Skip Navigation
  • walking a dog on the beach
    25/11/2020 - MBA Prep Coach 0 Comments
    MBA Application Essay Tips

    Essays vs. Recommendations


    When it comes to the essays, with most applications, you want to give them a personal dimension.


    Read More
  • bowl of different colored candies
    12/11/2020 - MBA Prep Coach 0 Comments
    Tips for Handling Recommendations - Part 2

    Round 2 applicants, now is the time to reflect on the questions common to all letters of recommendation: strengths, as compared to those in a similar role, and a story about receiving constructive criticism. More and more programs are moving towards the Common Letter of Recommendation. Identify the stories you want to share and outline them in STAR format for the first 3 questions, then consider ideas your recommender might include for the “anything else” area.  


    Find Part 1 - Execution here.


    Read More
  • don't tell me, show me
    04/11/2020 - MBA Prep Coach 0 Comments
    Tips for Handling Recommendations - Part 1


    Round 2 applicants, now is the time to reflect on the questions common to all letters of recommendation: strengths, as compared to those in a similar role, and a story about receiving constructive criticism. More and more programs are moving towards the Common Letter of Recommendation. Identify the stories you want to share and outline them in STAR format for the first 3 questions, then consider ideas your recommender might include for the “anything else” area.  


    Read More
  • life is a story, what does yours say?
    29/10/2020 - MBA Prep Coach 0 Comments
    Introspection - The Key to a Top MBA Admit

    This is truly the foundation for all the content conveyed in your application. The quality of your introspection determines the overall altitude of your applications.


    Read More
  • at the center of your being you have the answers; you know who you are and you know what you want
    14/10/2020 - MBA Prep Coach 0 Comments
    Fresh Admits - Why I Think I Got Into INSEAD

    Passing along a few contributions from successful applicants who posted their advice in the INSEAD thread I moderated on GMAT Club.


    All of these responses are raw and unedited. I think you will find at least one or two helpful things!


    Read More
  • golden gate bridge
    07/10/2020 - MBA Prep Coach 0 Comments
    MBA Programs - Location Isn't Everything

    Location, Location, Location! Right? Well...


    When seeking an MBA program, many applicants look at it as a golden opportunity to travel or live in their dream location. They think, “I have to be happy where I’m living for those 2 years, right?” Or, “I’m not much of a country person, so…” or “I want to live in a mild climate, so…”


    I propose you set all that aside when making your decision.


    Read More
  • resume
    01/10/2020 - MBA Prep Coach 0 Comments
    Creating Your MBA Application Résumé

    The Mantra: Succinct, But Complete


    Read More
  • video interview
    23/09/2020 - MBA Prep Coach 0 Comments
    MBA Interview Prep - The Complete Guide

    How Do I Prepare for My MBA Interviews?


    I believe the key to success with this whole MBA admissions thing is research. Research yourself, research your goals, and research the school. In that order.


    Read More
  • students in a forum
    16/09/2020 - MBA Prep Coach 0 Comments
    Bad Grades? Strategize for Success

    Many MBA applicants feel very panicked about having bad grades. Some consider a 3.3 GPA in the danger zone; others are dancing on the 3.0 threshold and then there is the more extreme case of a 2.0.


    Read More
  • kellogg emba
    10/09/2020 - MBA Prep Coach 0 Comments
    The EMBA - What You Need to Know

    Thinking about the EMBA? Round 1 deadlines are just beginning to pass so there’s no time like the present to make a decision. Here are some key points to know in terms of program design, GMAT requirements, and deadlines.


    Read More
  • checklist
    12/08/2020 - MBA Prep Coach 0 Comments
    MBA Apps: Checking Outside the Box

    A lot of candidates tend to think about how they measure up for each checkbox: GPA, GMAT, work experience, extracurriculars, international work experience, or the lack of these things. And while it is true that they matter, the process isn’t necessarily “add water and stir”. Do keep in mind that adcom is reading this application for no other reason than to GET TO KNOW YOU.


