List of Recommendation Questions Published So Far

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The recommendations are among the most significant components of your application. Your candidacy will be stronger if the recommender prepares a specific recommendation for each university and responds to the specific recommendation questions each university presents.
Overall, strong relationships and close acquaintance with your recommenders are the key to acquiring effective recommendations. Such recommendations are essential for a successful application.

Many top MBA programs have already published the recommender questions for the Fall 2015 applications. Several schools have decided to stick to 2 common recommender questions this season, in order to make it easier for applicants to apply to more schools without having to trouble their recommenders too much.
Below is a list of recommender questions published so far with some instructions and guidelines (these are taken from the schools' websites; the actual questions on the online recommendation system may be slightly different):

 

Columbia

All first-time applications require two recommendations.
If you have been working full-time for at least six months, one recommendation should be from your current supervisor. If you are unable to secure a recommendation from your direct supervisor, please submit a statement of explanation in the Employment section of your application.
The second recommendation should be from either a former direct supervisor or from another professional associate, senior to you, who can share their insights on your candidacy.
If you are a college senior or have worked full-time for fewer than six months, at least one, but preferably both, of your recommendations should be from a person who can comment on your managerial abilities. You may ask a summer employer or another person whom you feel can objectively assess your professional promise. The second recommendation may be from a college professor.
Please be aware: The Admissions Committee requires that all application materials be submitted online, including recommendations. Applications are not considered complete until all required information is submitted; this includes recommendations.
Please note that reapplicants are required to submit one new recommendation. This recommendation must be from a recommender that you did not use in your previous application.
Please consider the following guidelines when writing your recommendation:

• How do the candidate’s performance, potential, background, or personal qualities compare to those of other well-qualified individuals in similar roles? Please provide specific examples.

• Please describe the most important piece of constructive feedback you have given the applicant. Please detail the circumstances and the applicant's response.

Please limit your recommendation to 1000 words.

 

Harvard

Please submit two recommendations (no more, no less!) from individuals who can speak directly about your professional performance and promise. The Admissions Committee suggests (but does not require) that one recommendation be from your direct supervisor. Sorry to repeat ourselves, but this is a guideline, not a requirement. We are very aware that not all candidates will be able to do this.
The other recommendation should be from someone who can comment on your leadership skills and/or potential; this may be a former supervisor, another professional associate, or a university professor. We don't have a strong preference for any particular type of recommender.
Find people who know you well enough to answer them! This should take priority over level of seniority or HBS alumni status. We don't give special consideration to recommendations written by HBS alums, and you don't need to have an HBS recommender to be admitted. (Most admitted students don't!)
Recommendations should be submitted online by the application deadlines. Applications are not considered complete until all required information is submitted; this includes recommendations.

Recommender Questions

Please respond to both questions below in a single document:

1. How do the applicant's performance, potential, background, or personal qualities compare to those of other well-qualified individuals in similar roles? Please provide specific examples. (Recommended: 300 words)

2. Please describe the most important piece of constructive feedback you have given the applicant. Please detail the circumstances and the applicant’s response. (Recommended: 250 words)

 

INSEAD

Two professional recommendation letters are required, providing information about your leadership and management potential. As such, at least one recommendation should come from your workplace; your current supervisor or manager is usually a good choice. The other recommendation should be from someone who has had a chance to evaluate you in a professional setting, for example, a client, a former supervisor or a colleague from your community service or extracurricular activities. Academic recommendations are acceptable but they are less likely to address our main interest, which is to assess your ability to work with and manage others as well as your potential for senior management. You will also be able to upload an optional third letter of recommendation as part of the supporting documents.
It is important to note that your recommenders cannot submit their letters to us if you have not already submitted your application. Therefore, we strongly encourage you to submit your application ahead of the deadline so that your recommenders can meet the deadline as well. Once you have submitted your application, the Admissions Team will “post it” within 2 business days. Your recommenders will then receive an e-mail notification prompting them to complete and submit their letters. If they cannot meet the application deadline, please note that they will have one extra week, within which to submit their completed recommendation.

