Columbia Business School Recommendation Questions

If you’re an MBA applicant to Columbia Business School, what does admissions expect to hear from your two required recommenders?

If you have been working full-time for at least six months, Columbia believes that one recommendation should be from your current supervisor. The second recommendation should be from either a former direct supervisor or from another professional associate, senior to you, who can add personal insight into your candidacy.

If you are a college senior or have worked full-time for less than six months, at least one, but preferably both, of your recommendations should be from a person who can comment on your managerial abilities. Columbia says you can ask a summer employer or another person who you feel can objectively assess your professional promise. The second recommendation may be from a college professor.

Recommendation questions include:

  • What is your relationship to and how long have you known the applicant? Is he or she still employed by your organization?
  • Please list three to five adjectives describing the applicant’s strengths.
  • Please compare the applicant’s performance to that of his or her peers.
  • What does the applicant do best?
  • If you were giving feedback to the applicant regarding his or her professional performance and personal effectiveness, in what areas would you suggest he or she work to improve?
  • How does the applicant accept constructive criticism or handle conflicts?
  • How effective are the applicant’s interpersonal skills in the workplace?
  • Please rate the applicant’s individual vs. team orientation (1 = most effective as an individual contributor; 5 = focused exclusively on the team)
Please elaborate on your rating:
  • Please give an example of how the applicant has demonstrated leadership.
  • Is there anything else you feel we should know?

About the Author...

John A. Byrne

John A. Byrne is the founder and editor-in-chief of C-Change Media, publishers of Poets&Quants and four other higher education websites. He has authored or co-authored more than ten books, including two New York Times bestsellers. John is the former executive editor of Businessweek, editor-in-chief of Businessweek. com, editor-in-chief of Fast Company, and the creator of the first regularly published rankings of business schools. As the co-founder of CentreCourt MBA Festivals, he hopes to meet you at the next MBA event in-person or online.