How Recruiters Rank Business Schools By Industry & Skill Set


Every recruiter carries a mental list of their favorite schools. They won’t admit to that, of course. But they know which schools share their values, screen out miscast candidates, and nurture the right attitudes and aptitudes for their company culture. Sure, every program develops standouts – but few can consistently produce the best and brightest without fail.


Indeed, the holy grail of MBA recruiting is a consistent track record. And some schools fare better than others in particular companies. Take McKinsey and Bain, the crème de la crème of business consulting. A 2014 Poets&Quants study found that such prestige programs as Harvard, Wharton, and Kellogg had the highest concentration of MBAs in both of these firms. That’s not surprising, considering these are three of the five largest U.S. full-time MBA programs (where, between a quarter and a third of graduates enter consulting traditionally).

However, this numbers game doesn’t fully explain why graduates from smaller MBA programs at Texas (McCombs), Indiana (Kelley), and Michigan (Ross) represent the largest proportion of MBAs at Deloitte – nearly a third more than Harvard, Wharton, and Kellogg combined. Some might argue that there are fewer available candidates from these latter programs once they’ve been gobbled up by McKinsey and Bain. And that plays into it, no doubt. But this discrepancy could also stem from something else: recruiter sentiment. As part of its annual business school rankings, Bloomberg Businessweek gauges  recruiter opinions about the programs that feed their talent pools. According to its 2016 Job Skills Report, Michigan (Ross) and Texas (McCombs) actually earned higher cumulative marks from consulting recruiters than Harvard, Wharton, and Kellogg – with Indiana (Kelley) nipping Harvard as well.

There are several factors that play into why some programs are more popular than others with recruiters. Certainly, industry expertise, cultural fit, availability, and price tag are among them. However, for the first time, Bloomberg Businessweek has broken out school-specific data by industry and skill set. Based on survey data from 1,251 recruiters at 547 companies in 2015, the data takes a far deeper dive than simply slapping a flat 3.1 recruiter score (on a 5.0 scale) to a particular school. Instead, the numbers show exactly what recruiters are seeking – and exactly how schools are stacking up in these areas.


Mind you, the data isn’t flawless. It’s not unusual, for example, for several of the more prestigious recruiters of MBA talent, such as McKinsey and Goldman Sachs, to refuse to complete Businessweek’s surveys. As a result, it’s entirely possible that the views of major consumers of MBAs may be missing from the data set (particularly when over 15,000 recruiters declined to respond to the survey and Businessweek does not make public the companies that do respond). Their absence can badly skew the results in a way that makes them far less authoritative, causing even silly and nonsensical outcomes.

In addition, the survey includes scores from several recruiters who are representing the same company, which may artificially boost (or undercut) a given school’s score. It’s well known, for instance, that larger recruiters of MBA graduates typically send alums of schools back to campus to host info sessions and interview students for their companies. Not surprisingly, they are likely to name their alma maters when they fill out Businessweek’s survey.

Weight also plays a role. As you’d imagine, some industries participated more in Bloomberg Businessweek’s employer survey than others. For example, the top three respondents came from the financial services (21.9%), consulting (20.9%) and technology (14.8%) sectors – with manufacturing (8.4%), consumer products (8.2%), health care (6.4%) and energy (6.3%) bringing up the rear. As a result, some industry scores are based on more recruiter responses than others.

So why share the results? Because they’re downright interesting, sometimes entertaining, and still provide valuable insights from companies that largely make the MBA market. It’s another puzzle piece to help MBA applicants choose the right school for themselves.


So how do schools fare in particular industries? Let’s start with the aforementioned consulting industry. Among Top 25 programs, that honor technically belongs to the University of Washington (Foster) with a 4.4 score. But that comes with a caveat – it was based on the scores of only five responses (confirming our earlier point about how badly flawed some of these results can be). Another interpretation of the data might very well be that Foster receives little attention from consulting firm recruiters. The same principle plays out at Notre Dame (Mendoza), where a 4.13 average is based off 15 recruiter responses. That leaves the University of Chicago (Booth) – the top-ranked U.S. MBA program overall according to recruiters. Recruiters, as a whole, awarded Booth with the top mean score of 3.83, where 51 of 190 recruiters gave it the highest score of five (with another 69 firms ranking it as a four).

