Wednesday, January 23, 2013

MBA Interview Strategies - Help Your Professors Write Good Letters of Recommendation For You

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To get to the MBA interview stage, you need to jump a few hurdles first, and one of those will be to get good letters of recommendation. Read on to find out how you can increase your chances to get letters that will actually help you get into the program.
In the first part of this series, I suggested that you build relationships with professors, and that you make every effort to do really well in at least a few classes so that the professors who teach them are able to say good things about you.
You should also take more than once class with your favorite professors to give them as much of a chance as possible to get to know you well.
Once they write their letters, it makes them more credible when they can say that they know you well because you've taken three of their classes. Compare that to someone who writes that you apparently took a class with them at some point, but they barely remember you.
But that's just the start. You also need to make it easy for them to write you a good letter.
Here's what this means:

1) Give them plenty of warning
Professors are hopelessly swamped with deadlines, just as students are who take too many classes and work a job to boot. So give them plenty of warning, and be prepared to remind them periodically, though you should ask them if they want you to do that.

2) Make it easy for them to write the letter
Write them a short report, where you include all the relevant information, including which of their class(es) you have taken and when, and what grades you received. Include copies of the papers you wrote for them if you still have them, or else remind them of the topic and give a brief summary of the paper.
This will help them be specific in their letter -- which makes for a much stronger letter than one that's quite vague.

3) Tell them about the MBA programs you're applying to
Also tell them which program you're applying to, what you like about the program, why you believe you're a good fit for the program, and why you want to be accepted in that program. This will help them focus on the most relevant information.

4) Don't forget to sign the waiver
Be sure to sign the form where you waive the rights to view the letter of recommendation.
Why? Because if you don't, your professor might feel inhibited and the committee will think the letter was potentially less than candid. If you only ask professors who know you well and have reasons to think highly of you, they'll write good things about you, especially if you make it easy for them.
To recap: The MBA interview is an important part of getting into a top MBA program or business school, but you also need to get there in the first place.

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