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Recommendations/LoRs

Berkeley Haas

Cambridge Judge

Chicago Booth

Columbia

Cranfield

Duke Fuqua

Erasmus RSM

Harvard

HKUST

ISB

LBS

Manchester

Recommendations or LoRs or References are a crucial part of your application, since they support and provide a third party substantiation of the claims made by you in your other application documents like essays/SoPs and resumes. It also gives the admission committee an opportunity to learn more about you from people you have worked closely with.

The Recommendation/LoR/Reference is certainly a double edged sword that might hurt or aid you, depending on how well you are able to align it with the rest of your application. While a set of good Recommendations/LoRs/References can serve as a powerful tool to ‘sell’ yourself to the admission committee, a mismatched set of Recommendations/LoRs/recos (even if they are complimentary) might sabotage your application. A good set of recommendation questions covers every aspect of the applicant - strengths, weaknesses, areas for improvement, leadership potential, interpersonal skills, vision, goals, performance comparison with peers, analytical abilities, creativity etc. Write credibly and convincingly; in case your ratings for all parameters are exceptional/outstanding have a good explanation to back each of it. A claim without substantiation is less credible.

It is vital that you ensure that none of your Recommendations/LoRs/References contradict any part of your application. Generally, being truthful throughout is a good idea. Though repeating information form the essays is not a good idea, ensuring that the Recommendation/LoR/References complement your essays can do you good.

It is also equally important to choose the right recommender or referee. Look for a person who can credibly support your achievements and abilities - choose somebody who has witnessed these aspects of you academically, professionally or personally. And be clear about what you want them to express in the Recommendations/LoRs/recos. It is not the designation of the recommender or referee that matters, but how much he knows you and is in a position to comment on your skills and contributions is what counts. In most cases, the best choice is your reporting officer or your supervisor - that person who reviews, commends, evaluates and appraises your work closely and regularly. Most schools require an explanation when the recommendation is not from your immediate supervisor.

Michigan Ross

Minnesota Carlson

MIT Sloan

Nanyang

Northwestern Kellogg

NYU Stern

Tuck Dartmouth

UCLA Anderson

UNC Kenan-Flagler

Virginia Darden

Wharton

York Schulich

Haas School of Business - University of California, Berkeley - USA

Berkeley Haas MBA Application Recommendation Questions

1. Are you, or have you been, the applicant’s direct supervisor? If not, what is the nature of your relationship?

2. How long have you known the applicant? How frequent is (was) your interaction with the applicant?

3. How does the applicant’s performance compare with that of his or her peers?

4. How effective are the applicant’s interpersonal skills?

5. What are the applicant’s three greatest strengths? Cite specific examples.

6. What are the applicant’s three greatest weaknesses or areas in need of improvement? Cite specific examples.

7. What significant contribution has the applicant made to your organization?

8. Please comment on the applicant’s potential for leading an organization.

9. Please give us your appraisal of the applicant in terms of the traits listed below. Compare the applicant with others whom you know have applied to business school or with individuals who are being groomed for leadership positions within your organization. It should be extremely rare for any candidate to receive “truly exceptional” in all areas, and unusual for a candidate to receive either “superior” or “truly exceptional” in all areas.

Judge Business School, Cambridge University, Cambridge UK

Cambridge Judge MBA Application Letter of Reference Questions

Peer Letter of Reference

1. Elaborate and / or provide us with concrete examples if you have rated the applicant as below average, outstanding or exceptional on any of the qualities in the table above.

2. Describe what you like most and least bout working with the applicant.

3. Tell us about any particular weakness the candidate has compared to other peers /team members that you regularly work with.

4. Describe the applicant's attitude and behavior when working with: (a) managers/supervisors (b) peers (c) subordinates.

5. Suggest what you think the applicant will be doing in ten years.

Pro Letter of Reference

1. Elaborate and / or provide us with concrete examples if you have rated the applicant as below average, outstanding or exceptional on any of the qualities in the table above.