Recommender Questions:

How long have you known the candidate? Define your relationship with the candidate and the circumstances whereby you met.

1. Comment on the candidate's career progress to date and his/her career focus.

2. What do you consider to be the candidate's major strengths? Comment on the factors that distinguish the candidate from other individuals at his/her level.

3. What do you consider to be the candidate’s major weaknesses?

4. Comment on the candidate’s potential for senior management. Do you see him/her as a future leader?

5. Describe the candidate as a person. Comment on his/her ability to establish and maintain relationships, sensitivity to others, self-confidence, attitude, etc. Specifically comment on the candidate's behaviour or skills in a group setting/team environment.

 

Ross - Michigan

One letter of recommendation is required (must be submitted online)

1. How do the candidate's performance, potential or personal qualities compare to those of other well-qualified individuals in similar roles? Please provide specific examples. (300 words)

2. Please describe the most important piece of constructive feedback you have given the applicant. Please detail the circumstances and the applicant's response. (250 words)

 

Sloan - MIT

MBA applicants must submit two letters of recommendation (in addition to your essay #2). Professional recommendations are preferred from individuals who are able to speak with certainty about your professional achievements and potential. Recommenders must submit recommendations online. We do not accept mailed recommendations. Recommendations may be in either letter or short answer format and should not exceed two pages each. Please note: We do not accept recommendations from family members.

Please choose recommenders who are able to provide specific answers to the following questions:

• How long and in what capacity have you known the applicant?
• How does the applicant stand out from others in a similar capacity?
• Please give an example of the applicant's impact on a person, group, or organization.
• Please give a representative example of how the applicant interacts with other people.
• Which of the applicant's personal or professional characteristics would you change?
• Please tell us anything else you think we should know about this applicant.

 

Stanford

Letters of Reference

Qualitative accounts of your behaviors, impact, and personal qualities are essential to our evaluation of your leadership potential. Your letters of reference should provide specific examples that illustrate your ability and desire to make a difference in the world.
Requirements

We request two letters of reference:

• One reference from your current direct supervisor (or next best alternative) at work
• Your choice of either one additional supervisor reference or one peer reference.

Both letters of reference must be submitted by the deadline of the round in which you apply.

Current Direct Supervisor Reference

You must obtain at least one recommendation from your current direct supervisor. We understand, however, that you may be in a situation that prevents you from providing a reference from your current direct supervisor. For example, you may:

• Be self-employed
• Work for a family business in which a family member is your supervisor
• Have begun a new position where your direct supervisor does not know you well
• Not have notified your direct supervisor that you are applying to business school

In this case, use your judgment in finding a source for your recommendation — a previous supervisor, an indirect manager, a client, a member of your board of directors, or any other individual who evaluates your work.
If you are unable to provide a letter from your current direct supervisor, include a brief note of explanation in the “Additional Information” section of the online application. Use your best judgment to choose an appropriate replacement.
If you are a college senior, you may use a direct supervisor from a summer, part-time, or internship position. Alternatively, you may ask someone who managed you in an extracurricular, research, volunteer, or community activity.

Second Reference

The second reference may come from either someone senior to you (i.e., someone who has evaluated or supervised your work) or from a peer (i.e., someone with whom you’ve interacted as an equal). This reference may come from someone at work or outside of work and may include your professional, community, or extracurricular experiences. We recognize that work environments are fluid, so we give you the option of choosing the person who can best represent your potential impact.

Choosing Your Recommenders

We are impressed by what a reference letter says, not by the title of the individual who wrote it or the writing skills of the recommender. You should choose individuals who:
• Know you well through significant, direct involvement with you within the last few years.
• Will provide detailed anecdotes and examples to support their assertions.
• Are truly enthused to write a recommendation for you and will spend sufficient time writing a thoughtful letter.