    Read More
  • businessmen going for a trophy
    04/08/2020 - MBA Prep Coach 0 Comments
    Fake Goals - My Point of View

    A lot of admissions consultants advise that you have a “stated goal” when applying for business school, but not knowing what you truly want can hurt your success in both b-school and life.


    Read More
  • Blue navigation compass
    27/06/2020 - MBA Prep Coach 0 Comments
    H1B Update Analysis for International MBA Applicants

    Hello everyone, this is a bit of a confusing time to go to business school for international students. Recently, Trump put an end to H-1B visas for applicants outside of the United States for the rest of the year, which incites a lot of panic for those of you who want to leverage OPT – and hopefully H-1B status – to pay back your student loans while working in the US. Understandably, it would be an unmanageable burden to repay loans in your home country.


    Read More
  • apple and pen on paper that reads embrace who you are
    09/06/2020 - MBA Prep Coach 0 Comments
    The Importance of Being Personal


    What I stand for the most is taking a personal approach with my clients, and from there, helping my clients develop a personal rapport with their audience – the admissions committee.

    Read More
  • one red fish at the head of a school of blue fish
    03/06/2020 - MBA Prep Coach 0 Comments
    Vulnerability Wins Admits


    When it comes to MBA admissions, many candidates fail because their focus is on appearing professional, impeccable, beyond reproach, and presenting a strong “face.” The secret to success lies not in your strengths, but in your weaknesses.


    Read More
  • Harvard Business School logo
    28/05/2020 - MBA Prep Coach 0 Comments
    New Testimonial

    I'm not in the business of getting people into MBA programs. I'm in the business of changing lives. An admit is just one positive outcome to this transformative process. I'm so humbled by this recent testimonial that I can't wait to share with you. It gives you a lot of insight into my process from the client perspective.

    Read More
  • old fashioned alarm clock
    21/05/2020 - MBA Prep Coach 0 Comments
    When to Start Prepping Your MBA Apps

    Many applicants wonder about how early they should start in this process. Here is my answer: EARLIER THAN YOU PROBABLY THINK!

    Read More
  • 18/05/2020 - MBA Prep Coach 0 Comments
    What I Stand For / Stand Against


    Several people have asked me what separates me from other MBA Admissions Consultants. Here is my response. 



    Read More
  • 13/05/2020 - MBA Prep Coach 0 Comments
    GMAT or GRE ? My case for the GRE right now

    A lot of my prospective clients are now facing a big choice: take the online GMAT, wait for the offline GMAT to be back in action, or switch to the GRE.


    When I suggest they switch to the GRE, these are the things I hear.




    Read More
  • 06/05/2020 - MBA Prep Coach 0 Comments
    GMAT Habits for Success

    I would like to pass along a helpful habit for those of you preparing for the GMAT or GRE right now. And, this is also helpful if you are preparing your applications.


    Many GMAT students feel that to get results, they need to spend 5 hours a day after work sloughing through problem set after problem set. The idea that “more is better” and by doing more problems they will increase their score.

    Not really, though.


    I have found it is far, far better for my clients to wake up 90 minutes earlier each day and those 90 minutes are worth a million times more than 5 hours after work, when you are ragged and run-down. The idea is to give it your freshest energy; the best of you and not the rest of you.


    When you are learning something new, it requires high concentration and not the tattered remains of the day.


    Have a clear focus on your learning objective like, “today I am going to work on modification questions” – drill down beyond verbal or quant or even the subsections. Get close enough to see the problem.


    And of course, observe what you are doing, do more observation than working problems. I remember when I was struggling with the GMAT I was kind of trying to impose my will upon the test rather than LISTEN to what the test was trying to TELL ME. The test has its own ways and you need to be in OBSERVER MODE rather than try to bulldoze through problem sets.


