Procedures for applying to enter an MBA program vary - and so does the terminology. However these are the common aspects. You may not require all of them in all situations. These are our tips:
- The application form
- The resume or CV
- The Essay
- Letters of Recommendation
- The tests
- The interview
- Funding and scholarship
Your form should be clear, complete and neat. When read quickly by someone who does not know you it should give a clear picture of you.
- Spend sufficient time - do the job properly. This is the first hurdle - most people fall here.
- Photocopy the blank form several times and fill out several drafts before you fill out the copy to submit. Get someone to look at your drafts - preferably someone who doesn't know you too well and who can therefore see the document as an Admissions person in the School might see it.
- If you are applying to a School in another country - remember that you might not get an interview - so the application documents are particularly important.
- If the application form refers to Interviews - and you are in another country - offer to be interviewed by telephone and/or by a local allumnus of the School.
If a separate personal resume or CV is required, it should-
- Be concise and neat ( not handwritten ).
- Present you - as a person - clearly , to someone who does not know you.
- Be specific - saying what you have done, learnt and accomplished.
- Show evidence of your managerial and leadership skills.
- Show evidence that you are a good 'group worker' - most programs will need you to work in this way.
- Highlight specific skills and abilities that will differentiate you from others - and make you stand out from the crowd.
- Include some things which might become topics in an interview.
- Remember - spend time on your resume, and make it show - the School will want to see that you are taking them seriously.
If it is about you - it should do all the things which are listed above for the Resume - but it is also a test of your writing ability , so it should also-
- Be well structured and logical (check spelling and syntax. Get someone to read it before you use it).
- Present your strengths - but recognize your weaknesses , and say how doing the program is intended to addrees them.
- Indicate what you would bring to the program - i.e. how you would be an asset to it , and subsequently to the School as an allumnus.
- Express your views and opinions.
- Address all the specific topics requested or suggested by the School - make a check-list and make sure you cover all items, preferably in the order the School presented them in any notes for guidance.
- Follow the School's requirements as regards line spacing, margins etc - and especially any word limit.
- Dont use 'mass produced' or 'off the peg' essays.
Take care to pick the right people to comment about you-
- Choose people who know you and who like you.
- Choose people in business or education, i.e. with job titles which will be recognized by the School.
- Ask them before and thank them afterwards (preferably when you have the result of the application).
- Brief them - but dont tell them what to write - speak to or meet with them, give them a copy of your completed application form , CV etc.
- Tell them their input is important and not just a formality.
- Choose people who have, and will give, the time to do a good job - ie not just tick the boxes and write no comments.
You will be asked to submit an official transcript from every undergraduate and graduate institution you have attended, regardless of whether you received a degree from the institution. This can require a lot of legwork and time on your part, especially if you have attended several schools. Again, don't wait until the last minute. Many schools will only accept written transcript requests, so you might not be able to call your college's registrar and handle this task over the phone.
You will probably be required to take tests - eg GMAT, TOEFL etc. Be sure to-
- Practice before - as far as possible. Note that there are organisations which offer coaching and tuition - see the Links page.
- If you are required to do psychometric tests (eg Personality tests) it will usually be at the time of the interview. You cannot prepare for them in the sense of getting the right answers (if fact you probably will not know what test will be used) - but you can try to do some tests before just to get the feel of them. University Careers officers, and careers guidance organizations normally have tests that you might be able to take - or you might get a book of personality and apptitude tests to try out.
- Remember the normal test/exam guidance - pace yourself - try to complete the full questionnaire/test.
- Schools which use tests attach a lot of importance to them - so should you. Tests (especially GMAT) are a convenient filter for them - to reduce a very large number of applicants to a smaller group for closer scrutiny.
- You may get some group tests/exercises at the time of the interview. You will be given a task and observed. The School will want to see balanced behaviour - i.e. your ability to lead, take decisions and form opinion, as well as to listen to, support and encourage others.
If you get this far - you are shortlisted. Its is the critical stage. Think about it before. Get prepared.
- Think about some of the questions you might be asked - and consider how you would answer them - but dont try to prepare answers - they will not seem natural , and you may forget the words.
- The interviewer wants to see what you are like - they do not want an act. They will be trying to decide whether you would 'fit' the program, what you would contribute etc.
- Dress smartly.
- Aim to get there a bit earlier - you might then be able to look around - if it is at the School.
- Show that you have done your 'homework' e.g you have gathered information on the School and the program. You need to know quite a lot about the School and the program - you might get asked questions- just to see how seriously you have gone about you application. Have a file of cuttings, prospectus etc - but dont spread it out on the table!
- When at the end you are asked if you have any questions - dont pull out a long list! Have one or two (at most) good questions - e.g. information which is not in the prospectus.
- Dont behave/question/discus as if you expected to be accepted. Dont talk about 'we' when you refer to the program.
- Know about the cost/fees/funding issues. The Interview is not the time to get into details. The interviwer is not there to help you solve your financial problems. Make it clear that you understand all the cost issues - fees, residence, materials etc.
- Remember the key questions- 'Why do you want to do this MBA?. 'Why do you want to do it now?'
MBA programs are expensive.You will want to be sure that you can afford it , and the School to which you apply will want to be sure also.
- Make sure you know all the cost implications. The fees are just a part of what it will cost you. If you need a grant or scholarship - start looking early.
- Notice that there are sources of Scholarship info, eg refernece books, listings etc - see the Links page.
- Some Schools will have Scholarship or financial assistance schemes - get all the details before you get too far into the application process.
- If you are dependent on financial assistance - it may well influence what places you can apply to - eg schemes in your own country may only apply to certain other countries, and schemes from the Schools may be restricted to particular types of candidate. Sorting all this out can take a lot of time - so start early.