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Bad weakness - something serious that will likely hinder you during your MBA and post-MBA life (procrastination) Good weakness - something minor that many people have that can be improved upon during your MBA (more effective feedback to team members)
In the very laissez-faire approach that I specialize in, I still have no idea what my recommender's wrote on those forms. I found ti awkward to think I could, or ought, to coach people significantly senior to me in years and achievement on what to do.
Sorry that I can't help, but it reminded me, and I think the population that leave things be are rather non-vocal about their approach.
You need to be careful in interpreting the question here, some schools ask two distinct questions: "How could the applicant improve professionally," in which case saying something along the lines of what cpgmba said is useful, and "If you could change one thing about the applicant, what would it be?" For the latter, the recommenders need to point out a personal shortcoming that may prevent you from reaching your managerial potential. I would do some introspection and tell them about what you think your biggest weakness is and see if they agree with it, but leave them the option of going with something completely different based on their perception.
Everyone has character flaws, and an MBA isn't going to fix them. So trying to evade the issue here by saying "oh yeah, applicant X could do more of Y and an MBA will help him resolve this...." isn't quite going to pass muster.
The best weaknesses are those that an MBA program can address. Like others have said, you want to be careful with character flaws that are difficult to fix.
Regardless, my gut tells me that the fault needs to be very subtle to be on the safe side. Reason being, let's say recommender writes that applicant x could work on 'communicating more effectively' now i think this is going to hurt one's candidacy. Whereas: applicant X is a perfectionist, which sometimes causes him to spend too much on certain tasks. I believe latter is green light weakness and former is red light weakness.
I find it strange, if the recommendations are supposed to be honest then why bother, let them write the truth. I mean everyone has weaknesses and this seems weird that we tinker with the answers. I understand that is the way the system works, I am in the same boat, I don't know what what my recommenders would write as weaknesses and still not hurth the application.
I don't think you should tell your recommenders what to write. Instead, select recommenders who know you well and want the best for you, so they'd know how to answer such question without harming your admission chances.
Really, how can one have NO weaknesses? This part is really not right. I think the Bschool should let real weaknesses be said. But then if one starts talking about interpersonal skills etc. then it is a killer. So one has to pick weaknesses that are not-so-weak.. Its funny.
I think having an honest and open discussion with your recommender is probably pretty important if you're applying to top schools. It could mean the difference between "Person X doesn't communicate well" to "Person X had difficulty communicating his ideas with his international team mates, but over the course of the project he learned patience and how to navigate the intricacies of group dynamics." Maybe a bad example, but you know what I mean. Nuances count. No matter how difficult it is to have those honest conversations, being rejected is probably going to be more difficult.
Like 3_ I didn't coach my recommenders at all. I guess I buy the adcom line that they can sniff out insincerity, and so I've chosen to stand out by trusting them and letting them be honest (assuming of course that they understand not to write about my pathological lying and inability to get along with teammates).
Then again, I'm 0 for 1 so far with my apps, so check in with me in a few months to see how this strategy went
handsoff strategy works I guess.. I just don't know how far to meddle with the LOR, I hear lots of people say it has got to be 2-3 pages long with specific stuff etc.. who knows, but clearly if someone says something negative it would hurt, would it not? I just do not know the right answer, perhaps best to leave it indeed.
I'm not sure about the views of hands-off.. especially if you have not worked a lot with the recommender recently (e.g. from previous job), I think it does not hurt to remind them of what you've done with them in terms of projects, what advice/suggestions they gave you in your career/work and how you did/implemented them. I think jogging their memory and guiding the output is a fine line, but the former is probably a good idea and appreciated, if not, you end up with recos that might say
"XYZ is a great team player, an asset to my team and is a great candidate for ABC School". Problem, bschools can swap XYZ with anyone else and still see the exact same reco, there is nothing unique. Offering the relevant soundbites/thoughts or even a candid "I cannot seem to be able to emphasize my teamwork abilities too well in my essays, can you perhaps highlight them" is not wrong in my books.
One of my recommenders this year (I'm a reapp) told me, let's talk about what aspects of your application you want to focus on and make sure I don't have to do this again! Anyhow, let's see how it pans out this year!
I personally feel recommendations should be done away with. Or at least shouldn't be mandatory. I didn't coach my evaluators because I work in an industry where egos are high and I didn't want to look like I know how to write recos and they don't I feel it's not fair that some people will be completely honest while some won't be. If I do get dinged everywhere, I'll probably elaborate why I feel so. I wanted to apply for something else where I need academic recos, but I can't get it because of my stand with one prof. But that doesn't mean that I won't be professionally successful.
I feel it's not fair that a door shuts down completely on me because I rubbed someone the wrong way once. Adcoms need to be more objective and should look at other +ve factors as well.
i did meddle with my recommendations to the extent of knowing what they put in them. my recommendations were honest about my weaknesses - my manager said i needed to deal better with conflict, need to learn more about business and strategy, and need to be more comfortable with impromptu swagger filled bullshit talk in the business environment. and oh, for what needs to be changed about me, he said i had tremendous drive, but needed to develop more patience.
so far i have been dinged 2/4 without interview calls. while i do attribute some of it to my essays, i cant help but think the recs played their part...
for round 2 i have had my honest conversations, and have asked them to dumb my weaknesses down a few notches...
At almost every info session, adcoms tell of recommenders (15-20% odd) who do not provide positive recommendations. People - this is a recommendation and ought to be overall supportive of the candidate. Having a frank conversation with recommender about your priorities and discussing perceived weakness and strengths is absolutely necessary. This is mostly about making sure a deal breaker comment in a reco stays out and your application exhibits some consistency. This is supposed to be a reco not a critique.
Re: Recommendation-Perceived weakness
01 Dec 2010, 06:34