2. Tell us about any particular weakness the candidate has compared to her or his peers group.

3. Describe the applicant's attitude and behavior when working with: (a) managers/supervisors (b) peers (c) subordinates.

4. Tell us whether the applicant has real leadership potential; what do you think will be her or his biggest challenge in leading a large group of people?

Booth School of Business - University of Chicago, Chicago - USA

Chicago Booth MBA Application Recommendation

Chicago Booth requires two letters of recommendation. Letters of recommendation provide critical insight into how others view you and about the contributions you make to a given organization. The admissions committee requires one professional recommendation from a direct supervisor. This does not have to be a current supervisor, although that is preferred. We do not recommend a peer or co-worker recommendation in lieu of a direct supervisor. We want to hear from someone who can assess your strengths and weaknesses in a professional context and in relation to others in your position. If you work for a family business or own your own company, please try to secure a letter from a client or bank/investor that does business with you.

The second letter of recommendation can also be written by a colleague but that is not required. If you would like to provide a recommendation that extends beyond your work environment you are welcome to do so. Examples may include, but are not limited to, a mentor, a professor, or a person you work with in a volunteer capacity. These letters may offer a different perspective on your talents outside of your professional environment.

Whomever you choose to write your recommendation make sure he/she knows you well and can offer specific examples of your performance and contributions to the organization. Avoid choosing a recommender simply based on his /her title. We are more concerned with content and substance of the recommendation than the stature of the recommender.

Columbia Business School, Columbia - USA

Columbia MBA Application Recommendation Questions

1. What is your relationship to, and how long have you known the applicant? Is this person still employed by your organization? (Yes/No) If “No,” when did he/she depart? (e.g., August 1999)

2. Provide a short list of adjectives which describe the applicant’s strengths.

3. How does the applicant’s performance compare with that of his or her peers?

4. How has the applicant grown during his/her employment with you? Please comment on the applicant’s maturity.

5. Comment on the applicant’s ability to work with others, including superiors, peers and subordinates. If the tables were reversed, would you enjoy working for the applicant?

6. In what ways could the applicant improve professionally? How does he/she accept constructive criticism?

7. How well has the applicant made use of available opportunities? Consider his or her initiative, curiosity and motivation.

8. Comment on your observations of the applicant’s ethical behavior.

9. What do you think motivates the candidate’s application to the MBA program at Columbia Business School? Do you feel the applicant is realistic in his/her professional ambitions?

10. Are there any other matters which you feel we should know about the applicant?

Cranfield School of Management, Cranfield University, Bedford - UK

Cranfield MBA Application Business Reference Questions

1. Please describe in what capacity you know the applicant

2. How long have you known the applicant (years)?

3. Please briefly describe the applicant’s main strengths and any weaknesses.

4. Are you aware of any circumstances which might affect the applicant’s performance on an intensive and demanding programme?

5. Please rank the applicant on the following scale where 1 is very poor and 5 is excellent: Technical Competence, Perseverance and motivation, Emotional maturity, Verbal communication, Ability to work with others, Potential as a manager, Overall assessment

6. Please provide a brief explanation of your ranking of the applicant’s potential as a manager.

7. Are there any other factors which you believe should be drawn to the attention of the Admissions Committee in assessing the suitability of this candidate?

Academic Reference Questions

1. Please describe in what capacity you know the applicant

2. How long have you known the applicant (years)?

3. Please briefly describe the applicant’s main strengths and any weaknesses.

4. Are you aware of any circumstances which might affect the applicant’s performance on an intensive and demanding programme?

5. Please rank the applicant on the following scale where 1 is very poor and 5 is excellent: Academic ability, Perseverance and motivation, Emotional maturity and stability, Verbal communications, Ability to work with others, Overall assessment

6. Please provide a brief explanation of your ranking of the applicant’s potential as a manager.

7. Are there any other factors which you believe should be drawn to the attention of the Admissions Committee in assessing the suitability of this candidate?

