While the MBA application essays and interviews may get the bulk of your attention, schools are increasingly adding crucial extra components to their application requirements.
Below are some important application “extras” to prepare for and Personal MBA Coach’s advice on how to tackle each.
Most schools offer candidates the chance to complete an optional essay. However, DO NOT feel compelled to answer these questions. In most instances, only candidates with extenuating circumstances may need to provide additional information here. (There are a few schools where answering the optional question is advised, but this is the exception and not the rule). Such extenuating circumstances include low GPAs, gaps in employment and an unusual choice of recommenders (i.e. not asking a direct supervisor). With these essays, be brief and to the point. Do not offer long-winded excuses or any more information than is needed.
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Most schools have different requirements for reapplicants (and different definitions of a reapplicant in terms of years since the last application). For the majority of schools, reapplicants need to answer an additional essay. In the case of others, such as Columbia, they only need to submit the reapplicant essay. Be sure to look carefully at the requirements for each school.
It is crucial that as a reapplicant you articulate how you are both a stronger candidate and more interested in the school. This should include specific ways you have enhanced your profile (i.e. higher GMAT/GRE, supplemental education), professional advancements (even if you did not get a promotion, there is plenty to talk about) and any changes to or clarity in your goals. It is just as important that you show how you have taken the time to learn more about the school, reconfirming or enhancing your interest in the program. More extensive advice for reapplicants can be found here.
Business Schools are increasingly using videos as an additional means of assessing applicants. After all, you will have limited career success if you are unable to nail an interview. Some schools, such as MIT, provide this video question in advance and applicants submit a pre-recorded video with their applications. On the other hand, schools like Kellogg, Yale SOM, and INSEAD, expect applicants to record videos on the spot after right after they submit their applications.
For these statements, be yourself. These videos offer admissions committee members the chance to learn more about you on a personal level. Potential topics include passions, values, hobbies, etc. While you do not want to sound overly rehearsed, it is important to practice for these videos. If you have the question, write out a rough script in advance of filming. If you do not, practice sample questions. As you practice, consider factors such as audio quality, demeanor, and fluency in addition to the content itself. Personal MBA Coach has proprietary software available to help candidates prepare for these videos and includes analysis of sample videos in its comprehensive packages.
Pre and post-interview essays are another tool that schools are using more and more often. Harvard Business School requires a post-interview assessment. MIT and Booth have added additional pre-interview essays for candidates invited to interview. All of these essays have very short deadlines. Our advice here is to, once again, be yourself. Look to add complementary information and avoid repeating any content from your original application essays. Our comprehensive packages also include analysis of these pre/post-interview essays.
For a more detailed and customized plan, and individualized support with various aspects of the MBA application process such as early planning, school selection, essay editing or interview preparation, visit Personal MBA Coach.
This article has been re-published from Personal MBA Coach’s blog.