How To Impress An MBA Admissions Committee: Dos and Don’ts

Your Master’s of Business Administration (MBA) application doesn’t sail off into the void after you complete it and hit submit. It goes straight to the members of an MBA admissions committee.

Those committee members, more casually known as adcoms, hold your future in their hands while they consider your application materials. You want to make sure your application will impress and cause doors to open for you. Those admissions committee members are your audience, and you need their applause.

At The MBA Exchange, we understand all sides of this situation. We’ve helped thousands of successful applicants to refine, hone and polish top-notch application materials. Additionally, our team hosts a number of former adcoms from top schools like Harvard, Wharton, MIT Sloan, Columbia, Kellogg, and Booth who can report back from inside the room where it happens, offering you key insights to impress any MBA or college admission committee.

What is an admission committee?

An MBA admissions committee or college admission committee is a group that considers your application materials to make a judgment on whether you’re a good match for their program.

Members of an admission committee may be admissions staff, educators, second-year students, or even alumni interviewers, although the latter aren’t typically involved in admissions decisions. You could be dealing with outside readers or deans. 

These committee members are the intended audience for your application materials, the people you have to impress to gain admittance to your target MBA programs.

How to impress MBA admissions committees?

MBA admissions committees want to see every aspect of your personality, background, and achievements. That’s why a well-rounded MBA application is so essential to admissions success. In order to impress an MBA admissions committee, you need genuinely impressive accomplishments, well-presented to maximize impact.

Components of an MBA application

The different component parts of your MBA application create opportunities to impress admissions committees with your various strengths.

A typical MBA application contains:

  • College transcripts and GPA
  • Score reports from standardized tests like the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT™) or Graduate Record Examination (GRE ®)
  • A resume prepared for MBA admissions (not job-hunting!)
  • Recommendations
  • Essays and short answer questions

Once adcoms have looked these materials over – if you’re lucky! – you’ll receive your invitations to an admissions interview, one of the most important parts of sealing the deal.

Problem factors like MBA with a low GPA or a poorly-prepared resume can get your candidacy tossed out before you reach the interview stage. Your goal is to make it through the initial admissions committee review of applicants by optimizing your candidacy as much as possible.

Work on your resume!

Don’t think that the resume you use to apply for jobs can just be repurposed for your MBA applications! The ideal resume to impress MBA admissions committees highlights your accomplishments, including lots of specific, concrete, and, ideally, quantified information on your leadership experience and potential.

Dos of impressing the MBA admissions committee with your resume

Most MBA applicants have 4-10 years of professional experience, so you’ll face some stiff competition when it comes to impressive resumes.

Whenever possible, do add concrete information to your MBA resume about your professional contributions, including metrics like revenue earned. Quantifiable achievements get attention from adcoms!

Your resume is also where you establish your leadership credentials. Absolutely do document a long-standing habit of leadership in your resume, pointing out all of the leadership opportunities you’ve taken over the course of your career. And be sure to include community service and leadership experience in your MBA resume, as well.

Don’ts of impressing the MBA admissions committee with your resume

Don’t leave out essential information crucial to understanding your background from your MBA resume. Adcoms need to understand where you’re coming from in order for your essays and recommendations to pack the proper punch.

Don’t let your resume get too long or visually fussy. You want one page with a simple, easy-to-read layout.

Mostly, don’t skip optimizing your resume for your MBA applications! It’s worth taking time to craft a strong first impression in your resume and building from there.

Don’t settle for a low or just average GMAT score

According to the go-getters at Poets & Quants, who helpfully interviewed adcoms to learn more about what parts of the MBA application get the most scrutiny, your test scores, GMAT and GRE, are still one of the most essential components of your application package. 

Your target schools may accept a GRE score rather than requiring a GMAT score. Some applicants find that the GRE better shows off their strengths, although the GMAT vs GRE question can be tricky depending on the particulars of your grad school goals.

If you’ve taken on the GMAT and scored average-to-low –  a 670, 620, or even a 590 – don’t settle for that unimpressive score. The MBA Exchange team provides expert GMAT and test preparation services, including unique GMAT preparation resources made available through our exclusive partnerships.
To really impress MBA admissions committees, shoot to score a 730 above on the GMAT. A 770+ score may be what you really need to make it into the top MBA program you’ve got your eye on – and we can help with that! With our tips for cracking the GMAT, a top GMAT score could well be within your reach, even with a low score or two in your past.

Impressing at events conducted by MBA admissions committees

Your target business school hosts events where you can interact with the MBA admissions committee or college admission committee personnel and make a favorable impression. For, example, here’s Yale SOM’s current schedule of events. These events could be Q&As, forums, meet-and-greets, or even coffee chats, and you can find events both in-person and online.

Dos of impressing admissions committee members during events

Do make sure to do your research before attending these events! Attending admissions events is a way to get a leg up, so make the best of the opportunity. It’s a good idea to prepare a few good, solid questions that you can ask adcoms, getting information and bringing yourself to notice at the same time.

Do keep your people skills on point, with plenty of active listening and lots of politeness. Person-to-person connections can get you far in the MBA admissions world, but you’ll need to put your best foot forward.

Also, do keep track of what you learn during the event. You can use pertinent details to more perfectly tailor application materials like your essays to hit exactly the notes that your target program’s admissions committee is looking for.

Don’ts of impressing admissions committee members during events

Events with top-program adcoms are a bad time to develop a case of foot-in-mouth disease – you want to watch your manners! Selfishly dominating a session shows a lack of team spirit, and asking adcoms directly about your admissions chances is a big social no-no, on the verge of being rude.

Reaching your goal of getting an interview invite from MBA admissions committees

Your goal for your application materials, once they make it in front of the MBA admissions committee or college admission committee members, is for them to make enough of an impression to get you through to the interview stage, where you can close the deal on your admissions package.

To impress MBA admissions committees, you need your resume, GMAT score, essays, and other application materials to present you with pizzazz and clarity, showing how much you could contribute to in-class and extracurricular life in a top MBA program. Demonstrate drive, leadership, experience, and impact in all of your MBA application materials.

Optimizing your MBA application to impress

Optimizing an MBA candidacy takes lots of time, effort, and insider know-how. Why not let the team at The MBA Exchange support you through the application process?

With more than 25 years of experience perfecting MBA candidacies, we can position you to impress, whether that means presenting your achievements and accomplishments in the best possible light or assisting you in efforts to improve weaker aspects of your application like a low GMAT score.

We can support you in choosing the best MBA programs for you. There are many types of MBA programs, from part-time to online to executive MBA (EMBA) programs.

For a sneak peek into the highs and lows of your potential MBA candidacy from the experts at The MBA Exchange, fill out our free, confidential profile evaluation form now. We’ll let you know where you’re already making a strong impression, as well as the areas we see where your application and candidacy could be improved.