The MBA application package
The successful MBA application process is a combination of standardised formal criteria, such as undergraduate results, GMAT score, overall GPA, experience etc., and criteria focused on areas meant to reflect the personal and professional life of the candidate. The first group of formal criteria is made up of hygiene factors which, though vital to every candidate's chances to get in, are unlikely to set him/her apart. For this reason, candidates should not rely on excellent academic background, GMAT and professional experience to get them in. The x-factor characteristics and the personal uniqueness of the candidate are the factors that will open the door to the desired MBA programme.
Tell your story
A great application is about “story telling”. […] You have to make sure that you convey your true story and your passions and dreams in your MBA application. It’s more about being truthful and telling your story than it is about saying what the admissions committee wants to hear. If you have a cheerful personality, showcase this in your application,
says Vivek Nanda, a WHU-Otto Beisheim School of Management graduate and an admission adviser.
Who you really are and why you want an MBA are the key questions that should be answered throughout your whole application file. Demonstrate your strengths, soft skills, talents, leadership potential and ability to manage. Answer the big question: what motivated you to apply? In the end, your story and strong motivation are what interest the admission committee.
What B-schools look for
In fact, every B-school has its specifics when searching for the best candidates. But all want to see the x-factor of the candidate – the self-awareness, strengths and weaknesses and personal skills that will add value in class; an open mind showing the candidate’s steadfast willingness to listen and learn; and most importantly, the candidate’s ambition and motivation. These make the real distinction between the applications in the pile.
Stand out during the interview
The easiest way for prospective MBA candidates to convince admission committees they are the right fit for the school’s MBA programme is to act well before the final round of the application process – the interview. Stand out through the whole application process, including the essays, the references or letters of recommendation, and finally the interview. Use essays to show how you are different – by conveying some unique aspects of your background – for instance, growing up in another country, and how this has impacted you. Show this to demonstrate how you can contribute to the classroom and the community. Reveal experience that others will not have, such as unusual project or sector experience, or international exposure. The same applies to the candidate’s letters of recommendation. Referees should be picked very carefully; they should be people who know the prospective student really well so as to show his/her best attributes, backed by real-life examples during studies or at work. At the last step in the admission process – the formal interview – it is now time for the candidate to show and focus on their leadership potential. The candidate has this final chance to convince the admission committee of his/her abilities to manage and lead.
The bottom line: focus on everything that can demonstrate your personal and professional qualities and put your advantages and potential on show, proving your leadership skills. Be clear in your whole application file about what is unique about your perspective and what you bring to the table that other students won’t bring and that the school community will value. In the end, it’s not only about your excellent academic background or professional experience. It’s equally about your personal uniqueness, soft skills, talents and strong motivation for wanting the targeted MBA.
This article has been produced by Advent Group and featured in the 2015-2016 Access MBA Guide.
Check out the PrepAdvisre infographic which will help your planning.