The Fuqua School of Business - Duke University, North Carolina - USA

Duke Fuqua MBA Application Recommendation Questions

1. Comment on the applicant's interpersonal skills (effectiveness in establishing and maintaining relationships; working with supervisors, peers, and subordinates; willingness to work in a team environment). (Limit 2000 characters)

2. What do you consider the applicant's three primary talents or strengths? Please provide examples, if relevant. (Limit 2000 characters)

3. In what areas does the applicant need improvement or growth? If you have had the opportunity to provide the applicant with constructive feedback, please provide specific examples of the feedback and the applicant’s response to it. (Limit 2000 characters)

4. If you would like to provide any further comments you feel would aid the committee in the evaluation of the applicant, you may attach additional information. Please compose your comments off-line and upload here.

RSM Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University, Rotterdam - Netherlands

Erasmus RSM MBA Application Recommendation Questions

1. How long and what capacity have you known the applicant?

2. What is your opinion of the candidate's motivation and sustainability for a career in management?

3. What do you consider as his or her principal qualities and weaknesses?

4. Please comment on the candidates' interpersonal skills (such as performance in team environment, working with peers, subordinates and supervisors).

5. Please add any further remarks on the candidate that you consider relevant.

6. Please evaluate the candidate in the categories listed below. Where possible, appraisals should be made in comparison with the abilities of postgraduate students from your experience.

Leadership potential, Intellectual capacity, Creativity, Oral Communication Skills, Written Communication Skills, Analytical capacity, Energy and drive, Capacity to work effectively without guidance, Capacity for organization and for working effectively with others, Emotional maturity and stability

7. Do you know of any factors which may affect the candidate's participation in the MBA propgramme? If so, please give details. 

Harvard Business School, Boston - USA

Harvard MBA Application Recommendation Questions

1. Please comment on the context of your interaction with the applicant. If applicable, briefly describe the applicant's role in your organization. (250 words)

2. How does the candidate's performance compare to other well-qualified individuals in similar roles? (250 words)

3. Please describe the most important piece of constructive feedback you have given the applicant. Please detail the circumstances and the applicant's response. (250 words)

3. Please make additional statements about the applicant's performance, potential, or personal qualities you believe would be helpful to the MBA Admissions Board. (250 words)

Hong Kong UST Business School, Hongkong

HKUST MBA Application Recommendation Questions

1. How long have you known the applicant and in what context? Please comment on the frequency of your interaction.

2. What are the applicant’s principal strengths?

3. In what areas can the applicant improve?

4. In your opinion, has the applicant given careful consideration to his or her plans for entry into the MBA programme?

5. Please use the following scale to compare the applicant with others* you have known during your professional career. * Indicate the peer reference group to which the applicant is compared:

Intellectual ability, Analytical ability, Leadership skills, Ability to work with others, Compassion, Self confidence, Maturity, Initiative, Creativity, Persistence and drive, Oral communication skills, Written communication skills, Overall Rating of Candidate

6. Please comment on the ratings above and feel free to make additional statements concerning the applicant’s accomplishments, managerial potential, and other personal qualities.

ISB - Indian School of Business, Hyderabad - India

ISB PGP Application Evaluation Questions

1. Under what circumstances and for how long have you known the applicant? (50 words maximum)

2. Please rate the applicant's achievements when compared to those of his or her peers and mention the reference group with which you are making these comparisons. (100 words maximum)

3. Please describe, in brief, situations where the applicant displayed signs of leadership abilities and team skills. (200 words maximum)

4. Please mention two consistent strengths of the applicant and if possible provide instances where she/he demonstrated these strengths. (200 words maximum)

5. Please indicate two areas where the applicant has shown learning and improvement which would add value to his application to the ISB. (100 words maximum)

6. Please provide any other comments that you consider are relevant to the applicant's admission to the ISB, especially regarding the applicant's career in business/management. (200 words maximum)

LBS - London Business School, London - UK

LBS MBA Application Recommendation Questions

1. How long have you known the applicant and in what connection?

2. What do you consider to be the applicant’s major talents and strengths?

3. What do you consider to be the applicant’s major weaknesses or areas for improvement?

4. In what developmental areas has the applicant changed most over time?

5. What will this individual be doing in 10 years? Why?

6. Please elaborate either below or in a separate letter on the ratings you have assigned above (in the form) and comment on how the applicant will contribute to the Programme. Please also make any additional comments concerning this applicant which you believe would be helpful to the Admissions Committee. These comments should not exceed 2 pages.

