The MBA Gatekeeper To Yale’s School of Management

Bruce DelMonico of Yale SOM

What happens when MBA applicants are evaluated by video?

People who are taller and better looking are generally perceived to be more competent, according to research by social psychologists.

Bruce DelMonico, the assistant dean and director of admissions for Yale University’s School of Management, knows this phenomena well. But in requiring that all of the school’s applicants answer video questions this year for the first time, he believes that bias won’t be a problem.

“We are not looking for attractiveness,” he says. “We are really trying to evaluate people on how well they can articulate their thoughts. I try to distinguish between polish and professionalism.”

DelMonico, whose boyish looks belie the fact that he has served four deans at SOM for the past nine years, says he is introducing the new video test to add a new “data point” to gain a little more insight into the people who apply to the school. It’s one of several changes in the School of Management’s consensus-driven admissions process where everyone on the admissions committee must agree to accept a candidate before that person is admitted.

He has reduced the number of admissions essays to two from four, eliminated the TOEFL requirement for international applicants and added three random video questions to be answered online. Each candidate will get 10 to 20 seconds to think about a response to a question and then roughly a minute to answer.

Screen Shot 2013-09-05 at 9.11.18 AMThanks to a 10% increase in MBA applications in the past year, DelMonico admitted a record number of MBA students–291, up from 249 a year earlier, in anticipation of the move to a new business school building that opens in January. A greater percentage of the latest incoming class are international, 32% versus 27% in the previous year, a nod to Dean Edward ‘Ted” Snyder’s desire to make SOM more global. Depending on the quality of the pool this coming admissions cycle, DelMonico might well admit a class of 300 next year.

Like many of his colleagues, he came to admissions via a circuitous route. As DelMonico puts it, “When you are in third grade and asked what you want to do with your life, being an admissions officer is not up there with fireman and police officer.” He has degrees from three prestige universities: Brown, where he majored in English and wrote a thesis on the metaphysical poets of the 17th century; the University of Texas at Austin where he earned a master’s in English in 1994, and the University of Virginia where DelMonico became a lawyer in 1997. In both college and law school, he had done selection work and the idea of recruiting and evaluating talent stayed with him.

After working as an attorney for seven years, he came to Yale in October of 2004 as the deputy director of admissions. Two years later, he was named director.

DelMonico will move his staff into the new building in the second half of December after the release of their round one admission decisions. In a wide-ranging interview with Poets&Quants, DelMonico reveals how admissions at SOM works, what kind of tough calls the committee has to make, why he thinks in-person interviews are of limited value, and what he’s hoping to get from the new video test.

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