If you apply to a school, you can assume that not only the test results count, but also special soft skills.
The Master of Business Administration, or MBA for short according to Abbreviationfinder, is still considered a valuable entry ticket to management and this degree is still very popular worldwide. No wonder, because the business schools that lend it promise a lot: to convey compact and practice-oriented management skills, to promote personal development and to establish professional networks.
Those who want to acquire and hold the MBA title usually have to invest many thousands of euros, because the continuing education master’s programs at state and private universities are associated with high costs. Access is also a major hurdle: renowned programs that are listed in the relevant international rankings of the Financial Times, The Economist or Bloomberg Business Week test their candidates in challenging application procedures.
“Good MBA programs do not depend solely on the quality of their courses. Cooperation and exchange of ideas within the student group are almost as important. ”Make sure that the applicants have appropriate communication skills, explains Ralf Bürkle, Marketing Director of the Mannheim Business School. It is the holder of the so-called “Triple Crown” and therefore has the seal of approval of the three leading accreditation agencies AACSB, EQUIS and AMBA. That is why around 400 applications are received for the 50 to 60 places in the MBA program.
The WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management in Vallendar can also refer to several accreditations. Gerold Gnau, program director of the twelve-month full-time MBA, confirms that the participants are hand-picked, even before submitting their documents: “We advise and accompany our candidates – some for a few months, some for up to three or four years. We filter out the people we would like to have in the classroom. ”If the applications were finally sent in, the quality would be correspondingly high.
In dialogues and essays, aspirants should highlight their special skills
So it makes little sense to write mass applications under such conditions – if only for financial reasons. For almost all business schools, application fees of over 100 euros are due, which will not be repaid in the event of a rejection. On top of that, the application involves various preliminary work that takes time and money: The candidates have to confirm their language skills with the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) and pay more for this than 200 euros to the test institutes. In many cases, the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) must also be taken. Under pressure of time, he asks for various mathematical basics and language skills and, in addition to some training, also requires a test fee of $ 250. However, these barriers to entry are no harassment and are not experienced that way, says Gnau – on the contrary: “Good applicants who are looking for high-quality programs look for schools that require the GMAT.”
These schools not only check the formal performance records in the form of university and job references, curriculum vitae and reference letters. They are looking for people who know exactly what they have to offer. Does the applicant have a good knowledge of the Eastern European market or a good network in his branch? What does he contribute to a working group with a banker from Norway, a chemist from Brazil and a marketing specialist from Singapore? Candidates should set out all of these criteria in their application forms, essays or motivation letters.
The Sloan School of Management at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), one of the top ten addresses in the United States, even inquires about an organizational chart of the company in which the applicant is currently working. In this way, the selection committee can better assess the hierarchical level of the student.
Ralf Bürkle from Mannheim Business School considers this procedure to be very useful. “We also expect someone to have a clear idea of what they want to do with the MBA and why they want to study with us,” he says. “Mannheim is in such a good position in the ranking” – that should not be the sole argument. What you also want to know at this school: Where does an applicant see himself realistically in five years? Are he interested in international modules abroad or coaching on leadership skills during his studies? If you want to argue reasonably here, you have to put time into self-reflection and preliminary research, for example by talking to alumni or a trial day on campus. In addition, because an MBA is a major investment in terms of time and money, some schools expect that the applicants have thought about this burden. Can a family man afford to quit the job for a year for a career boost? Is the financing up? Or would a part-time MBA part-time be the more sensible alternative?
Last but not least, in addition to the qualification and realistic assessment of the individual options, the personality of the candidate also plays a role. “If we find that someone is absolutely not able to work in a team, then we also reject a 1.0 graduate,” says Ralf Bürkle. A personal interview is standard for the application process at business schools. In Mannheim there are even two dates for the full-time MBA, in which the candidates also have to convince with their social skills. Because admirable top performers, with whom no one would like to have a beer in the evening, damage the classroom atmosphere. And so even lonely loners do not fit into a teaching concept that aims to solve problems in multi-competence teams.
Another important aspect is the requirements of the respective company. The Financial Times asked 72 of them what skills they expect from their MBA graduates. Soft skills were mentioned most frequently and in particular the following: teamwork with different people, the solution of comprehensive problems, the establishment and expansion of networks as well as time management and setting priorities. “So it’s no coincidence that we rate soft skills so highly,” says Gerold Gnau. “Employer demands should also be a yardstick for schools that offer an MBA.”