That’s not an easy feat. At Booth, 32% of its graduates enters consulting, meaning the school must deliver top-to-bottom excellence, quality in quantity if you will. Based on the data, Booth is pulling it off with aplomb. Unfortunately, this impressive performance has had little tangible impact for Booth graduates. (beyond giving them the benefit of the doubt in interviews). Despite scoring higher in consulting than all other comers, Boothies  still receive the same $140,000 starting base and $25,000 bonus as every other top school (though they did merit a $5,000 raise in base salary over the previous year).

Kellogg bears a similar burden as Booth, with 35% of its most recent graduating class choosing consulting. Despite Kellogg’s well-earned reputation as a destination for future consultants, it also scored lower than Booth at 3.53 based on 221 responses. More telling, fewer consulting recruiters considered Kellogg to be a five star program compared to Booth by a 51-to-29 margin. Two other programs known for their consulting prowess, Tuck and INSEAD, also earned unexpectedly-lower mean marks of 3.41 and 3.39 respectively (though Tuck attracted only a tepid 70 responses). Those are far lower grades than Darden (3.9), UCLA Anderson (3.8), Haas (3.66), and Texas McCombs (3.78).  Notably, INSEAD was hobbled by over half of respondents (89 of 163) giving it a mediocre score of three. At the same time, Tuck was doomed by just two recruiters bestowing a five, the highest possible score.

If recruiter scores indicate the depth and intensity of interest in particular school, than the number of responses would also suggest the breadth and volume of interest. While Booth topped all comes in the former, Harvard won on volume with 249 surveys, with Kellogg (221) and Booth (190) trailing behind.

To see how recruiters ranked American consulting firms and both domestic and international financial services firms, go to next page.

  • Aheads Up

    these classifications make no sense. the most important variable for a business school should be ROI. creating artificial variables makes no sense since this is supposed to be Business thinking. fact is, if you consider the ROI the American MBA’s don’t make it in the top 40 worldwide. another important variable is the level of academic knowledge acquired by the students. most so called top American mba’s accept students who don’t really need the business education, as they have acquired that knowledge either through other programs (such as masters in finance) or work experience or both. most students attend these top American mba’s to create contacts and to put a name on their resume. there is little or no new knowledge they acquired. these classifications help the so called top institutions to charge more and more every year. lastly, what are the societal benefits coming from greaduates from these top American mbas? look at the income gap and that way you understand what these top American mbas teach – most graduates would fail Sociology 101 – that comes as no surprise since these schools do not care about people skills, social skills or powerful communications skills. a pitiful state of affair.

  • MBA-Watch

    bastard. ..

  • C. Taylor

    If you flame LBS now, you’ll have three out of three. (-:

    btw, I hope you are a capitalist. We need more and you seem like a decent guy.

  • C. Taylor

    If you flame LBS now, you’ll have three out of three. (-:

  • MBA-Watch

    It is common that IMD people show weird behave !

  • C. Taylor

    IMD and Insead are the top two one year programs. At IMD only 39% changed function, geography, and industry. The comparable statistic for Insead is 26%. These numbers are clearly listed in their employment reports.

    This is clearly not an instance of Simpson’s paradox. Your outcome is the expected outcome for more extreme switch attempts. As for banking, the bulk of Insead grads going into financial services already had experience in financial services. This is, again, not paradoxical.

  • C. Taylor

    Inseadsux wrote: “I must have made 200 separate inquires, not a single interview.”

    Thanks. Puts it in context. BCG alone has 87 offices.

  • Inseadsux

    I believe that the problem is more extensive than 5% of the class. Based on my experience up to 20% of the class get a very bad deal from INSEAD. However large the problem, it is clearly hidden by a Simpson’s paradox. You are right, INSEAD knows about this problem and they are comfortable with it. If you are a career changer; particularly a native English speaker you need to be very careful with this product – you do not want to be in my situation.

    The only time I heard from the careers service at INSEAD was approaching the 3 month mark. Every day they would call or email to get ‘the latest update on my situation’. One day I missed replying; the following day I was told that I had been placed in the non-responder list, just because I had not responded to the last communication attempt! At the end they were calling twice a day, they were trying to find any opportunity to put me on the not responder list.

  • Inseadsux

    Dear C Taylor,

    Am saying that I had a chat with one person who led IBanking recruitment at one of the banks and that is what she told me. My message is that INSEAD is just not that well regarded in the job market. I spent one year job hunting, initially very focused on strategy consulting; as time passed I widened my search. I have a solid network and as in this example I was able to chat with the right person. Even with a good network, one year post INSEAD I had not landed a single interview – in total at the end of the year I must have made 200 separate inquires, not a single interview.

