How A Top School Screens MBA Applicants

Bailey Daniels, assistant director of MBA admissions


“Almost all of us at the table have met her,” says Bailey Daniels, who is assigned the folders of applicants from the U.S., Eastern Europe and those interested in Rotman’s JD-MBA dual degree program. “She is from Russia but she is living in New York. Sheldon originally met her in September. I met her in November. Niki met her in December, and Niki actually conducted her interview when she was there.

“Let me tell you about Valeria. She is 25, with a bachelor of architecture from Russia, a 3.9 GPA and a 650 GMAT score. So she is getting close to the average.

“Nice,” says da Silva quietly.

“She was working in Moscow as an architect and then moved to New York and did work with an architectural firm there as well,” continues Daniels. “She left in August because she wanted a career change. She has very good communication skills. Her references are very strong. Niki gave her a 14 on the interview. She wants to come to Rotman because she is interested in business design like many of our candidates are. And we like to have those kinds of people in the program. She’s solid overall.”

“She brings good life experience, too,” says Gumus. “Russia. New York. And then Canada, too. I think that’s the difference.”

“She does,” acknowledges Daniels. “And in the future she wants to do business development in the real estate field but her long term goal is to launch a construction materials retail chain in Russia and invest in real estate projects there. She wants to do the Home Depot of Russia so she has the entrepreneurial bug.”

“It sounds like she would add some nice diversity to the class,” says Roy.

Agrees da Silva, “She sounds like someone who would add to her team and the class. She has that kind of diversity we want built into the class.”

“Her family has a construction business so she has this in her background,” continues Daniels. “She has been working with them since the age of 14.”

“That’s really interesting,” says da Silva. “She has construction/real estate/architecture backgrounds. I didn’t rate her interview above average but she is in a solid, good category. She has a fascinating life story and interesting exposure in a family construction business as a young woman and seemed passionate about it. Her father was her inspiration to go into architecture. Her work is a little bit more individually oriented so it is harder to give her a stronger interview rating. I think she will do quite well here.”

“She is passionate about the arts,” adds Daniels, “she enjoys working out, and she says in her essay that her experience in New York has taught her that there is nothing she can’t do.”

“I like it,” adds Paterson.

“That is a great attitude,” affirms Cruz.

“I remember that she taught herself English,” adds Dookeran.

“She is a good candidate for the venture lab we’re opening next year,” says Gumus. “She can run her Home Depot for Russia idea there.”

The meeting ends abruptly as da Silva gathers up the red folders of the approved applicants under her arm. As these things go, it’s a winning afternoon. Six applicants gain a yes, and only one gets turned down. The average GMAT of the candidates who will get phone calls from Rotman as a result of this session is 687, 14 points above last year’s 673 average.

But there are already another 260 more folders in the house to be read and evaluated, hundreds of interview sessions to schedule, and three more application deadlines to go until the final decisions are handed to this year’s hopefuls by the end of June.

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