How Recruiters Rank Business Schools

Chicago Booth students in class. Courtesy photo

The U.S. News recruiter ranking does come with some flaws, though none fatal. By averaging three years of surveys to compile a score, it is harder to quickly discern changes in recruiter opinion. U.S. News also doesn’t disclose the number of employers surveyed, meaning a few high marks on a particular school could have an outsized influence on a particular score. This lack of transparency is less evident in the Bloomberg Businessweek annual employer survey, which accounts for 35% of its school ranking.

In 2016, Bloomberg Businessweek surveyed 1,055 recruiters from 500 companies, down from the 1,461 recruiters and 672 firms that participated last year. Here, recruiters can score up to 10 companies where they’ve chalked up “significant recruiting experience in the past five years.” On the plus side, the survey methodology grants greater weight to employers that hire more MBAs. However, this is offset by Bloomberg Businessweek’s refusal to release its underlying data, with recruiters traditionally scoring schools on 14 criteria (using the same five point scale as U.S. News, no less), on areas ranging like skill sets. In other words, readers simply see rank and not score. This makes the ranking suspect, as readers have little idea about the distance separating schools when it comes to recruiter sentiment.

In many ways, the Bloomberg Businessweek ranking replicates what readers will find in U.S. News. Among both sets of recruiters — which undoubtedly have some overlap —Harvard, Wharton, Chicago Booth, and MIT Sloan rank among the top programs. In addition, Texas-Dallas and Buffalo proved to be anything but one hit wonders, ranking 24th and 27th respectively among recruiters.

In contrast, Stanford took a tumble among Businessweek respondents, ranking just 20th, scoring below the likes of Penn State, American University, Purdue, and Syracuse. The Cardinal wasn’t the only school to post disappointing results in Businessweek. Yale SOM, Berkeley Haas, and Virginia Darden, for example, all fell outside the Top 20 among recruiters, each of which losing 13-15 spots. In addition, respected programs like Vanderbilt Owen, Emory Goizueta, Georgetown McDonough and Washington Olin finishing outside the top 40 with Businessweek. These served as major departures from the U.S. News recruiter ranking, where all four schools have been on the rise over the past two years.