How A Top School Screens MBA Applicants

Afrodite Cruz, assistant director of MBA admissions


Afrodite Cruz steps forward with her applicant, a 25-year-old Canadian woman. Cruz has been working in admissions since 2003. She joined Rotman six years ago and has recruited students in South East Asia, the U.S. and Canada.

“I am also presenting someone who I am recommending as an admit,” Cruz starts. “She is Liza, has three years of work experience, mainly in marketing and communications. She is a special project coordinator at an agency in Windsor. Liza has a 4.0 from the University of Windsor in communications studies.

“Her GMAT was 620, so nothing outstanding considering that her grades were all As throughout her four years. That doesn’t worry me. The highlight of her application for me was her interview. I actually ranked her 20 out of 20.”

“Wow,” says Paterson.

“This is the best interview that I have had this year so far and one of the best interviews I have had in all my time at Rotman,” continues Cruz. “She was fantastic.”

“To be totally candid, I wouldn’t have guessed that based on her resume,” counters da Silva.

“She did the video so could you look her up,” says Cruz. “You guys will like her video and actually she gave a quirky answer to her second question which made me like her more.”

The candidate’s video pops up on the screen and she describes herself as energetic fun loving, driven, motivated, and passionate.

“She has a very natural presence,” says da Silva.

“She looks like she would fit in quite well,” adds Roy.

“What’s your sense of her quant ability because her GMAT score is lower?” asks da Silva.

“Her degree in communications doesn’t give you confidence in her quant skills,” observes Dookeran.

“Well,” says Cruz, “she wants to stay in marketing, branding and communications. So she is not going to be a career switcher and at the end of the interview she asked me about some of the pre-courses that we offer to help students who don’t come from a business background. So she is willing to come to Toronto beforehand and take some of those classes.”

“Good,” says da Silva. “The fact that she is that self-aware says a lot about her.”

“Those workshops will give her the fundamentals so she should survive in her first year,” adds Gumus.

“What were the references like?” asks Paterson.

“Very good,” replies Cruz. “When I spoke to her and saw the video this is exactly who I hoped to see. The referees painted a very accurate picture. Some of the things I cut out of the references were: ‘She is extremely self-aware and mature and comes across as genuine. She is well put together, a good communicator. She works well with others and her work is well beyond her experience…one of the most intelligent people I have ever met….an excellent team player with excellent leadership skills.’”

“Very good,” observes Gumus. “And the team will also help her with the quant skills.”

“Based on my observations, her essays, and what her referees have said, I recommend that we admit her,” finishes Cruz. “We would be lucky to have her. I think she’s going to be one of the people who will represent the school very well.

“Agreed,” says da Silva. “She is very solid. I like her perspective. Who goes next?”

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