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How to Choose Recommenders for your MBA Application

One of the most vital if overlooked aspects of applying to business school is selecting the right recommenders for your MBA application. Most schools require at least one recommender, although more and more are asking for multiple recommenders nowadays. Thus, it has become increasingly important for candidates to select the right recommenders to give them an edge in the application process and increase their chances of getting into a quality school. By engaging potential recommenders early, selecting those who can vouch best for you and developing a better understanding of the process, MBA candidates can receive the best recommenders possible and gain a key advantage in the business school application process.

It’s vitally important for prospective MBA candidates to select the best recommenders possible. Recommendations have taken on new importance in recent years, making the selection of recommenders of paramount importance. First off, MBA candidates should draw up a broad list of potential recommenders and proceed to narrow down their choices to the best possible options. The most important aspect of choosing an MBA application recommender is to get someone who can best comment on your skills, abilities and overall work performance. A current or recent supervisor is always a great choice and often best suited for the role, as they can best comment on a candidate’s abilities and current work performance. Candidates should strive to make sure that whatever recommender they choose can not only vouch for them in a positive way but also speak to their relevant skills, abilities and performance in a way that strengthens their appeal to the business school. Mentors and current managers also make great recommenders as well.

In addition to finding a recommender that can vouch for their work performance and skills, it’s important for MBA candidates to select a recommender with seniority over them. Most admissions boards give much greater weight to the recommendations and thoughts of superiors as opposed to peers. Choosing a respected recommender with seniority and experience speaks greater volumes than a peer or friend in the eyes of business schools. In addition, business school candidates should avoid the temptation of choosing recommenders purely on the basis of their titles or roles with a company. Having a CEO as a recommender may sound great, but if they’re unable to articulate how you improved the company or lack in-depth knowledge of your skills and work experience, the plan will almost certainly backfire. Instead, choosing a current manager or supervisor from a previous position who knows your abilities, experience and work performance better is nearly certain to get better results.

Finally, make a point to choose recommenders who can write exceptionally well and have a strong command of the English language. Solid writing and communications skills are vital and can help present a candidate in a more positive light overall. Lastly, once the candidate has settled on a potential recommender or recommenders, make a point to engage them early and ensure that they turn in their recommendation letter on a timely basis. Doing so helps ensures that the application process goes smoothly and without any hitches.

Choosing the right recommender is never easy for MBA candidates but by selecting those who can best vouch for your work performance and skills from a respectable position, MBA candidates can gain a key edge in the application process and finally get into the business school of their dreams.


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