Today’s post comes from Manhattan Review Singapore, a well-known provider of test prep and MBA Admissions Consulting in Singapore for Top Business Schools.
Deciding to go for an MBA is a once-in-a-lifetime commitment. The admissions process is hugely nerve-wracking, fueled by constant news that top schools often reject over 80 percent of their applicants. Applicants are required to do a lot of work and preparation before they even start their application.
A high score in the GMAT is great, up to a point. After that point, a high score becomes irrelevant. However, the application and the interview are most often the deciding factors. The application that is balanced, original and glowing is what you’ll be striving for. Should you make mistakes in the application process, admission officers won’t be too understanding. So have a look at the list Manhattan Review has compiled on the 6 most common mistakes MBA applicants make:
Talk is Cheap.
It’s not enough to describe your outstanding traits and abilities. You have to give specific examples. There are a number of different and creative ways that can demonstrate your leadership skills – from being strategic in your thinking to how you successfully motivate co-workers. Have these examples at your fingertips. And understand that your background plays an important role in illustrating your future potential. Then prove it with excellent examples in your application as well as in your interview.
Did Not Research the School Well Enough.
Not knowing much about a school will show in your application. There's a good deal of data on school websites, but we know from experience that misinformation spreads easily. To that end, schedule a school tour, visit the campus, sit in on a class if you can, talk to current students and even alumni, when possible. The admissions team not only wants to know why you’ve decided to get an MBA, but also why you believe their school is the best place to get it. Further, admission directors know when they receive applications that are "copied and pasted." Neglecting to address the unique requirements of each MBA program is a surefire way to a major rejection. Demonstrate why a particular school is the right one for you along with your being a good fit for the school. Further, the more you know about the school, the better you can link your skills, talents and goals to specific features of the school, for example, you could mention how a certain course will help you in one area.
Along with your essays, forms and resume, recommendations are a key component of the application. If you're tempted to hand off a blank recommendation sheet to your college professor, you’re not thinking clearly. Instead, show the professor your application (a good chance to get feedback) and provide instances where you exercised leadership skills. The admissions committee culls valuable information from recommenders about an applicant’s job performance, work style, and leadership skills. So be sure to select individuals you believe will devote a good amount of time to their task. And definitely exert influence over the content so the letter illustrates your strengths; plays down your weaknesses; and fully presents an accurate picture of the real you.
Did Not Answer the Questions.
You won’t believe how may applicants fail to follow directions on the application! And this is one good reason why you should not use the same application for different schools. One way to check you’ve answered the question in your essay is to have someone read through it without knowing the original question. That way you can see if the person can guess the nature of the question. In addition, keep your answers interesting and use different approaches but make sure you get the points across. If you can’t follow directions on the application, how will you compete as an MBA student? To answer a question about your future plans, here’s a great tip: outline a future scenario where you already have your MBA. Detail how you arrived there and where you’re heading. Originality will set your application apart.
Failed to Address Weaknesses.
You don't have to be the perfect candidate, but don't think you can gloss over shortcomings on your record. Admissions committees are made up of people, who are understanding when it comes to a few glitches, so be sure to have reasonable explanations. Excuses are not explanations. If you offer an excuse you appear unwilling to accept responsibility for those shortcomings. You might want to mention ways in which you are presently working to turn a weakness into a strength moving forward. The best advice is to address things head-on, otherwise you give the committee the opportunity to come to their own conclusions that could be dangerous in the scheme of things.
Business schools highly value conduct and character. Often times confidence can be mistakenly interpreted as arrogance. So tread lightly here. High expectations exist for those accepted into MBA programs. Less-than-polite or juvenile behavior is offensive and unacceptable when you’re interacting with the MBA admissions office. Be courteous, accommodating, and professional to all you encounter. According to experts, admissions committees are ready to see something different. Your conduct, character and behavior could be your ticket to your first choice school.
While no candidate is perfect, minimizing any red flags in your application will give you a better shot at admission. So set aside some time for heavy thinking; avoid the 6 most common mistakes; and practice! There is no better prep for a solid, strategic, and exceptional application.
We recommend that you attend our free interactive MBA Admissions Webinars where you gain lots of further useful insight into the MBA Admissions process from our consultants who have worked on the other side of the table and evaluated candidates for top business schools. Good luck with your conquest for an MBA!