    Given that you are upset that I had a chat with someone you deem inappropriate can I ask you what is your platform? I have an INSEAD MBA and I don’t want anyone else to make that mistake. Do you have an MBA or what schools are you applying to? I see that you often post career advice – what experience do you have in this field? Do you have any career management certification(s)? Your responses are so ‘black and white’ and point to a lack of experience. As if someone that was job hunting in the post MBA market would not want to chat with a friend of a friend that ran IB recruitment at one of the banks; that makes no sense. As you grow up and mature you will learn that the world is full of grey areas and where you can maybe add value is by using your experience to help people navigate through those grey areas. You have so much to learn, why don’t you take out an enormous loan and spend your life’s savings on a product that was not as advertised to see what you can learn from that? Why even pick a fight with someone, that’s naive and immature. I have experience of INSEAD and you do not, so how would you know?

  • C. Taylor

    It’s the beauty of markets and the splendor of capitalist pursuits. This is what MBA ‘factories’ are about. Don’t contract a factory to produce a Tesla which only travels 160 miles down the expressway when you wanted an eighteen wheeler which travels 1,600 miles down the expressway. Choice is beautiful, not tragic. It is the product you pay for which fits your goals. The ‘price’? About the same for either.

    Which adds more value to your pursuits? Hauling freight or whisking silently from restaurant to restaurant?

  • MBA-Watch

    be specific please, how did you came into the conclusion that i seem to be anti capitalism? from my first post, what exactly in it led you to such judgment? ! ..

  • C. Taylor

    Jobs are not given because you ‘deserve’ them, They are seized through the planning and execution of multiyear strategies. An MBA program must factor into this. If that is not the case, it doesn’t add value to your career trajectory; id est, you should have selected an appropriate option.

    If the MBA pond at Insead is too big for your tastes, find a smaller one. Wharton is an MBA factory, churning out refined grads hot on the trail of their individual careers. Just as the same assembly line of robots can produce many different cars, an MBA experience can be tailored to your career.

    Marxist descriptions of factories as soul sucking parasites advancing inequality are rooted in a time before the indisputable march of productivity under capitalism set a new future for the human race. Thanks to capitalism, we are now on the brink of an era where science fiction becomes reality. Robot cooks, check. printed wrench set, check, self-driving car, check, curing old age–working on it.

  • MBA-Watch

    and the ” anti-capitalism ” point… ?

  • C. Taylor

    Relax. Your numbers don’t add up.

    For the class of 2015, Stanford reported 86% accepted jobs by three months out. That’s 244 grads out of 283 seeking jobs. There were 396 grads in total. Of those reporting salary info, Stanford found 87% provided info useful enough to include in its career stats.

    Of those 244 who accepted jobs, 212–or 87%–reported usable salary info to Stanford. So salary data for Stanford is based on 54% of the class. Don’t take this as a reason to freak out about Stanford now. Instead, take it as a reason to accept Insead’s report is normal for an elite MBA program. And very transparent.

  • MBA-Watch

    Thanks for the reply. I am not sure I made my point clear! I meant that it is normal and expected to find the bottom 10% or so of any MBA program not achieving their career goal or what they were expecting, and that will be very obvious in case of INSEAD because it is the largest full time MBA program worldwide, 10% means 100 grads at least a year most likely will nothing. It is very normal to find cases like “inseadsux” speak out and protest. INSEAD knows this very well and they are fine with it. as for the employment report, keep in mind that although INSEAD publish one of the most transparent employment reports, however I look into it with careful readings, and I don’t want prospective students to get trapped by the impressive numbers, for example, when they say 95% got jobs 3 months out, this percent represents those who RESPONDED to the survey. In a tinny note INSEAD says that the response rate was something like 86% or so of those surveyed, Now, what if INSEAD deliberately selected certain group to survey? let us assume that they sent the questionnaire to all graduates, then this means that 86% responded and then there are almost 160 students didn’t respond, for a school like INSEAD, where they take ranking very seriously, and its students are overwhelmingly obsessed with rankings, I doubt that they didn’t take the survey in a serious matter! Another point of the salaries, the percentage of those responded with salary data is around 70% of the 860 students, and if we know already that in any given year, there are roughly 300 sponsored students from MBB and another high paying companies, this will clear the picture that every prospective students should not get trapped by the figures published in the employment report, simply because it does not reflect the reality, unless of course the student is sponsored or already established contacts and career and just want what many call it a 10-month “educational vacation”…

    out of curiosity : how did you get the idea that I seem anti-capitalism?!

