The Perfect Applicant Checklist

Perfect Candidate Checklist

You might be wondering, what makes a perfect applicant? Is there such a thing? Most of the MBA hopefuls targeting business schools in the top ten will have competitive job experience and test scores. In order to differentiate, the admissions committees at top b-schools are looking for people who are outstanding in the following four categories: leadership, innovation, teamwork, and maturity. By utilizing our four dimensions of a “perfect” applicant checklist, you’ll be able to cross the t’s and dot the i’s on your application before submitting. See how the items on the checklist compare to your current application. Which categories are adequately demonstrated in your essays? What aspects of your application could leave the admissions committees wanting more? Use our checklist to find out!


Leadership goes beyond your formal title. Of course, it certainly helps for the admissions committees to see a manager title on your resume, but the type of leadership that competitive business schools are interested in, goes far deeper than a job title. They are looking for true change makers who can inspire people through their own leadership style. Your story of leadership can be professional, personal, or both.

❏    Examples of formal leadership (job title promotions, spearheading various projects)

❏    Taking an active role in group work/ responding to group needs with grace

❏    Delegating tasks to achieve results and identifying strengths in others


Admissions committees look for candidates with problem solving mindsets. In fact, the GMAT test was designed with this distinct purpose in mind. B-schools are looking for students who can compute at a high level while also thinking in the hypothetical to generate possible solutions.

❏    High GMAT/ GRE scores

❏    Examples of creativity and intellect: How have you married the two successfully?

❏    Adequately explaining the ways in which you’ve left your jobs and volunteer organizations better than you found them


The admissions committee is interested in seeing how you play with others because many of the class assignments will be submitted as a group. Field work will also utilize the power of the team, so working well with people of a wide variety of backgrounds will help you succeed in this category. Unfortunately, many applicants use teamwork as a buzzword without explaining their role or how they typically work with others. The more you understand about yourself with regards to your role in teams, the better you can speak about your unique contributions to your class without coming across disingenuously.

❏    Taking action to help and serve others, especially while working towards a common goal

❏    Following through on commitments to others: Do you finish what you start? Do you prep someone to take over what you’ve started?

❏    Examples of tuning in to individual differences and valuing diversity


The admissions committee expects the perfect balance of expertise and humility from their candidates. MBA admits will be able to contribute something to the class discussion that no other person can. Schools are looking for good students who can also be teachers for their fellow classmates. What is your area of expertise? How will you use this expertise to participate in class discussions? How will it be valuable? Ownership defines this category; It’s more powerful to say how you got up after a failure than to write about how you’ve never fallen.

❏    Demonstrating success and expertise in any given field

❏    Generating decision-making strategies and options that empower people

❏    Making difficult decisions, dealing with conflict and learning from failure

When reviewing your application before submission, the four dimensions of a perfect applicant checklist is a great way to make sure you have ticked all the boxes. You can demonstrate all four categories throughout your application, it doesn’t just have to be in the essays. Think about how your letters of recommendation show innovation, or how your resume shows leadership. Demonstrating these four personality traits throughout your application will only help to make you a stronger (some might even say perfect) applicant.

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If you need help with any of the advice above or have questions, give Veritas Prep a call at 800-925-7737 to speak with an MBA admissions expert, or request a free MBA admissions consultation for personalized advice for your unique application situation! For more insights and advice, check out Veritas Prep’s blog, and be sure to find Veritas Prep on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter.

Veritas Prep  is the largest privately-owned test prep and admissions consulting company in the world. Since 2002, Veritas Prep has helped thousands of applicants gain admission to their dream schools using its team of experienced consultants and a personalized game plan for each client.


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