    My last piece of advice on good habits with the GMAT would be to try out coworking. Right this moment, I am on Skype with my Zoom coworking partner, so it creates a set up “container” for getting things done. Try as I might, I a better at showing up for myself when it involves another person and makes it all more fun.


    We use the Pomodoro technique which I strongly recommend – 25 minutes of intense focus and then 5 minutes of doing something active and away from the computer (no phone stuff – like, a real break.)


    Then rinse and repeat 2 more times for a total of 90 minutes. You will be very amazed how productive you are when 1.) you have a clear focus for the next 25 minutes 2.) there is a timer and 3) you see your buddy working too, in front of you.

    Read More
  • 17/04/2020 - mbaprepcoach 0 Comments
    Interview with Farrell

    To get to know more about me, I invite you to read through my interview with

    Read More
  • 17/04/2020 - mbaprepcoach 0 Comments
    43 Reasons to Hire an MBA Admissions Consultant

    There is a real lack of transparency when it comes to MBA admissions consulting. How will it help me? Often, candidates think it is just about the consultant telling you what to do, schools to select or what your chances might be at HBS.


    I remember one candidate saying he could get the same information by reading blogs. Let me assure you: the free content we write is only a tiny morsel of what we deliver. Please know, there is no way in heck you would get the same benefit from reading my blogs. Others say, I can’t afford coaching I just want help editing my essays. Hearing this, I think applicants are unclear on how the coaching has everything to do with the quality of your essays.  


    I hope this list might bring about greater transparency on MBA admissions consultants deliver to their clients, and why you should hire an MBA admissions consultant. Or at this MBA Admissions Consultant.


    It’s important to not only to look at the cost of hiring a consultant, but the immediate, short term and long-term benefits of hiring a consultant. Including but no limited to increasing your chances of an admit, increasing your chances of a scholarship and securing an MBA internship offer.

