The essay BY ITSELF can, in some 10% of cases, damage you, and in some 20% of cases help you, and in most cases, confirm what they already know from the other stuff — which is a lot. To that extent, nothing is new. The new HBS essay is actually very similar to the famous Stanford essay, “What Matters Most to You and Why?” in that it is open-ended, and especially in the no word limit format, it can provide lots of room for you to drift into trouble. To the extent you can drift into trouble because it is open-ended, well, I suppose that is new and important. It was really harder to screw up last year’s essays and become offensive or annoying. That is now easier. On the positive side, it gives some people lots of room to explain their backgrounds (that was not the case last year), career goals, if they are career switchers (that was also hard to do last year) and you have the satisfaction of being able to say whatever you want.

 Here are a few reasons why I think the HBS admissions essay is (and should be) here to stay:

I’ll incorporate this post’s content into a longer full post on the HBS essay in early June. Below, I discuss possible sources of content for this essay by considering the three primary stated criteria and one overall consideration that HBS uses in selecting candidates because this can form the basis of a successful admissions strategy.
Four Ways HBS Evaluates Applicants
My objective when working with each of my clients is to help them identify the best content in their essays, resume, interview and other application components to show fit for each school they apply to. My approach is to understand the audience that is being communicated to because the only objective of your application is to communicate effectively to your audience, the admissions committee.
The following summarizes what HBS is looking for (Diversity, Habit of Leadership, Analytical Aptitude and Appetite, and Engaged Community Citizenship) and the possible places where you can demonstrate these in your initial application (Interview and post-interview not considered below):

HBS Essay Tips (Class of 2017) | MBA Admissions Advisors

Joint HBS Essay (for MPP and MPA/ID applicants only, if applying to Joint HKS/HBS Program)

KREISBERG: Ha, ha, good one. Actually, given that the Round One HBS deadline is in mid-September and Stanford’s Round One deadline is several weeks later, I can see the opposite. A lot of HBS essays fitted into Stanford, with some transitional material, of course.