This is the third of five articles on how to begin your MBA application process. The articles were written by Brian Fobi, CEO of Gurufi, and they present the author's personal and professional experience on the topic.

In my decade-and-a-half as an MBA admissions consultant, I have seen hundreds of fantastic personal statements… and thousands of really bad ones. It’s usually easy to spot the problem with the bad ones: inauthenticity. A well-constructed MBA application accentuates your strengths, contextualizes your weaknesses and missteps, and presents an optimistic and attainable future where the applicant uses their MBA experience to achieve their goals. Constructing your personal statements and other aspects of your application in a manner that meets this test requires frank and deep self-reflection. This self-reflection isn’t simply an academic exercise; it’s a critical step in crafting an application that resonates with authenticity and demonstrates preparedness.

Thus, before you begin planning your essays, you first need to dive deep into your personal and professional experiences to identify what you excel at and where you could use some growth. This introspective process will not only enhance your application but also set you up for success in business school and beyond.

Understanding self-assessment in the MBA context

An MBA application process is uniquely designed to evaluate candidates from a holistic perspective, with the specific context being “How do they see their future, and can they achieve it?”. Admissions committees look for more than just academic prowess and professional achievements; they seek individuals who possess a keen self-awareness and a proactive approach to personal development. Your ability to articulate your strengths and weaknesses speaks volumes about your readiness for the challenges and learning opportunities that an MBA program presents.

Identifying your strengths

Start with your strengths. These are the attributes, skills, and experiences that set you apart. Reflect on your career achievements, leadership experiences, and moments when you overcame significant challenges. Ask yourself what qualities contributed to these successes. I find that having clients make a list of their best attributes is a great start. Was it your innovative thinking, your ability to lead and inspire teams, or your knack for strategic problem-solving?

From there, you can link each attribute to a concrete example of when it helped you, and how. Instead of simply stating that you’re a good communicator, recount an instance where your communication skills led to a tangible outcome, such as resolving a conflict or sealing a crucial deal. This specificity not only highlights your strengths but also demonstrates them in action. You may have heard the old writing maxim, “show, don’t tell.” This is what this means: use stories and examples to show your great attributes.

Addressing your weaknesses

Confronting your weaknesses might feel uncomfortable, but it’s a vital part of the process. The objective isn’t to spotlight your flaws but to show your capacity for self-evaluation and your commitment to improvement. Consider areas where you’ve faced challenges or where feedback has pointed to a need for growth. If this feels uncomfortable for you, begin by acknowledging this simple fact: everybody has weaknesses, and everybody has failed. Your ability to identify, own, and grow from your missteps is what can set you apart form a candidate who isn’t as self-aware. This is why many schools will have essay prompts asking for your biggest failure and also why it’s one of the most common interview questions.

When discussing your weaknesses, focus on the steps you’ve taken to address them. This might involve additional training, seeking mentorship, or taking on new challenges to build your skills. For example, if public speaking has always been a hurdle, discuss how you took on more speaking engagements to build your confidence and skill set. This approach shows admissions committees that you’re not just aware of your areas for improvement but are actively working to enhance them.

If this is something you struggle with, check out these three videos about how to write about failures in your MBA application!

Balancing your application narrative

Your MBA application should weave together your strengths and weaknesses in a way that presents a balanced, authentic narrative of who you are and who you aspire to become. For every weakness, there should be a corresponding strength or an example of how you’ve worked to turn that weakness into an opportunity for growth. This balanced narrative demonstrates to admissions committees that you possess the self-awareness, humility, and drive necessary to thrive in an MBA program. It shows that you’re not just seeking an MBA for the credential but are genuinely engaged in the process of personal and professional development.

The journey of self-reflection to identify your strengths and weaknesses is more than just a step in the MBA application process; it’s an opportunity for personal growth. This introspective look allows you to present an authentic and compelling application, demonstrating your readiness for the transformative experience of business school. Moreover, it equips you with a deeper understanding of yourself, which will be invaluable as you navigate the challenges and opportunities of your MBA program and your future career. Embrace this process with openness and honesty, and let it guide you toward becoming not just a stronger applicant, but a more self-aware and resilient individual.

For more help with your personal statement, check us out at Our personal statement editors and consultants have decades of experience helping clients get into top MBA programs. Our specialty is helping you craft compelling personal statements that move the needle in your admissions process! For questions, shoot us an email at Check us out on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.