    1. ASKING THE RIGHT QUESTIONS: The content is only as good as the research. As a trained journalist and a certified coach, I’m highly trained in the art of ask the right questions. Questions that bring forth the content that aligns with what adcom is looking for. Content that differentiates you from your competition.
    2. MATCHING WHAT YOU HAVE TO WHAT ADCOM WANTS WANT: I get to know you well, probably better than you know yourself. We do research and assessments to accelerate the process of helping me get to know you. This allows me to learn about the qualities you have demonstrated that the adcom cares about.
    3. IDENTIFYING TRANSFERRABLE SKILLS: For career switchers, this helps adcom and recruiters understand the qualities you bring to a new industry or function. Showing these qualities allows you to make a bigger “leap” in terms of role, industry and geography.
    4. IDENTIFYING THE RIGHT PROGRAM FORMAT. I vet your strategy in terms of degree, program format, location and goals. There are a lot of ways to make a wrong turn. I talk clients off the ledge of making fatal mistakes with this. Having a viable strategy and plan can save you a year of wasted effort on applications, maybe test prep too.
    5. CERTAINTY > MOMENTUM > SPEED. I help you stay focused and advance with momentum and confidence.
    6. AVOIDING STRATEGIC MISTAKES BY FOLLOWING THE UNINFORMED: I work with dinged applicants all the time who say their friends and colleagues told them what to do and helped them make decisions. This is a complex labyrinthine process and even MBA grads are unsure of how to effectively advice you. Beware of friends, colleagues, mentors who do not know, what they do not know.
    7. AVOID UNINFORMED FEEDBACK ON ESSAYS: I work with dinged applicants all the time who follow the advice of friends, colleagues and mentors who gave them bad advice on their essays. For example, encouraging you to avoid discussing weaknesses or vulnerabilities. Fatal advice. Again, beware of listening to those who do not know, what they do not know.
    8. CUTTING WORDS, CLEANER MESSAGE: I help you narrow the scope of your message to what is most CORE, the #1 communication objective. We deepen that message while cutting away the distractions. This allows you to be HEARD by the adcom instead of them being confused by a muddled message and dismissing you.
    9. LEVITY. I make you laugh when you’re tired or overwhelmed. I keep things buoyant and animated, which is important because the process is long and drawn out.
    10. BRUTAL HONESTY. I will never lie to you to make you happy. Don’t even know how to do that. I take a stand for what is in your best and highest good. Clients often come to me with bad ideas based on untrue assumptions. I talk them off the ledge. I allow you to make your own choices and will stand by what you decide, but make sure you are first fully informed.
    11. TOTALLY DEDICATED PARTNER. I am a safe place to land and have a fiercely positive intent for you. My entire focus is on helping you get what you want.
    12. LEARN ABOUT YOUR STRENGTHS. Most applicants, even those with a very successful career, are not very aware of the strengths, patterns, and habits that make them successful. Or how they need to develop to get to the next level. It requires outside perspective from an unbiased party who can fuse together who you are, how you contribute and where you fit in.
    13. CLEAR PROFESSIONAL IDENTITY. Working with me empowers you with words you use to describe yourself, and talk about your brand, for the rest of your life. To be successful, you must know your unique value proposition (USP) and be able to communicate it cleanly and concisely. This is what sparks interest in you when it comes to interviews, speaking with investors, and anything else that comes your way.
    14. HIT THE GROUND RUNNING. I actually put my clients through the same exercises they do in zero week in business school, in terms of personal branding, informational interviewing, and your outreach/communication strategy in finding an internship or post-MBA job.
    15. CHOOSING THE RIGHT GOAL. We review all our findings to choose a goal that is at least a winner on-paper and ideally your real goal. We want to pick a goal that 1) makes you look low risk to career services and 2.) is going to make you happy, so you can write passionately about it. Both of these things really help your chances of getting an admit.
    16. GETTING GREAT VALUE OUT OF YOUR B-SCHOOL EXPERIENCE. Having your goals ironed out allows you to spend time in b-school learning, instead of recruiting for a bunch of different industries. Why go into debt JUST to get a job – when there are so many more interesting ways to spend your time in business school.
    17. CANVASSING SKILLS. I help you research your goals. Find the right contacts, reach out to them so you get a response, and write out the questions you need to ask. Even if you switch goals in b-school, you will have built the skills to embark upon that new job search effectively.
    18. RESEARCHING VIA INFORMATIONAL INTERVIEWING. Networking with those who share your post MBA goal or attended your preferred program. At minimum, you have a killer goals question/Why MBA answer and at best, you will have offers for internship interviews.
    19. ESTABLISH YOUR CRITICAL PATH. My key to success: research yourself, research your goals and research the schools. I help you establish the right activities that get you closer to your goal of an admit, activities which are very specific to you personally.
    20. FIND LAST MINUTE WAYS TO IMPROVE YOUR PROFILE. I help you improve your profile, even with very little time left to do. I spot opportunities that can be quickly implemented, which will improve how you are perceived by adcom.
    21. CREDIBLE AND MEMORABLE APPLICATION CAMPAIGN. I create consistency and synergy across all elements of your application – resume, essays, recommendations, application boxes, Linked In and interview responses. This gives you credibility – it makes you stand out, creates a clear message, and most of all makes you memorable.
    22. TOOLS AND RESOURCES. I possess resources that make this journey lighter, easier and more efficient. This saves you time and spares you from confusion, so you can maintain momentum in this journey. I guide you on when to use these resources, and how to sequence things.