Manchester Business School, The University of Manchester, Manchester - UK

Manchester MBA Application Recommendation Questions

1. How long and in what capacity have you known the candidate?

2. If this is an academic reference, what grade of degree was the candidate awarded? Please indicate position in class. or If this is a work related reference, in what position is/was the candidate employed and for how long?

3. Please evaluate the candidate in terms of the qualities below

Intellectual or academic ability, Competence in current position, Oral communication skills, Written communication skills, Analytical skills, Leadership skills, Teamwork skills, Initiative/problem solving skills, Creative/innovative, Social skills, Maturity, Candidate’s future management potential

4. Please elaborate below or in a separate letter on the evaluation you have given above and provide any additional clarification about the applicant, which you consider would be helpful to the Admissions Committee.

5. What do you consider to be the candidate’s principal strengths/talents?

6. What do you consider to be the candidate’s weaknesses or areas that need improvement?

7. What is your opinion of the candidate’s motivation towards, and suitability for a career in management?

Stephen M. Ross of Business - University of Michigan, Michigan - USA

Michigan Ross MBA Application Recommendation Questions

1. Please describe your relationship to the applicant, and describe the circumstances under which you have known the applicant.

2. What do you consider the applicant’s primary talents or strengths?

3. In what areas does the applicant need improvement or growth? How would you describe the applicant’s insight into these areas?

4. How do the applicant’s personal or professional characteristics stand out positively or negatively from others who are in a similar capacity?

5. What one quality of the applicant do you wish all of your staff possessed? If you could change one thing about the applicant, what would it be?

6. Please feel free to provide any other information you think is relevant to our evaluation.

Carlson School of Management - University of Minnesota, Minneapolis - USA

Minnesota Carlson MBA Application Recommendation Questions

1. Under what circumstances have you known the applicant?

2. What do you consider the applicant’s most outstanding talents or characteristics?

3. What are the applicant’s chief liabilities or weaknesses?

4. To what extent does the applicant demonstrate creativity and independence in thinking? Describe a situation that has demonstrated this. If you have not had an opportunity to observe this, please indicate so.

5. To what extent does the applicant demonstrate the ability to work with and/or lead others? Please give an example of how you have observed this. If you have not had an opportunity to observe such a situation, please indicate so.

6. The admissions committee would appreciate any additional statement you wish to make concerning the applicant’s capacity for graduate work and potential for becoming a responsible and successful manager and leader.

Sloan School of Management - Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge - USA

MIT Sloan MBA Application Recommendation Questions

Please choose recommenders who are able to provide specific answers to the following questions:

1. How long and in what capacity have you known the applicant?

2. How does the applicant stand out from others in a similar capacity?

3. Please give an example of the applicant's impact on a person, group, or organization.

4. Please give a representative example of how the applicant interacts with other people.

5. Which of the applicant's personal or professional characteristics would you change?

6. Please tell us anything else you think we should know about this applicant.

Nanyang Business School, Singapore

Nanyang MBA Application Recommendation Questions

1. How long have you known the applicant and in what capacity?

2. Please comment on the applicant’s strengths and ability to complete a graduate business programme. Please also add any statements concerning his or her potential for leadership roles in the future.

Kellogg School of Management - Northwestern University, Illinois - USA

Northwestern Kellogg MBA Application Recommendation Questions

Please answer the following questions as candidly and specifically as possible.

1. What are the applicant's most outstanding attributes?

2. What are the three areas of the applicant's professional performance that have improved the most in the time you have known him or her?

