Why B-Schools Reject MBA Applicants


How To Get A Rejection Letter


1 plagiarized essay

2 lukewarm references

3 exaggerated accomplishments

1 cup of half-baked goals

1 tablespoon of entitlement

A quarter pound of proofreading errors

Stir in pan and bake at 425 degrees for 20 minutes.

And voila! You have a rejection letter.

Ever wonder why a business school drops candidates? Recently, Accepted.com asked the admissions directors at 13 business schools the following question: “What behavior or information would cause you to reject an MBA applicant who otherwise is a strong candidate?” Not surprisingly, lying and poor interpersonal skills topped the list. However, some other themes emerged, such as neediness and vague career goals. So what hazards should you avoid? Here are some insights in the words of admissions directors themselves:


”Finding out that the applicant lied on their application (i.e., not being truthful about a position, title, transcript etc., or not disclosing a lay-off, being fired, etc.) or did not disclose a criminal conviction.”

– Shari Hubert, Associate Dean of Admissions, Georgetown McDonough


“Whilst it is important to sell yourself on your application, it is important to remain true to yourself and your achievements. When a candidate goes overboard trying to sell themselves, it raises a few eyebrows. We double check our applications, and if we find out that a candidate has been less than honest about the scale of his or her achievements – even if it was all in the name of making themselves sound a more appealing candidate – we will not be best impressed.”

Clear Interest In The School

“Another key factor in a candidate’s application is coherence. We want to attract the best, most driven candidates, and so their motivation in applying for HEC Paris MBA has to be clear. It is completely normal for a candidate to apply for more than one business school, but when someone just blindly applies to the top 25 without thinking about whether that school offers the best experience for them and their professional aspirations, it doesn’t motivate us to accept them.”

– Philippe Oster, Communication, Development & Admissions Director, HEC Paris MBA

Cultural Fit

“Every communication and information point is a valuable addition to our assessment of a candidate. We have a set of values that define us as a learning community and we look for evidence that candidates are aligned with those when assessing their fit for our school. We do not seek out behaviour to exclude applicants but instead actively seek to champion evidence that a candidate has the right ‘cultural fit’ for LBS. That is to say they demonstrate they are communal, open and engaged. We also look for candidates who we feel are likely to play an enduring role in the schools future.”

– Oliver Ashby, Senior Manager, Recruitment & Admissions, MBA Programme, London Business School

“…if we feel that the person has career goals that are simply not feasible, whether because of their lack of essential work experience, their interpersonal skills, or maybe because they want something that we don’t feel our program can help them with. We talk very frankly and honestly with applicants whose goals don’t seem to align with their experience. We explain that we want them to get a job and that we will do everything we can to help, but they may need to be flexible and be willing to work very hard to get into something they just don’t have the background for. We feel this is the only ethical way to do business – to set people up for success.”

– Christie St. John, Director of Admissions, Vanderbilt Owen


“We are looking for people who value the contribution and unique skills/experiences others can bring and admitting candidates who believe they are superior to others is far too damaging to the culture to be considered. This arrogance can come across in an admissions interview, sometimes in an essay, and also in reference letters.”

– Niki da Silva, Director, Recruitment & Admissions, Full Time MBA, Toronto Rotman


“I’m continually amazed by how some applicants every year are rude, either directly to me, or to members of the Admissions team. Examples are things like signing up for events and not attending, short, terse emails, or canceling a class visit or interview at the last minute and expecting the admissions team to be able to accommodate you at your convenience (amazingly – expecting a class visit when there are not classes, like Fridays.”

– Sara E. Neher, Assistant Dean of MBA Admissions, Virginia Darden


“Candidate has been excessive in contacting the admissions office and requesting individual attention. Too many inquiries, too many requests for one-on-one meetings or phone calls – beyond that which is appropriate. Note that we encourage candidates to engage with us. I’m referring here only to those people whose demands for individual attention are unreasonable.”

– Sherry Wallace, Director of Admissions, UNC Kenan Flagler

To read about other potential deal breakers, click on the link below.

Source: Accepted.com

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