    23. MY CLIENT ALUMNI NETWORK. I allow you to tap into my personal network of past clients and associates for the purpose of researching your career goals or researching schools/programs. This really helps you see where you best fit. It also creates within you a passion for the program you’re applying to, that powerfully shows up in your essays.
    24. FROM ACRONYMS TO ADCOM-FRIENDLY LANGUAGE. I help you recognize where you are using industry jargon that adcom won’t readily understand, and translate that into universal language, as much as possible. This helps remove BARRIERS to adcom getting to know and appreciate you.
    25. LEARNING HOW TO TELL STORIES. By outlining your anecdotes together, you learn an effective framework for telling stories that you take into interviews for the rest of your life.
    26. MITIGATE RED FLAGS. I help you see possible red flags in your profile, as adcom would see you. These are not always obvious for applicants. Then, we come up with ways to fix them or mitigate the potential negative impact of them.
    27. DISTINGUSH YOU FROM OTHERS WITH YOUR PROFILE. I help you focus on the attributes that separate you from other competitors in your profile group.
    28. 1-1 SUPPORT OUTLINING ESSAYS. I outline all your essay stories with you, so the draft you write is on track, which saves time for you.
    29. 1-1 SUPPORT OUTLINING RECOMMENDATION TALKING POINTS. I help you outline anecdotes to share with your recommenders, so they share compelling examples, but at the same time, allow their authentic voice to shine through.
    30. POLISHED FINAL PRODUCT. I edit all your work, so it accentuates the key communication objective of each piece. I cut away what distracts from the main message. Greater focus and SIMPLICITY makes you more memorable.
    31. STRATEGIC EVALUATION OF POTENTIAL RECOMMENDERS. I help you look at all the different variables that determine your best choice of recommenders. It’s a complex model, to be honest. We discuss dealbreakers too, when choosing recommenders.
    32. KEEN INTUITIVE OBSERVER. I’m kind of psychic. Even though some say it’s “creepy” but it’s still very helpful! I tap into things unsaid: strengths, patterns and passions that I am intuiting about you, that lead to breakthroughs.
    33. YOU LEARN ABOUT YOUR VALUES – to communicate who you are to adcom. When we reveal who you are to adcom on the level of values they become more attracted to you – the authentic you. Articulating your values helps adcom know “what makes you tick,” so they get to know you better and feel closer to you.
    34. YOU APPLY YOUR VALUES – to make better decisions. Understanding your values also helps us make choices that are in alignment with those values. For example, if a key value for you is adventure, we would want to choose a school and a career goal that allows you to experience this value.
    35. WHY MBA? AND WHAT NEXT. In choosing your career goal, I help you identify how you will need to grow and transform through the MBA experience in meaningful ways that best position you to secure your post-MBA job. This is good not just for essays but helps guide you in making choices on how to spend your time in b-school. Believe me, this will become important to you, because there is an overwhelming number of choices on how to spend your time. You need to be very intentional about your goals going in and be disciplined in sticking to them.
    36. IDENTIFYING THE BRILLIANCE FACTOR. Initially, your stories are like a heap of information, and actions you took. I help you identify what I call the brilliance factor in all stories you have to tell, the breakthrough thinking you applied to solve the problem, to get the result. With tight word limits, it’s important we go down the right road with these stories, so we develop the best angle to showcase in each of your application elements, i.e., recommendations, essays, CV and interview anecdotes.
    37. DULL DESCRIPTION TO MOVIE SCRIPT. I help you go from vague generic “white paper” project-level language to a personal anecdote showing the adcom who you are in this project, so they can get to know you and root for you.
    38. REPOSITIONING YOU AND YOUR WORK HISTORY. I help you communicate who you are and what you’ve done so it can be understood by a wide audience outside of your world, outside your industry, which is what HBS asks of you specifically and is helpful when applying to any business school. And when changing careers.
    39. SPOTTING HOW YOU HAVE ADDED VALUE. I am able to see various ways to articulate benefits and results of your work that my clients often miss. I can see ways your actions benefitted the company that you may not. They are seeing this through a much smaller aperture. I’m very experienced and my background is very multifaceted.
    40. IDENTIFYING APPLICATION-KILLING ASSUMPTIONS. I help you identify your assumptions and limiting beliefs “It won’t be enough” “I can’t leave anything out.” “I can’t be specific, or I’ll seem too specialized.” Carrying on with these beliefs leads to muddled and messy applications where you include everything but the kitchen sink. They limit your effectiveness in creating successful MBA applications.
    41. LEVERAGING THAT BRAND TO CREATING A CLEAR IDENTITY FOR ADCOM. By getting to know you, I identify your brand promise. What you deliver in every setting. From this we come up with an “angle” unique to you, and weave that through all the deliverables and interviews. Adcom can summarize who you are, because we have done the work for them.
    42. IMPRESSION MANAGEMENT. GUIDANCE ON SCHOOL COMMUNICATION. You are being observed in all your interactions, and so it helps for me to give pointers on you emails to admissions, what to say at admissions events, and other informal interactions. 
    43. CREATING EMOTIONAL CONNECTION TO ADCOM. For example, I help you describe your hobbies in terms that are relatable to a wide audience, which allows adcom to become emotionally connected to you. This is an extremely undervalued strategy.
    Read More
  • 17/04/2020 - mbaprepcoach 0 Comments
    Apply Round 2 or Round 3 for INSEAD?

