and like any good MBA applicant started googling my acceptance chances. There is not much information out there for HEC so I also contacted few people from previous years’ forums. They were mostly encouraging and suggested me to keep in touch with the admission team and show them how interested you are.

Post final decision
I decided to look for ways to be more visible to the admission committee. Out of nowhere I stumbled upon HEC’s promotional tour, lo and behold somebody from HEC’s development team will be visiting the city I live in. I immediately signed up online for their information session. Within a day or so I got an email from the development team member about wanting to talk to me about my application on the phone. On the phone she explained to me that admission jury liked my application but to maintain diversity they put me on the waitlist. BUT, if I am willing to consider September 2015 intake I will have a very good chance of getting in. Plus I will have time to apply for scholarships and on-campus housing which were already getting full. After contemplating the delay in start time with my wife I finally met the development manager in person and told her that I will be willing to attend in September. I didn’t expect to hear anything for couple weeks thinking I will hear back after the admission jury meets to look at applications from next deadline. 

I received an email three days after my meeting with the development manager that I was admitted!!

I hope the post helps other applicants who might be flexible with their term start time. I hope some of the insights regarding my interviews will also be of some use to few of you.

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Interview Transcript - 5

Hey everyone!
Here goes my interview experience for HEC.

I had submitted my application on 1st January and got a mail that I had been shortlisted for the interviews on 22nd January. My first interview was a face-to-face interview in New Delhi(which was my first preference) and the second one was a skype interview.

Interview #1
On 23rd January, I received the contact details of my first interviewer, who is an alumnus of the school. I contacted him immediately and we finalized the date and time of our rendezvous. The interview was more like a regular conversation where you could discuss your plans and goals with the interviewer.
The main things discussed in this interview were:
1. Why HEC? Why not any other school?
(You will have to differentiate how HEC suits you better. Be prepared to answer why not INSEAD or LBS.)
2. Why MBA? And why now?
3. Mention 3 of your strengths which, in your opinion, no other HEC applicant would have.
4. How do you plan to finance your MBA?
5. Do you know anyone from HEC who is working on something similar to what you plan to do?
6. What will you do if you don’t get selected this year?
7. How will you contribute to the program as a student and as an alumnus?
8. Which other schools have you applied to? Which one will you join if you get admitted to all of them? 
(I told him about all the schools. Then I mentioned that my first preference was HEC.)
9. Give me three good reasons why you would choose HEC over these schools.
10. What in your current job has led you to pursue this goal?
11. Why do you think HEC can best help you achieve this? Can’t you do this in ABC XYZ school too?

Although the interview was supposed to start with the presentation, we decided to keep it for later. So in the end, I gave my presentation which was about an upcoming technology in power generation. The main questions asked in the presentation were:
1. The most obvious one…. Why did you choose this topic?
2. Why do you believe this technology has a bright future?
3. Are there any countries/governments in support of this technology?
4. Some more questions related to costs involved and impact of this technology on the environment.
After the presentation I was given a chance to ask some questions to the interviewer. I cleared some doubts regarding the program and alumni network and wrapped up the interview on a good note.

Interview #2
I received the details of my second interviewer on January 26th and got in touch with him immediately to schedule the date and time for the skype interview. After confirming the appointment, I also took the interviewer’s skype ID and informed him that I will be initiating the call. 
About an hour before initiating the call, I called up one of my friends and walked him through the presentation on skype to warm up for the interview. Then finally I made the call to the interviewer at the decided time.
After we both introduced each other, the interview started with the presentation. As it was a skype interview, I had already mailed the presentation slides to the interviewer. We opened the presentation on our laptops and then I took him through the entire presentation very smoothly. This interviewer was an expert on energy and power generation and asked me a lot of questions about how this technology would be better as compared to other upcoming technologies. We had a healthy discussion and the questions were not too technical. The interviewer took a lot of interest in the presentation as it was related to his field of work.

After the presentation we moved on to the next part of the interview process. The questions asked were similar to the ones asked in the first interview. The only new questions asked were:
1. Which student clubs do you plan to join and why?
2. Are you comfortable working with a cross cultural team?
3. At HEC you will be assigned to a team having people from various different nationalities and there will be people in your group who will not cooperate or do something that ticks you off. How will you handle such a situation?
The rest of the questions were quite similar to the first interview. This interview went very well as I was already prepared for all kinds of questions after my first interview.
This was my first ever interview on skype and I was a bit confused initially about how to prepare for it. However, I was able to nail it.

Interview Transcript - 6

Had my interviews this week so for the benefit of the future applicants, here goes my debrief 

1st Interview —

The alum was from 2008 batch and was a very thorough interviewer. It was one of the most intensely personal interviews that you could hope for. The idea was to know me as a person. But he did try his best to make me feel comfortable. We met at coffee shop and the interview lasted for an hour or so. 
He asked questions related to every phase of my life, going as far back as school days and questioned everything that I mentioned. Just an example when I said, I used to represent my school in quizzes; he immediately asked if I remember any question after which I felt real proud. He even dived into how I will be financing my mba , my interests , situations at work place, follow up questions from my essays etc.

I presented on Mumbai Dabbawalas and he did ask me if I thought it would interest someone who was not aware of them and I said, if they were good enough for a HBS case study, they should be good enough for this exercise as well.

Other questions were related to my GMAT score, how many times I took the test, whether planning for a retake etc. Marks in school and other activities. 
Some more questions on choice of schools, why not INSEAD etc. He also gave me a run down on a profile of a super star candidate at HEC and asked how I will cope up while competing against such stars. He also asked, given my extensive experience, how will I compete against guys who are hungrier and faster (read 25 year olds). Why MBA, why HEC etc also came up. My backup plan, if I weren’t selected and what if I don’t get desired job etc. and offcourse strength and weakness. Also why they should select me and not someone else.

To summarize, i don’t think you can prepare for such an interview. All you can do is be yourself and try to maintain a consistent story. If you are meant to be selected (read if you are fit for school) then you will be. 

There is so much more but basically, all he tried to do was know me as a person. After interview, he gave me few tips regarding the presentation for the next interview and we chatted for half an hour. Then while leaving, we again started another discussion and ended up chatting for another couple of hours and that’s when we really connected. 

Overall, I have no clue how I did 

2nd Interview —

This was with a 2002 grad and I met her in her office. Very sweet lady and this was a very formal interview. basic questions like why mba, why HEC etc. she asked a lot of questions regarding my idea of leadership, how will I handle tough situations at work, tough projects, failures , strengths, weakness , why they should select me. My main motivation for choosing HEC was it ranking or faculty etc. I did threw in names of students that I had spoken with and prof Kapferer and she seemed impressed but said I would be lucky to get him to teach.

Then we chatted for some time regarding her experiences and she advised me that I should start on French if I get selected.
Summary 
Through both interviews, I think college was trying to cross check everything that you have written and to know you as a person. Don’t think I could have done anything more or differently although my presentation went a lot better during 2nd interview. Now the waiting game begins 

All the best to the future applicants. Feel free to ask questions.

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