Share this article
JANUARY 14, 2016
1) Set yourself a time line for completion of your application file and stick to it
All reputable schools will all ask for GMAT/GRE so fix your test date before you complete your application form and work towards it. If you push it off or if you wait until you have completed the rest of your application file, the chances are the test centres near you will be full. For your application file, set a timeline with different dates by which you intend to complete your essay, get your transcripts or contact referees. Make sure your referees are also aware of any deadlines.
2) Avoid admissions agents
So-called MBA consultants or representatives will lure you into a feeling of security through knowledgeable presentations of different MBA programmes in supposed orientation meetings., most of these are in fact simple agents, commissioned by schools to sell their MBA programme in particular. You risk being oriented to the school that pays them the highest fee regardless of its suitability instead of the one with the best fit for your profile and aspirations. Get in touch with the admissions office, speak to alumni and make your own decision.
3) Adapt your essays/motivation letter to each school
Don’t use a one-essay-fits-all approach. Look closely at the school’s curriculum and website to find elements unique to that school and match them to your specific needs. This will prove you have done the necessary research and are genuinely interested in that specific school. Don’t forget to mention exactly why you want to do an MBA – it should be clear you are using it as a tool to advance in your career, not just a goal in itself.
4) Don’t go over the word limit in essays
Limits are given to measure language efficiency and test how efficient you can be. Get the key points across in a concise manner. You’ll have time to develop ideas further in the interview.
5) Highlight any international experience both in your CV and essays
This includes studies abroad/double culture upbringing/work in international teams/languages spoken and even holidays abroad. With the MBA classroom becoming increasingly international, schools want proof of international awareness and adaptability to other cultures. Don’t hesitate to add a section in your CV entitled “International Exposure”.
6) Put forward your strengths - don’t draw attention to your weaknesses
An MBA application form is like a competition where those who sell themselves best, win. However avoid bragging or exaggerating. Analyse your strengths and moderate the way you put them forward. On the other hand, if you got a low grade for your Economics class in the second last year of study, don’t draw attention to it by trying to explain why. The chances are that if your other grades are high, it will go unnoticed anyway. Have an excuse ready though, just in case it does come up in interview.
7) Choose referees who know you well
Choose someone you can trust and who knows you well enough to paint a good picture of who you are what your qualities are. Don’t be tempted to write the reference yourself then ask your referee to sign as you will usually end up being found out!
8) Show how you can contribute to the learning of others
You have a limited opportunity to sell yourself in your application so make sure the school understands how you will bring something different to the classroom and why they actually need you. Put forward both the hard and soft skills you possess which can be useful in a classroom context.
9) Re-read your application
It sounds obvious but do take time to review what you have written. Schools often receive applications with the wrong school name or reference letters in which an “I” has been used instead of the third person. Ask someone to re-read as a double check.
10) In the interview be professional, positive and energizing
The interview is not just a background check but a way of checking how well you will fit with the rest of the class and the general culture of the school. Schools generally seek a vibrant learning atmosphere so prove through your bright replies that you will be a valued contributor to any class discussions.
The list of MBA application tips is endless but the only real key to a successful application is to be yourself and do your best. If you aren’t accepted in the school of your choice, it’s probably because wasn’t the right school for you in the first place. Apply to a shortlist of your best-matched schools and at least one of them will be right for you. Read our tips on choosing your MBA .