    The number of essays for INSEAD is on the higher side compared to other schools, and I wanted to plan for the application accordingly.


    As per my schedule, I plan to give my GMAT in the first week of October which should give me about 3-4 weeks at a stretch for my applications. Considering that I’m applying to 3 other schools, would you advise applying to 2nd round or giving more time to essays and applying in 3rd round?




    What is your ethnicity/citizenship? Because there’s a rule that they will only allow 10% per country and those slots get filled up fast if you are Chinese or Indian. And so, if that’s the situation that you want to do whatever you can to apply and Round 2.


    Frankly, despite what admission says I believe that applying to earlier rounds does give you a significant advantage. It could play less of a role if you are from an underrepresented country.


    I’m afraid that you’ve gravely underestimated the amount of time you will need for your applications. I work with people 3 months, and at least 2 months on these applications and that’s just for INSEAD. If you are applying to several other schools, you’re going to need at least 2 months and that’s given that you don’t have crazy work hours.


    Is there any way you can speed up the process with your GMAT or take the GRE or something? If you’re trying to achieve perfection with your test score, then it might be a better investment to put time into your application because if your application isn’t interesting then your test score is irrelevant. It’s a risky way to allocate a whole month if that is the case.


    If this is not the case, if I were you I would try to work on both at once. There’s a lot of introspection that is needed for INSEAD as well as research; I think that you trying to cram and jam that into 3 weeks with other applications is just going to be certain failure.


    There’s generally a point of diminishing returns with studying for the GMAT and your brain is ready for some other type of work.


    So, I would start with the applications immediately if you would like to go for Round 2 which I would recommend. 


    Make sure to be really focused in your studies for the GMAT, maybe get a tutor to accelerate things…also, I recommend you get up an hour early every day so that you’re giving it your best energy.


    Don’t try to study all night after work when your brain is fried.

    Read More
  • 17/04/2020 - mbaprepcoach 0 Comments
    Should I Apply Now or Improve My GMAT?

    Q: My practice GMAT tests are at a 670, and I have worked for the family business (India) for 2 years. I messed up my GPA in college but did well the last year, still, my CGPA is 6.6. Should apply this year to a tier 2 program or aim for a 700+ and apply to top European MBA programs next year?


    A: I would recommend you put applying for an MBA this year out of your mind completely and to be honest, I think you should wait TWO years. Light work experience at a family business and bad GPA is a combo likely to undermine your credibility.


    Then on top of this, you are competing with super high achievers in an overrepresented profile group. Your GMAT is really low with respect to your peers/competitors. I would recommend you only consider programs where the average GMAT is 650 or less at this point, if your mock exams reflect accurately.   


    In addition to improving your test score, would recommend that you GET INTERESTING over the next two years to distinguish yourself. Increase the depth of your interests and passions to distinguish you from the competition. Become a multifaceted applicant, join toastmasters, become active in the community and take a leadership role where you can have a positive impact.


