Don’t play with ‘matches’! Timely advice when choosing an MBA admissions consulting firm

With business school application deadlines approaching rapidly, future MBAs are actively exploring their options when it comes to selecting an admissions consulting firm. And the volume and variety of those options can feel overwhelming at times! At the heart of this important decision is the question: “Who is the best match for my candidacy?”

The first step is to assess each firm by asking some tough questions, including: What is their track record for admissions success? Do they offer independent verification of that success? How do their past clients – even the unsuccessful ones — feel about the service they received? What are the credentials and profiles of the individual consultants?

Answers to such questions will help you narrow the list of firms you’re considering. But then you need to ask even more crucial questions: How many options do I have in selecting the consultant who will work with me? Which consultant does the firm identify as the best choice? Why and how was that consultant picked for me?

In considering a proposed consultant match, look for the following factors:

1. Some common or complementary background (e.g., undergrad major, industry or functional experience, cultural heritage) that will foster bonding between consultant and client.

2. Compatible communication and work style that will ensure efficient, effective and – yes – enjoyable collaboration.

3. Accessibility and attention that are not “stretched” by an excessive roster of other clients.

4. Responsiveness to your questions within 24 hours or less so there’s no undue stress or delay in advancing your admissions campaign even as the deadlines approach.

5. A formal process in place for resolving any unexpected issues or, as a last resort, changing consultants.

Some high-profile admissions consulting firms don’t even list the bios of their consultants on their websites. And others leave the matching process up to whoever picks up the phone when a prospective client calls to inquire. At The MBA Exchange, the size, diversity and quality of our consulting team ensure a truly customized fit for each client. We proudly feature consultant profiles on our website and have distinguished our firm with an unrivaled matching process. Our managing director makes each “client/consultant” match personally, thoughtfully and strategically — after completing his own thorough analysis of the client’s background and goals. Key considerations include the targeted schools and the professional, academic and personal background of both parties, as well as the consultant’s track record, communication style and responsiveness. We even consider the prospect’s “personality profile” using a confidential online test designed by a psychologist.

So, if you agree that the process for selecting the best firm and consultant is critical to your MBA admissions success, then don’t play with matches! A thorough, disciplined and objective comparison of firms will produce a pairing that adds value to your candidacy from day one.