Mind the bias
As you will understand in more detail below, you can have your MBA profile evaluated by different people and online tools. It is very important to have a critical eye on the results of each evaluation.
When the evaluation is provided by experts, it will be helpful to take into consideration what their perspectives are – are they business school representatives, alumni, current students, admissions coaches, recruitment agents, etc. When the evaluation process is interactive, take this opportunity to discuss and clarify everything that you think is a mismatch, misunderstanding or you are curious to learn more about. This is a great learning experience that can help you build a strong application for admission when the time comes.
Whenever you use online tools to assess your MBA profile, first find out what the algorithm is that analyses your data and whether the tool comes from a trusted source. For example, if a profile evaluation is combined with a tool that matches you to the schools for which you qualify, find out how the schools in the data base were selected. In addition, some assessment tools have a simple algorithm, but others give more weight to some of the criteria when assessing your potential for successful admission to graduate business school. You should be aware of this so that you can interpret the result correctly and not be misled.
When, why, and how to have your profile evaluated
To select the best schools for you
Why? Many prospective MBA applicants have particular dream schools in mind. Others commit to thorough research and exploring the variety of options provided by business schools. In both cases, the value of having your profile assessed will help you fine-tune your selection and most importantly identify schools where you have realistic chances of admission.
When? Researching your options takes time, so does the preparation of the actual application for admission. It is never too early to have feedback on your potential for MBA studies as well as guidance on what you can improve in order to gain admission to your dream schools. It is great to have a profile assessment as early as when you start thinking of MBA studies.
How? At this stage you can use different options. Online tools can be a great start to give you initial orientation about your eligibility and the caliber of business schools that you can consider. Meeting an MBA orientation consultant or an admissions coach will provide you with a more thorough understanding of your strengths and areas of improvement for MBA application. You can also discover that now may not be the right time to plunge into an MBA project, or that the MBA is not what you need. Negative results as they might seem, the last two are essential decision for you to make career wise. Finally, you may start meeting business school admissions officers, but this will be really worthwhile when you have shortlisted the MBA programs that are good fit for you. Admissions officers are in the position to only advise you on how you fit their MBA programs, not others, but they can give you an in-depth feedback on the strengths of your profile for their business school.
To prepare a strong application for admission
Why? Building an MBA application that will stand out and present you in the most relevant way is a top priority for you after you have selected the right MBA programs. Having your profile evaluated for a particular school before your start working on your application package will be very insightful and help you build the right application strategy.
When? Once you have selected the MBA programs where you want to apply for admission, look for advice on how you fit there and what can make you stand out. Plan to have a profile assessment at least two months before the application begins, because you might need time to improve some parts of your profile, change your strategy or even change some of the schools on your shortlist.
How? Admissions officers can give you feedback and guidelines. However, different business schools have different practices. Some will openly meet applicants, review their CV, discuss their qualifications and career plans and provide feedback on how they fit the program. Other business schools provide online profile evaluation that is based on your CV or details provided in a data form. Admissions officers know all the details about the eligibility requirements, as well as what candidate profiles the business school is looking for. They have a lot of background information about what can make you stand out. So, take every opportunity to meet admissions officers in person or interact with them during school presentations, webinars, and campus visits.
Admissions consultants or coaches are another option for you to gain insight into what makes your profile attractive to business schools. Independent consultants work with applicants to different schools and have a good overview of what different MBA programs value. Also, especially admissions coaches, have the skills to help you gain deep insight into your strengths and advise you how to leverage any short backs in your past academic performance and professional experience that can affect your chances of admission.
How to prepare for a profile evaluation
Whatever the MBA evaluation process, expert or online tool, you should be ready to provide data and discuss a number of aspects of your performance and qualifications.
Academic qualifications: Academic degrees acquired, duration of studies, year(s) of graduation, language(s) of instruction.
Professional background and goals: An up-to-date and complete CV/resume will be needed, but also a summary of your years of full-time work experience after first university degree graduation, years of managerial experience, career progression, relevance of your work experience to MBA studies, career goals.
Aptitude for success during MBA studies: Your potential for academic work in graduate school will be evaluated. Academic transcripts and GPA (Grade Point Average), courses, projects during university studies can be discussed. The academic and professional areas of particular interest will be taken into consideration as well, e.g. do you want to focus on any specific area of business management and leadership, what is your expertise, etc. Aptitude for graduate business school will be evaluated also based on your language skills. For a profile evaluation a conversation in English can be enough, but for application you will be required to submit official scores from TOEFL, IELTS or other internationally recognized English proficiency tests. Analytical, quantitative, subject matter skills will also be taken into consideration. During the application you will be required to submit official scores from aptitude tests such as GMAT, GRE General Test, or Executive Assessment, etc. depending on the program. However, if you don’t have test scores at the early profile evaluations, you will discuss with the expert evidence that you possess these skills – your academic background and performance on analytical and quantitative courses, skills that you have developed during your full-time work, etc.
Take advantage of all opportunities for an MBA profile evaluation, but take the time to prepare. Research and understand the assessment options, so that you know how to interpret the results. But most importantly, do your homework to have all the data for the evaluation ready in advance.