"Good" Recommenders for MBA Recommendations: Who Are They? . General Admissions.  

"Good" Recommenders for MBA Recommendations: Who Are They?

As USNews reporter has fairly put it, MBA recommendations do not entirely impact AdComs final decision on whether to offer an MBA class place or reject.

They can however, strengthen an MBA candidate’s profile and improve his/her chances to get admitted. So what are the possible ways to contribute to MBA application by recommendations? How do successful MBA recommendations look like?

Vivid and detailed examples. Ask your recommenders to remind good examples to prove your professional knowledge, skills and achievements. These examples will help AdComs make a wider picture of you and understand your motivation to achieve the results that you have bulleted in your CV. Moreover, by reading detailed descriptions of situations and cases, where you participated, the AdComs will be able to visualize them and mostly physically see and know you.

Right focus. What does it mean? Recommendations should exemplify the characteristics and skills, which are exceptionally important for business schools to evaluate you as a fit MBA candidate. Be sure, the examples of your:

  • Professional expertise and competencies
  • Leadership skills
  • Teamwork skills
  • Communication skills
  • Analytical and cognitive abilities
  • Research and presentation skills

have been included into your MBA recommendation. To assure the right list of examples,  speak to your recommenders beforehand and explain them the most important characteristics a business school looks for in recommendations.

Long-term relationships and close collaboration. Focus on the right pool of recommenders to bring the maximum value to what they write about you. Weak recommendations are those, which are written by:

  • Your professional colleague, who has known you for less than 6 months
  • Somebody at work, who collaborates/sees you just once a month at general corporate meetings
  • Your good friend, who loves you so much that won’t be able to judge your abilities and skills objectively and will bring more emotions and feelings instead of clear examples to your recommendation
  • Your relative, even if he or she a Harvard MBA alumni and a world-known person

An ideal candidate for a valuable and qualitative recommendation, which will definitely make an AdComs pay special attention to your MBA application profile is your direct supervisor/partner/client, who:

  • has known you for more than 6 months
  • has collaborated with you every day/week and experienced a lot of teamwork with you, gathering many evidences of your responses, actions, decisions and initiatives
  • has a good track of your professional development (e.g. career growth/promotions/duties expansion/team projects etc.)
  • is valuable for the detailed and relevant examples your features rather than for their position and education.

How to achieve this? It’s easy: start communicating with your potential recommenders at least 2 months before application begins. Schedule a 30-min. conversation with them to share your goal to get an MBA and post-MBA ambitions. Explain them what is expected in a recommendation and ask them whether they will be able to devote their time (at least 2 hours) and efforts (to brainstorm good examples) to give you a candid recommendation. And if your possible recommender is not sure he/she can meet your expectations, quit he/she and keep searching!


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Author: Victoria Dudka, MBA Strategy Consultants Team Lead

MBA Admissions Consulting Services


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