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Why are Admissions Processes so boring?

"Edu, short for Eduardo, is looking to apply for his MBA next year. Friends told him about rankings and he had a look at the Global MBA ranking from Financial Times. This was a blessing as he finally had a list of names of business schools. After shortlisting some of them, he thought: What the heck? The admissions process is almost identical: online application, entrance exam, essays, recommendations, and interviews. Why are the Admissions Processes so boring?" 

Edu has the correct impression! Though all of the Global Top 50 business schools are teaching Innovation as a core subject in their MBA programs, little effort has been done into innovating the business school admissions processes. Literally, the digital transformation seems to have stopped in front of the Admissions Offices of the most elite business schools.

Here are 3 ways to innovate the Admissions Process and enhance the probability to find Edu as your candidate.

Video Essays

To be fair, some of the more progressive institutions have already skipped the long essay writing process. They introduced Video Essays which consist of random questions posted on an online platform to which candidates have to reply within 30-60 seconds. There are many advantages to implementing this idea:

  • Video essays can be reviewed simultaneously by the members of the Admissions Committee.
  • The time to complete the application diminishes considerably.
  • The Admissions Team can decide how long candidates will have to complete that section to force a faster processing time of the application.
  • It's a more authentic approach to learning about candidates' ways of thinking and reasoning. Essay writing support is common. Candidates spend up to 5-digit sums in getting their essays written by professionals. Those essays might be perfect but lack real information about the candidate.
  • Thinking about the dynamic in the classroom, students don't have time to research before they answer a question posed to them by the faculty. They have to give spot-on answers. These video essays simulate these situations very well.
    Some useful websites to explore: AdmitVideo, Kira Talent
Group interviews

If an MBA is all about collaboration and case studies, why are group interviews not a standard in a selection process? True, recruiting a globally diverse student body provides some logistical challenges for group interviews. However, today, with TEAMS and ZOOM meetings everywhere, there are fewer excuses. Creating case discussions as simple as they might be, gives you a lot of insights into candidates' behavior and skills in a team setting:

  • how they communicate with each other
  • how they show their leadership capabilities. Some candidates might appear as harsh, some as too introverted
  • how open and respectful they are to other cultures and diversity of ideas
  • how well they work under pressure and different scenarios

Let them play! Millennials love gaming! Create a game to measure candidates' skills that you have defined as critical for success in your program. It can be as well a critical element for future career planning. Just as Google posts a coding problem to the world and the one who can solve it, gets straight into the selection process. Similar things could be designed for MBA Admissions processes. A game as a pre-selection tool can create a level-playing field as you can identify potential applicants that you would have not reached otherwise as the university only targets certain markets and profiles. Here are some links to inspire your creativity: Pymetrics AI, The Talent Games. And for some general information about gamification, check this page.

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About this blog: EDU, short for Eduardo, is a great guy! He is your lead, your candidate, your student, and your alumni. He helps you see things from his perspective. You will understand why things matter to him. On his blog, he will pose questions to which you hopefully have answers - or we help you to find them! So, go ahead a explore more stories at