MBA Recommendation Letters

The Correct Approach for MBA Recommendation Letters

MBA Admission committee pays serious attention to the recommendation letters you present them with. In best interest of your candidature, it is very important to make the right people recommend you and to have the relevant content in their recommendations.

Process of MBA Recommendations

While you fill your application online, on the corresponding webpage for Recommendations, you will need to give the details of your recommender. Mostly, schools allow only the official email IDs of the recommender. A request from school is sent to your recommender for evaluating you. The evaluation is a set of ratings and/or a set of questionnaire. Your evaluator needs to complete the evaluation and submit it online to the school.

Who are the Best People to Recommend for MBA Programs?

While the business schools allow a wide range of recommenders to choose from, only few of them have the capacity to judiciously recommend you. People often believe that the recommender should be very high official in the company. That’s absolutely incorrect! Think- you are a Project Engineer in your company and are getting recommendation from the CEO, a guy sitting seven ladders above you. How much does he know about you?

Schools generally ask for two recommenders and very few ask for three. The best people to recommend you are:

  • Crucial: your immediate supervisor in current company. Even if he is just an Assistant Manager, always get one recommendation from him. If, due to some reason, you can’t make him recommend you, go for someone who is as good as a reporting supervisor to you. The reporting supervisors are the professionals to have worked very closely with the candidates and are the best people to comment on an an individual’s professional and personal relevant for management education.
  • Your immediate supervisor in previous company.
  • A client you have worked closely with.
  • An official who trained you during your inception in the company.
  • An HR professional who is associated closely.

  • If nothing works out, last options…

  • A peer in your current or previous organization.
  • A faculty from past institution.
  • Peers or sub-ordinates are not the best people to recommend you because they are not in a position to critically examine your performance. Professors from previous institution are, again, not the best people because they were associated long ago. Moreover, remember that MBA is not an academic program. It’s a professional degree and it is in your best interest to get professional recommendations.

    Tips for MBA Recommendations

  • Request your recommenders to give examples. Any claim without proper evidences may sound shallow. Relevant examples, wherever possible, bring credibility.
  • Avoid excellent ratings everywhere; the recommendations need to show a balanced view from a supervisor. While the overall tone of the recommendation needs to be strongly positive, an uninterrupted praise sounds unreal. For example a consistent 8+ rating on a set of 15 characteristics suggests a non-analytical treatment to the recommendation. Please ensure a fine balance in the recommendation to let it serve its purpose for the admissions committee- to objectively evaluate your candidature.
  • Avoid mentioning very strong weaknesses; for example- a weakness such as “lack of team spirit” is too strong and may adversely affect one’s candidature. Similarly, the weaknesses should not be on the ethical or disciplinary grounds. Try to mention weaknesses which are correctible and not a serious impediment in management career.
  • Try to give a relative assessment; a Manager praising you may come across as nice guy, full of praise for every subordinate. However, if he compares you with others and suggests that you are one of the more competitive performers, the praise carries greater weight.
  • Certain virtues are best described by a third person; this is a chance, tap it. For example, suggesting that “I have strong communication skills” in the applications essays sounds too strong and may set the expectations high for the interview; the same thought, when conveyed by a supervisor, may sound quite serene.
  • Avoid mere repetition of skills and qualities mentioned in your applications essays.
  • Let the recommendations be original; don’t worry too much about the grammar. A comma here or there is alright- especially if your recommender is not in a profile that requires robust linguistic skills- as generally is the case.
  • How do the Students Enrolled with us Benefit?

    We ask our students to provide us a list of all possible recommenders and tell them that who are the best recommenders among available options. Recommendations are an opportunity to bring new perspectives to the applications; we suggest a theme for each recommendation and our students forward these inputs to the respective recommenders.

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