Business schools' "secret formula" for selecting MBA candidates

Every MBA candidate wants to know MBA Admissions Committees’ “secret formula” for selecting candidates. Have you ever wondered:

  • What are their selection criteria?
  • How can someone with a 700+ GMAT be “waitlisted”?
  • How do they see the leadership potential when a candidate has only two years of work experience?
  • What makes candidate A stronger than candidate B when they have equal amount of work experience and similar GMAT scores?

When I first joined Rotman as an Assistant Director of Admissions, I had those same questions on my mind. I thought there was a “secret formula” and was waiting for my colleagues to reveal all the secrets to me! To my surprise, there turned out to be no secret at all.

As the years went by, I got to know thousands of candidates and learned the MBA program at my school in-depth. I realized that there wasn’t one size that fits all. Each component of the MBA program addresses a specific area candidates could improve.

What does this mean to you as an MBA applicant?

The MBA program is not about just teaching you finance or accounting, not it is about producing more strategy consultants or investment bankers than the economy needs! It’s about helping you realize your full career potential, improve your weak areas, and develop your leadership skills.

The MBA programs are designed to give you a balanced mix of hard and soft skills. For instance, for candidates without strong quantitative backgrounds the “core” courses will be very beneficial. These candidates will learn the fundamental aspects of businesses, such how to read financial documents or marketing plans.

Candidates with strong technical skills will benefit from the teamwork, peer learning and networking aspects of the program and will be able to enhance their interpersonal and communications skills that are so crucial in the workplace.

How do you “sell yourself”?

When “selling” yourself to the admissions committee, it’s very important to showcase your talents, but also identify how the program can help you. Be confident but humble. Thinking you’re the perfect candidate would scare any admissions person, because this shows that you are not coachable or adaptable.

Develop good soft skills, ace the interview, and you could be heads above other candidates. Ignore the “people” aspect of the selection process, and not even a high GMAT score could help you gain admission.

MBA Admissions is more Art than Science. The admissions committee’s job is to evaluate you as a candidate from all perspectives and decide if their MBA program offers what you need – they are looking for the infamous “FIT”.

I find it quite surprising to see how some candidates decide not to apply to certain business schools because they think they’re not “good enough”. Every candidate has something valuable to offer to their future classmates. The hardest part often is to figure out what your competitive edge is, and highlight it as much as you can throughout the application process.

Sounds easy enough?

If you’re aiming to gain admission into top MBA programs and don’t want to “sell yourself short”, consider working with a professional MBA admissions consultant (all Admit Master consultants have practical experience working at one of top business schools).

Sign up for a free profile evaluation to see what schools will be the best for your career advancement.

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Good luck!

Claire Gumus,
Admit Master MBA Admissions Consultant.