Both of your recommenders also will be asked to assess you on some competencies and character traits that contribute to successful leadership, and answer two questions.
We mandate that your first recommender comes from your current direct supervisor. We have no preference, however, between another supervisor and a peer for your second recommendation.

Submitting Letters of Reference

Your recommenders are required to submit their letters through the online application by the deadline of the round in which you apply. You are responsible for ensuring the letters are submitted on time. You will be able to see the status of each letter (either notified, started, or submitted) and also will be able to designate Stanford to send each recommender a reminder approximately a week before the application deadline date. Late letters of recommendation will not be reviewed with your application.

1. Register your recommenders. Go to the “Letters of Reference” tab on the application, and enter each recommender’s personal information carefully. It is essential that you enter the recommender’s email address correctly so that your recommender can access the instructions and form. Read the waiver statement for each letter of reference and determine whether or not you will waive your right to review each recommendation.
2. Your recommender receives an email with log in information.
3. Your recommender completes and submits his/her recommendation.
4. You and your recommender receive an email confirming the recommendation has been submitted.

If you do not have a recommendation from your current direct supervisor, provide a brief explanation in the “Additional Information” section of the application.
Do not email, mail, or fax letters of recommendation that have already been submitted through the online application.

Information for Recommenders - Letter of Recommendation Guidelines

The letter you submit should address the prompts listed in the Stanford application; outdated or general letters do not strengthen a candidate’s application. Be sure your letter is:
• A maximum of three pages
• Double-spaced
• Formatted using 12-point type. Arial, Courier, and Times New Roman are the recommended fonts.

Your letter of reference should be submitted in English. If you think your English is not sufficient to convey complex ideas, write the letter in your native language, and then have it translated into English. The translation can be performed by a friend, a colleague, or a paid service — but not by the applicant or the applicant’s friend or family member.
In addition to your qualitative responses, we will ask you to assess some competencies and character traits that contribute to successful leadership.

Questions We Ask You

Below is the specific information that you should include in your recommendation.

1. How do the candidate’s performance, potential, or personal qualities compare to those of other well-qualified individuals in similar roles? Please provide specific examples.

2. Describe the most important piece of constructive feedback you have given the applicant. Please detail the circumstances and the applicant’s response.

 

Stern - NYU

Please note the following details when completing the Recommendations section of the online application.

Two recommendations are required with your application. Professional recommendations are strongly preferred over academic recommendations. One recommendation must come from your current supervisor. If a recommendation from your current supervisor cannot be included, you must provide an explanation in optional Essay 3.
Recommendations should come from individuals who can objectively assess your professional performance and your potential for success in Stern's MBA program and in your future career. Recommendations from family members, family friends and close friends are discouraged.
You are required to have all of your recommendations submitted online. Our online application will prompt you to electronically send your recommenders instructions for completing and submitting our online Recommendation Form. View or download the Recommendation Form for use as a reference only.
If your recommender cannot submit an online recommendation, you must email sternmba@stern.nyu.edu to explain the circumstances and request approval for your recommender to submit a paper recommendation. If your recommender cannot complete a recommendation in English, he/she will need to complete a paper recommendation. The recommender will then need to have the recommendation translated into English. A certified English translation through a translating service must be obtained and submitted in a sealed envelope with the original recommendation, endorsed across the seal.
Submitting more than two recommendations is not necessary but allowed. Any recommendations in addition to the required two should provide the Admissions Committee with a unique perspective not provided by your first two recommenders.

 

Wharton

The Admissions Committee requires two letters of recommendation, preferably from supervisors. The recommendation questions for the Class of 2017 are:

1. How do the candidate's performance, potential, or personal qualities compare to those of other well-qualified individuals in similar roles? Please provide specific examples. (300 words)

2. Please describe the most important piece of constructive feedback you have given the applicant. Please detail the circumstances and the applicant's response. (250 words)

 

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