In this interview Claire McKeown, full-time MBA Recruitment Manager at Warwick Business School, shares her expertise about how applicants can prepare a winning application for the Warwick MBA. Her insight and advice will help you hone the most important details in your essay and admissions interview.
[0:22] Q: What kind of questions should applicants ask business school representatives so that they make a good impression during the interview?
[0:30] A: At Warwick we’re looking for candidates who have done their research, who really understand what an MBA means, what it can do for them, and what they will bring to the MBA. We want candidates who are clear about their reasons for doing an MBA and have a clear career path planned out post-MBA.
[0:22] Q: What are some of the common mistakes MBA candidates could easily avoid during their application?
[0:57] A: Personally, I see a lot of applications from candidates who have submitted CVs/resumes that they’ve used for job applications in the past. Often the CV/resume can be quite technical or descriptive regarding what their job entails on a day-to-day basis rather than giving us an overall view of the kind of career progression that they’ve made and the managerial responsibilities they’ve had. We’re looking for evidence of their leadership skills and we want to see their strategic thinking, business planning, and decision making rather than hearing about their job-specific skills.
[1:47] Q: Would you advise candidates to work with a coach while preparing their application?
[1:52] A: I think it depends what you feel your weaknesses are. I would advise all candidates to get in touch with the business schools that they are interested in applying to and to have already had a discussion with them about what you are looking for and how you can best sell yourself.
I would also always advise candidates to try to talk to alumni or current students of the MBA programmes as well. They can help them, give them their experience and talk to them about how they went through the admissions process.
We’re looking for people who are authentic. We like to see diversity in our programmes. We’re not looking for stock business answers to the questions that we ask during the interview or during the application stage. So it just really depends on what you feel you need to improve or focus on.
[2:44] Q: What do you pay most attention to in an application essay?
[2:48] A: We’re looking mainly at people’s work experience, the progression that they’ve made and evidence of their managerial and leadership skills. In terms of essays, we do ask specific questions to try to bring out evidence of those qualities. So we’re paying quite close attention to how well a candidate has given us examples of those things. And then if a candidate is shortlisted for an interview, we will explore that further at that stage.
[3:22] Q: How important is the GMAT score for getting into your MBA programme?
[3:27] A: The GMAT score is one part of the application and it’s not the most important part. We try very hard to look at each candidate on their own merit and see the candidate as a whole – not just a TOEFL score, an IELTS score or a GMAT score or five years of experience. We take everything into account. It’s important that we’re confident that the candidate can perform well on an MBA academically but it’s also important that they have a lot to offer to the cohort and a lot of experience to bring.
[3:58] Q: What do the test scores reveal to the admission committee? Do you favour some test sections over others?
[4:05] A: Not really. We’re looking for a well-balanced score. If candidates perform really well in one area and really poorly in another, we may have some concerns there. But we accept the GMAT and the GRE and we’re looking for a well-balanced score.
[4:21] Q: How does a top score affect the chances for admission and scholarship?
[4:26] A: Again, it’s just one aspect of the application. We do have scholarships for outstanding academics. So if people have got a very strong GMAT score and they’ve also got it first in their undergraduate degree or they’ve already got a Masters degree, that may help improve their chances of being awarded a scholarship based on academic merit. But we look at the candidate as a whole when making those decisions.
[4:55] Q: What is the biggest advantage to being on an Access MBA event?
[5:00] A: This is the first time that we’ve worked with Access MBA for quite some time and it’s my first ever Access MBA event. So far, I’ve been impressed with the support from Access MBA, working with the team beforehand and the way that they support schools. I haven’t met any MBA candidates yet today, but I met some interesting Masters candidates yesterday. So I’m really looking forward to today’s event.