  • C. Taylor

    Normal; 90% offer rate at 3 months is normal. Median Insead grads making $200k+ five years out, likewise normal. You seem anti-capitalist. Not a healthy sign for an MBA career.

    What’s not normal is expecting to make a significant career change without an internship and two years of networking and without attending a program with a strong history of placement at your targeted localities. This is an issue with individuals, not an MBA program.

    Only a fool throws down $100k for a program without verifying fit.

  • MBA-Watch

    To be honest, for a class of more than 1000 a year, it is pretty normal to find some graduates struggle to find jobs, some go back to their previous jobs, some get lower paid jobs, some stay unemployed for long time, etc..etc.. At the end 10, 20 , or even 50 graduates is very small number that will not affect at all, the INSEAD employment reports or rankings. This is the price of being in the largest MBA factory in the world and not already established your career before INSEAD. The school knows this very well, and they are fine with it.

  • C. Taylor

    If you have a solid background in IB, you should be fine. Insead offers an elite MBA.

    LBS is the place to go for banking jobs. Also, HEC Paris has a very interesting two year dual degree program: MBA/Masters in Finance. I’d check those out if you want an EU MBA, want to work in banking, and don’t have a banking background.

  • C. Taylor

    Did you try all tech firms in addition to ALL consulting firms and ALL IB firms?

    Inseadsux wrote: “After INSEAD; I tried to get a job in London; through a close personal friend, I was able to have a frank conversation with the lead IBanking recruiter for one of the Investment Banks.”
    Inseadsux wrote: “I went to INSEAD with the hope of changing career to strategy consulting. Post INSEAD; despite an extensive year long job search I was not able to get a single interview.”

  • Inseadsux

    After INSEAD; I tried to get a job in London; through a close personal friend, I was able to have a frank conversation with the lead IBanking recruiter for one of the Investment Banks. She told me; ‘We only recruit from INSEAD if LBS cannot provide a specific language skill set that we need. We find that generally INSEAD graduates do not work out.’

  • Mako

    Does anyone know if INSEAD is really that hot for financial services? It might be for PE/VC roles (behind all ex-MBB and ex-PE/IB students), but I do not recall an extensive recruiting by IBs from INSEAD’s employment report.

  • Henry Rosesmith

    Correction: “Just north of Ivey, the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management earned the highest scores in leadership.”

    Ivey scored 4.0 on Leadership vs. 3.9 at Rotman. You chose to only count schools with 10 or more responses but BW methodology is 8 responses. Ivey had 8; Rotman had 10.

  • This is a very interesting article. It is important to combine these stats with the raw career placement stats for each program you are considering in order to get the best overall picture. However an analysis like shows that to get the best job (directly out of B school), applicants need not necessarily go to the highest ranked school. Especially if your profile will not open doors at the top tier schools, it is important to look at some of these nuances across programs to determine where you will fit best!

  • george

    Thank you for the response. What kind of recruiters you have questioned? The IMD employment report tells a totally different story! Something is wrong. I can’t believe that such premiere institute that is the first in executive education will be ignored by multinational corporations! unless the situation has dramatically changed. Why forbes analysis says different things? I am not affiliated with the school, but I know for certain that the top 3 schools outside US are INSEAD, LBS, and IMD. Could the recent troubles in IMD affect the school that much!

  • Spectator


  • Jeff Schmitt

    Thank you for writing George. We do know IMD. In fact, they ranked 5th overall among international programs with Bloomberg Businessweek, including 1st in salaries and 3rd in the student survey (Note: BBW ranks American and international programs separately). IMD is a great school, but it didn’t really excite recruiters. It ranked 11th among recruiters (international only), with fewer surveys submitted. Just 14 recruiters evaluated the school in consulting (at a modest 3.21 no less), with another 14 scoring it in manufacturing (3.64). Those were the highest totals, unfortunately. It didn’t even generate any attention in financial services. That’s why it was left out — response volume from recruiters only, I’m afraid. We appreciate your feedback.

  • george

    Does the author of this article know that there is a business school called IMD? and it is, by far, the world’s best for industry and corporate?!

  • Questionable at Best

    A very biased methodology since the same recruiters or number of recruiters were not used. I’m guessing you didn’t normalize this data to make it fair for comparison purposes.