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MBA Candidacy Killers: 5 Traits to Avoid When Applying

July 27 2015 By The MBA Exchange
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There’s general consensus today about the characteristics of successful business school applicants. Candidly, most mortals find it difficult if not impossible to demonstrate all of those strengths. However, in many cases, it’s what you avoid in your applications that will help maximize your chances for admission.

Here are 5 key attributes that the former MBA admissions officers, interviewers and grads at The MBA Exchange believe can undermine a candidacy and thus should be shunned without exception:

1. Arrogance.
It may seem that an MBA applicant needs to sing his or her own praises as loudly as possible in order to be truly competitive. But that is not true. If you have personal, academic and/or professional successes, then presenting them in a clear, factual manner will make the point without showing you to be a braggart. Adcoms are looking for natural leaders who also know what it means to be players. Convey that you are such an applicant by avoiding self-praise.

2. Vagueness.
Top business schools plow through thousands of applications each year. The staff reading those apps may or may not be MBA grads themselves. And most don’t have extensive business experience. So they rely on the applicant to help them understand various scenarios and situations while avoiding heavy jargon or assuming understanding. Make it easy for the reader to understand who you are and what you’ve done.

3. Uncertainty.
Whether they ask it or not, adcoms want to know why you want an MBA and why you are applying to their school. Wanting and needing this coveted education is important, but insufficient to elevate your candidacy. Dig deep, and be able to convey your vision and motivation in ways that will not just support your candidacy, but also help the school understand your mission and want to help you achieve it.

4. Passivity.
Do you make things happen? Or do things happen to you? Do you initiate? Or do you respond? It could be as simple as how you phrase the content of your essays, but business schools quickly get a sense of who moves & shakes vs. who sits & waits. Initiative is a core trait of a successful MBA student and business leader, so the adcoms are assessing this attribute as they review your application materials. So, step up and convey that you have a clear bias towards action.

5. Procrastination.
Remaining in a job that is no longer challenging. Postponing a viable solution. Avoiding an inevitable setback. These are attributes that instantly send an application to the ding pile. Everyone faces issues and obstacles, but only those who harness the passage of time rather succumb to it effectively convey their readiness to pursue an MBA now.

Applicants who clearly need to improve their GMAT scores, take an extension course, pursue a leadership role, etc. but don’t do so are conveying that they are not going to hit the deck running if admitted. Showing a sense of urgency sends a powerful message that you will add value to classmates, faculty and the MBA program itself from day one.

The good news? If you believe that your candidacy might suffer from some of these vulnerabilities, you can still do something about it. A smart, first step is to introduce yourself to a professional admissions consultant like The MBA Exchange and get a free, expert evaluation of your candidacy.