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3 Important things about recommendation letters for MBA application

The recommendation letter is a very important component of the MBA application. It gives the MBA admissions committee a third party point of view about the candidate.

1. What is a Letter of Recommendation?

The main purpose of a recommendation letter is to provide a third party insight into your talents and weaknesses to the admission committee. A recommendation letter is a document indicating a candidate's character which helps the admission university to have a total overview of the candidate's strengths, weaknesses and accomplishments.

2. How to write a letter of recommendation?

Recommendation letters of applicants should always start with the recommender introducing themselves, and how are they connected to you. This is done in order to provide full context to the admission committee so that they can know

1. The relation of this person with you.

2. Your expertise in the applicable field.

3. Do they know you well enough to assess your strengths accurately.

What should an MBA recommendation letter include?

Some usual prompts for recommendation letter are as follows:

  1. Please provide a brief description of your interaction with the applicant and, if applicable, the applicant’s role in your organization.

  2. How does the performance of the applicant compare to that of other well-qualified individuals in similar roles?

  3. Describe the most important piece of constructive feedback you have given the applicant. Please detail the circumstances and the applicant’s response. Is there anything else we should know?

The LOR should tell some examples (stories) of the applicant's skills and abilities, as well as writer's understanding of how applicant will be successful in an MBA program.

Here are some specific things that a letter of recommendation for an MBA program might include:

  1. Personal and professional relationship with the applicant: The writer should mention how he knows the applicant. Was he the applicant's supervisor or CEO of the company, applicant's professor or something else.

  2. Specific examples of the applicant's skills and abilities: The writer should be able to write about applicant's skills like coding, man power management, any tools/language etc.

  3. Assessment of the applicant's potential for success in an MBA program: The writer should provide their assessment of the applicant's potential as how is the applicant equipped well to be successful in the MBA program.

  4. Comparison to other candidates: The recommender can also provide a comparison of the candidate in question with other people who have worked with him in a similar role and how the candidate in question compares to them.

Overall, a letter of recommendation for an MBA program should provide detailed and specific information about the applicant's skills and abilities. It should provide a strong argument for why the applicant would be a good fit for the MBA program.

Are MBA recommendation letters important?

Yes Letter of recommendations are important. They help the school understand how well is the applicant equipped with skills and abilities to be successful in the MBA journey. Most importantly this perspective comes from a person who has worked with the candidate and knows the candidate well.

Infact at schools like the ISB MBA, the letter of recommendation is one of the five important factors that go into the evaluation process for the applicant.

MBA recommendation letters can be particularly helpful for admissions committees because they provide a mature view of an applicant's strengths and weaknesses coming from the candidates superiors/professors etc. Letters from colleagues/supervisors tells the school that how well the applicant can fit in the cohort. About the candidate's ability to get along well with others, work well in a group.

MBA recommendation letters can be a valuable addition to an applicant's application and can help admissions committees make more informed decisions.

Can a mentor write a letter of recommendation for an MBA applicant?

Yes if there are no other options available. It is advisable to take the recommendation letter from a current or a previous supervisor. Entrepreneurs can take the recommendation letter from their customers or suppliers. There are some schools which require two reference letters and at some schools only one reference letter is required.

Some schools which require two reference letters are:

  1. Stanford MBA

  2. HBS MBA

  3. Chicago Booth MBA


Some MBA programs which require one reference letter are:

  1. Cornell SC Johnson MBA

  2. ISB PGP

  3. Columbia MBA

How do you write an MBA reference?

Some important points to keep in mind while writing recommendation letters of a student

1) After giving brief knowledge, the letter of recommendation should focus on certain experiences that the recommender has had with you. It will depict your character, personality, and any other positive quality that will make you the best fit for their university.

2) If your recommendation letter is written by a teacher then you can add such instances in which you accomplished to an extraordinary level or where you showed excellence in understanding the class topic. The recommender can even discuss your behaviour with peer groups which reflects your positive personality traits.

