Advice from Admissions Directors: What Makes an Ideal MBA Candidate?

Posted by The MBA Tour on 08 December 2015 / 0 Comments

When you think of an "ideal MBA candidate" what comes to mind? Probably a perfect GMAT score, stellar GPA, and an impressive career at a prestigious company. While grades, work experience, and test scores are essential factors for a successful application, there are many other less obvious qualities that make an applicant stand out.
During our recent Twitter Chat, we asked Admissions Directors from top b-schools to tell us what makes up an ideal MBA candidate.

Know why you want your MBA

You might be thinking "duh!" Yet, it's surprising how many candidates are unable to answer the question when they are flat out asked in an interview "why do you want to get your MBA?" Having a thought out, well-developed response will show admissions officers that you have a clear sense of direction and that you have made an informed decision in pursuing your MBA. This doesn't mean you need a specific 5 year plan, but you should reflect on both the macro and micro levels the reasons an MBA would help you achieve your goals.

Have strong communication skills

Just as important as being able to answer why you want your MBA, communication skills—both written and verbal--are crucial to a successful application. Remember, admissions officers are people too! Communicate with them like you would with a well-respected boss or professor. Ask informed questions, write unique essays, send thank you notes, and have a genuine dialogue during your interview.

Be balanced and well-rounded

What can take an impressive GPA or GMAT score and suddenly make it look not-so-stellar? A lack of demonstrated leadership and passion outside of school, tests, and work. Whether it’s chairing a volunteer organization, consulting for small local businesses, or penning a blog that blends your love of fashion and business, admissions officers want to see what kinds of contributions you could bring to the MBA class community.

Embrace diversity and your unique experiences

Every person has a story, and admissions officers want to hear your personal narrative. Did you spend the past 4 years working for an NGO abroad? Is your undergraduate degree in philosophy? Are you a concert pianist? Many candidates refrain from including information that they that they think isn’t related to “business.” Yet, these can be essential “story shapers” that speak to who you are.

For more application advice and updates, follow us on Twitter @TheMBATour!

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