3. What do you perceive to be the applicant's weaknesses?

4. Please address the following components of the applicant. Cite specific examples where possible.

    a. Intellectual ability (e.g. analytical and quantitative skills, communication skills, creativity, curiosity)

    b. Career performance (e.g. responsibilities and progression relative to others in the industry, impact on organization)

    c. Career focus (e.g. clarity of post-degree plans, active participation in his or her own career development)

    d. Interpersonal skills (e.g. maturity, listening skills, team skills, sense of humor, respect for different viewpoints)

    e. Leadership experience and potential (e.g. ability to influence others, initiative, contribution beyond expected responsibilities, integrity)

NYU Stern School of Business, New York - USA

NYU Stern MBA Application Recommendation Questions

1. How long have you known the applicant and in what capacity?

2. What do you consider the applicant’s strengths?

3. In which areas could the applicant exhibit growth or improvement?

4. How would you describe the applicant’s interpersonal skills?

Tuck School of Business, Dartmouth College, New Hampshire - USA

Tuck Dartmouth MBA Application Confidential Statement of Qualifications (CSQ) Questions

1. How long have you known the applicant and in what context? Have you served as the applicant’s supervisor? If so, please provide approximate dates. Please comment upon the frequency and nature of your interactions with the applicant.

2. What are the applicant’s three principal strengths? Please provide an example of each.

3. In which three areas can the applicant improve? Please provide an example of each. How has the applicant worked to address these areas?

4. How does the applicant respond to constructive criticism?

5. Please give examples in the space below to support any Top 5% or Bottom 20% ratings.

6. If you would like to provide any additional insights into this individual’s candidacy, please feel free to attach additional pages.

Anderson School of Management - University of California, Los Angeles - USA

UCLA Anderson MBA Application Recommendation Questions

1. What is your relationship to the candidate and how long have you known him or her? How would you compare the candidate to others with similar responsibilities within the organization?

2. Comment on the candidate's career progression to date. How would you describe his or her potential for professional growth and development?

3. Comment on the candidate's aptitude for strategic thinking, leadership, and/or management.

4. Describe how the candidate deals with challenges.

5. Is there anything else that you would like us to know about the candidate?

Kenan-Flagler Business School, University of North Carolina, North Carolina - USA

UNC Kenan-Flagler MBA Application Recommendation Questions

1: How long and in what capacity have you known the applicant?

2. Describe the applicant's potential in becoming a responsible and successful manager?

3. What are the applicant's major strengths?

4. What are the applicants most noticeable areas for improvement/growth?

Darden School of Business - University of Virginia, Virginia - USA

Virginia Darden MBA Application Recommendation Questions

1. Please comment on the context of your interaction with the applicant. If applicable, briefly describe the applicant's role in your organization.

2. How does the candidate's performance compare to other well-qualified individuals in similar roles?

3. Please describe the most important piece of constructive feedback you have given the applicant. Please detail the circumstances and the applicant's response.

4. Please make additional statements about the applicant's performance, potential, or personal qualities you believe would be helpful to the MBA Admissions Committee.

Wharton School - University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia - USA

Wharton MBA Application Recommendation Questions

Ask them to answer all of the questions in a single document. Single space their answers. Separate their answers by writing each question at the top of each response.

1. How long have you known the applicant and describe your relationship to the applicant?

2. Provide an example of constructive feedback you have provided to the applicant. How did the applicant receive this feedback and what efforts did the applicant make to address the concern?

3. Please provide an example of a time when the applicant was particularly successful at interacting with others in a team (employees, peers, managers, etc.); how was the applicant successful? How does the applicant compare to his/her peers in this dimension?

4. How has the applicant’s career progressed over the time that you have known him/her? How does this growth compare to his/her peer group? Please describe the peer group that you are comparing this applicant.

5. Provide any additional comments you think would assist the Admissions Committee in making its decision.

Schulich School of Business, York University, Ontario - Canada

York Schulich MBA Application Recommendation Questions

1. How long and under what circumstances have you known the applicant?

2. What do you consider to be the applicant’s strengths?

3. What do you consider the applicant’s weaknesses?

4. Please comment on the previous ratings, making any additional statements concerning the applicant’s record, potential, interpersonal skills and other personal qualities.

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