3) You can add your area of weaknesses in the letter which reflects your ability as an individual to learn from your mistakes and to acknowledge that you are still growing. But it should be written in such a manner that it will come off as ultimately positive and full of praise.

4) Recommendation letter of student should conclude with the positive remarks of the recommender reiterating your excellent potential, how you will prove to be a great asset to the admission community. They will self attest the document at the bottom and provide their contact information.

3. How to choose recommenders for your recommendation letter?

Choosing a good recommender for your recommendation letter is one of the hardest choices one has to make. When choosing your recommender, keep in mind the following tips-

1) Choosing a recommender - Academic Recommendation : College applicants can choose a teacher as a recommender, however for post graduate applicants the recommenders must be some professional supervisor.

Mostly, their recommendations are very typical and they would apply it to any student who had excelled in their course. Moreover, they cannot even mention your character traits. So, you should choose a teacher who got to know you well even if you didn't excel in her class. Obtaining a recommendation from a teacher who can well trace your personal behaviour and your quality of overcoming the difficulties would connect more with the admission officers and allow you to appear as a promising candidate.

2) Choosing a recommender - Non Academic Recommendation / Professional Recommendation: You can be asked particularly for a recommendation from a counsellor, volunteer supervisor or employer totally depending on the program and school you would choose to apply. Non teacher recommenders works amazing in respect of discussing your ability to work as a team member and your relation building quality not only with your peers but also with your team head, co-workers and whole organisation.

Take ample amount of time to decide whom you want to be your recommender and approach them with sincere request. This is the finest way to secure your recommendations that will further assist you to excel in the application process.

How to ask a Professor to write a Letter of Recommendation

Letter of Recommendation is an important aspect in the admission process. Situation like now when in-person interviews aren't possible, letter of recommendation plays a key role. Letter of Recommendation is an important document which describes you as a candidate and shows whether you are a perfect fit for the institution or not? It is very usual to feel intimidated at the initial stage to think about asking for your recommendation letter. The one thing you should keep in your mind is that you're asking the right person and you're asking in the request manner.

Who should you ask for the recommendation letter-

While considering a recommender for your recommendation letter ask yourself these questions:-

a) Do he know you as a professional/ student?

b) Have you interacted enough with him on a regular basis?

c) Did you have an opportunity to work under his supervision on a project?

While asking for the Letter of Recommendation it is not necessary to ask from the most prominent or notable person in your field. Instead it should be some one who knows you and offers quality to your recommendation letter. You should always go with the person who has an actual opinion about you and would add significance to your application. You should even consider someone who has an ability to showcase your personality traits. It would be in such a manner that differentiates you and make you shine from the rest.

Here are some perspectives about recommendation letters that one sometimes realises a bit too late.

1. A recommendation letter has the power to make or break your application. Most applicants do not realise the reasons how recommendations contribute to their application being successful. To some extent this happens because the candidates do not have control over this part of the application. Recommendation letters are in a way a window into your management potential for the MBA application.

The ISB PGP admissions team values a third party perspective into an applicant's leadership capabilities. Additionally, there is a limit to how much we can harp about ourselves and why we are the best. So if a recommender pitches in to fill in some glowing comments about the applicant, it's an opportunity worth the while. Know more about the application process of IIMs and ISB.

2. Start early. Usually the application preparation process is largely skewed towards GMAT/ GRE preparation, then we wake up to the essays, and last comes the recommendation. This is a very good reason why quite a lot of applicants fail. Considering that an effective letter of recommendation is an important add on to the ISB PGP application, you must start well ahead in time to review your recommender pool and filling them in with the details.

3. Choose Your Recommender Carefully. For MBA schools that require only a single recommendation letter as a part of the MBA application packet like the ISB PGP the quality and the duration of the applicant's association shall add greatest value to the recommendation. In some cases it is mandatory to get a recommendation from the immediate supervisor. There are some special conditions where a previous supervisor can also be chosen as a recommender. For application assistance from an experienced MBA admission consultant at Goalisb contact us.


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