Inside The Mind Of The MBA Admissions Officer: What Are MBA Programs Really Looking For?

leadersGraduate business schools are highly competitive, leaving many hopefuls clamoring to find the magic formula for entry.

Are you interested in earning an MBA? If so, then you must get through the MBA admissions officer of your chosen program first.

The trick to doing that is knowing exactly what type of candidates MBA programs are most interested in recruiting. What are MBA programs really looking for?

Here is a guide inside the mind of an MBA admissions officer:


More than your academic record or your community volunteer work, MBA admissions officers want to see strong leadership ability that will translate into effective business management. If you are an older student, then you have the benefit of career experience to draw from. However, even as a fresh-faced college graduate, you have many opportunities to prove your leadership abilities. These include holding a position in the Student Government Administration, working your way up the Toastmaster’s ladder, heading a sports team, and more. Whatever your pool of experience is, look for ways in which you can use it to prove that you are an apt leader.

Analytical ability

It is important that you are able to exhibit a strong aptitude, and interest in, the in-depth analysis of a wide array of subjects. You should be able to assess and act on complex concepts, and should enjoy lively debate. MBA admissions officers will look for this aptitude in your application, and they will also consider the analytical elements of your admissions tests (GMAT or GRE). Therefore, it is very important that you put considerable time and effort into performing as well as possible on these tests.

Academic achievement

MBA admissions officers look for candidates who have a proven track record of successfully juggling rigorous class schedules. MBA programs, themselves, are very rigorous and rigid, and any good MBA candidate must be able to prove an aptitude for excelling in the face of high pressure situations. Your academic record does not necessarily need to be based on business classes; it really doesn’t even matter what your major is as long as you have a history of taking full class loads, completing advanced coursework, and performing at the head of the pack.

As you can see, there are some very clear-cut qualities MBA admissions officers are looking for in MBA program candidates. Consider all of the factors listed here and where you stand with each, and then make it a point to improve upon your weak points before it is time to sit before the person who can either make or break your MBA program application.

About the Author:
Chuck Vilain was a MBA student who spent a great deal of time preparing for his interviews. You’ll have to start now, though, if you want to be prepared with the best GMAT scores, grades, and experience possible to get accepted.