Deciding which MBA
program is for you is the most important step. Take your time over it and get
it right. You might be applying to more than one program, but don't be tempted
to rush it.


Procedures for
applying to 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


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 and 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 alumnus of the school.


The Resume, or CV


a separate personal resume or CV is required, it should:


  • Be concise and neat (not
  • Present you clearly to someone
    who does not know yo.
  • Be specific, saying what you
    have done, learned and accomplished.
  • Show evidence of your
    managerial and leadership skills.
  • Show evidence that you are a
    good 'group worker' as 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 to spend time on your
    resume, and make it show. The school will want to see that you are taking
    them seriously.


The Essay


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, 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
    address 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 alumnus.
  • Express your views and
  • 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.
  • Follow the school's
    requirements as regards to line spacing, margins, etc., and especially any
    word limit.
  • Don't use mass produced essays.


Letters of


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, 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 don't tell them
    what to write. Speak to or meet with them, give them a copy of your
    completed application form, resume, and essays.
  • 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 and not just tick the boxes and write
    no comments.


The Tests


will probably be required to take tests like GMAT and TOEFL. Be sure to:


  • Practice beforehand. Note that
    there are organizations which offer coaching and tuition.
  • If you are required to do
    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. In 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 aptitude
    tests to try out.
  • Remember the normal test/exam
    guidance, which is pacing yourself, and trying to complete the full test.
  • Schools which use tests attach
    a lot of importance to them and 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 at
    the time of the interview. You will be given a task and observed. The
    school will want to see balanced behavior, such as your ability to lead,
    take decisions and form opinion, as well as to listen to, support and
    encourage others.


The Interview


you get this far, you are shortlisted. It 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
    don't try to memorize answers. They won't 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 and what you would contribute.
  • 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, meaning 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 the application. Have a file of newspaper cuttings, prospectus,
    etc., but don't spread it out on the table!
  • When at the end you are asked
    if you have any questions, don't pull out a long list! Have one or two (at
    most) good questions on things which are not in the prospectus.
  • Don't behave/question/discuss
    as if you expected to be accepted. Don't 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 interviewer is not there to help you solve your financial
    problems. Make it clear that you understand all the costs.
  • Remember the key questions: Why
    do you want to do this MBA? Why do you want to do it now?


Funding and


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 in reference books and other resources.
  • 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.
    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.


with permission from The MBA Program Information Site (, a comprehensive
source of information on MBA programs.