Hi readers, following our last blog post by Craig about our new essay question, today's post is all about the letters of recommendation. This year, we made the decision to increase the number of recommendations to two based on feedback from our applicants, who said this would give them a chance to provide multiple perspectives on their strengths and readiness for b-school. We also noticed in the last few years that many candidates ended up submitting two recommendation letters anyway. We will monitor how useful the additional recommendation is for the admissions committee as well as for applicants to determine if we will continue with this policy in future application cycles!
The letters of recommendation are very helpful in providing a third party's perspective on your leadership and management potential, readiness/fit for business school, interpersonal skills and teamwork abilities. We prefer a letter from your direct supervisor whenever possible. However, we understand that circumstances may prevent you from asking your current supervisor; in this case an indirect supervisor (people who have overseen projects you’ve worked on, a manager from another department, etc.) is a good option, as well as former employers, clients (especially for those of you who are self-employed) and supervisors from extracurricular organizations. Academic references (i.e., a professor from a class you took) are not very helpful because the questions on the recommendation form are best answered by someone with whom you work(ed). I would also steer away from family members as recommendation providers, so if your direct supervisor is someone you are related to, consider one of the other options above as an alternative. In free-response questions, generic answers will not be as helpful as detailed ones with specific examples. As such, having an executive with whom you have little direct experience working for write your recommendation is less beneficial compared to a manager you work with daily, who has seen your professional growth and impact firsthand.
After selecting your recommendation providers, it's very important to spend some time prepping these folks on the letter's purpose and what we're looking for. This is the only part of the application that you don't write yourself (I hope!) but you can definitely provide input by discussing your reasons for going to business school and post-MBA career plans, and by refreshing your recommender on your accomplishments in the workplace. It's a small investment of time on your part, but your recommenders will absolutely appreciate your insight because it will make their job easier!
What are your questions about the letters of recommendation? Let us know in the comments or send us an email.