The seemingly holistic process of granting a candidate admission to a top B School program anywhere in the world is necessarily less so because of the varying targets at each stage of the process. In effect, this grants the candidate considerable advantages if he or she is able to identify the levers whose application will most enhance the chances of a successful admission. The HEC MBA program is no different. Schools can typically be classified into categories based on certain broad parameters like class size, specialization, ranking, average GMAT score and so forth. Subsequently this also means that candidates who are admitted to set schools are or rather have to present themselves in as favorable a light as possible to appeal to these categories. HEC Paris is a selective school with as little as 200 students every year. Being a European program it also typically accepts candidates with more work experience than most American or Asian schools. This however does not categorically deny one an admission if he or she as only a couple of years of work experience, but rather an opportunity to work on other aspects of the application to make a compelling argument to ones capabilities outside of work. This higher work experience level of admitted candidates also accounts of their relative unfamiliarity with standardized tests and hence calls for a slightly lower average GMAT score than schools from other countries where the average age of the student body is much younger and hence closer to their classroom experiences. Whether this is the right approach is a something I will not address in this note. With such a small class size, the admission committee is typically forced to reject a lot of candidates every year resulting in a selectivity of about 20%, a number that is one of the highest across top MBA programs anywhere in the world.

After a pre selection for an interview the candidate is typically invited to 2 interviews with alumni. In what is seen as one of the more original MBA interviewing experiences, the candidate is required to present a business case on a topic of his or her interest for a duration of 20 minutes. This is followed by a discussion on said presentation followed by questions that are more typical of an MBA interview.

A candidates application is typically read by 4 people before a decision is taken, giving the prospective an immense opportunity to speak to a varied audience through the essays. However given the high contact application process this also ensures that mistakes by the candidate are easy to spot and often summarily penalized.

Having said that as with any MBA program, a successful entry into a school is only the beginning of a long and difficult, yet rewarding 2 year experience.