    Of course, also make sure to have a quantifiable impact in the family business as well, and search out recommenders who can speak to that.


    I wish I had better news, but the truth is there is a lot of work to be done. Allocate the time you would spend on applying towards building up your profile.


    Applying now would be a waste of money and missed opportunity. Why go to a third rate school when you are still young and can improve your profile, positioning yourself for a better school.


     This article contains 10 tips on improving your profile pre-MBA:

    Cheers and good luck!

    Read More
  • 17/04/2020 - mbaprepcoach 0 Comments
    Is it OK to change jobs while applying to MBA programs?

    Q: Is it okay to change your job if you plan to apply to b-schools 1 to 2 months down the line? I am changing my job because I have received an opportunity in a firm much larger than my current one. The job profile mostly remains the same. Will it help my application/not affect my application/bring up a red flag in my application?


    A: I would not do it unless it is very clearly advancing you in a directly that is more in alignment with your post-MBA goals. And that does not seem to be the case. It’s a move up, doing the same job at a bigger company, but puts in question how much you want/need an MBA to get to the next step.


    Outside of the startup arena, it is a bit frowned upon to leave a job in less than a year. And, you will forever have to explain that yes you switched jobs and applied to business schools at the same time. This shows you did not really have the intention to stay at the job. 


    This puts in peril your sincerity in general, because that is the assumption of those who do not have any other data points.


    The story will be on your CV forever that you changed jobs while applying to business schools. The school needs to show their candidates have been highly vetted and on paper. In black and white, it undermines your marketability to school recruiters as well. Starting b-school less than a year after starting a job kind of signals that something went wrong.


    Who knows how your future job will go – if you leave your job now a) will your manager still be as excited to help you in your recommendations and b) you will not be able to ask your new manager given that you just got there. 

    If you expect to be accepted to a program, I think it would do more harm than good.

    Read More
  • insead logo
    17/04/2020 - mbaprepcoach 0 Comments
    INSEAD Job Essay 1 – Essay Tips


    Answering the essay seems fairly straightforward. However, I urge you to run your response by people in your life (or ideally, a consultant), who aren't familiar with your job. It's important to use universal language that will be understood by all members of adcom. Jargon and acronyms will just be a barrier to them understanding your greatness.


    Read More
  • 17/04/2020 - mbaprepcoach 0 Comments
    INSEAD 2020 September Batch Applicants

    Less than 6 weeks to Round 1~


    My overriding guidance is to first take stock of yourself with regards to the 4 criteria: academics, leadership, contribution and international orientation. Really examine what examples you can provide in each of these areas, and figure out where to include them in the application. 


    Not everyone has to have 100% in all these areas but I would recommend that you look at measures you can take to mitigate problems. Some ideas for that here: 


    The most important thing however, is to understand your unique contribution, that no one else could make to the program, and get that across. Because ultimately good enough is not good enough; they are looking for STARS that add value to the program (which, don’t forget, is the product they are selling.)


    See yourself realistically. Please know that if you plan to “make up” one area for another, there is likely another applicant who does not need to do that. Other applicants are good. They are solid. Keep in mind the GSB mantra: it’s not about evaluation but selection. Will you play the part they need? Who else is going up for the role? 

    Read More
  • 17/04/2020 - mbaprepcoach 0 Comments
    What Other MBA Programs Are You Applying To?

    Q: MBA Prep Coach, do you have any expert advice on how to handle this essay?


    • What other programs are you considering? Of the programs you are considering, what can IMD bring to you as a differentiator? (Word limit 100)

    If we mention highly ranked programs such as INSEAD, will it send a signal to adcom that I am treating IMD as a safety school and unlikely to attend if I get admits from my top choices? 


    A: In this question, you want to pick adjacent programs to some degree: similar ranking and like IMD, leadership development oriented. So maybe another school that has a well-developed personal deep dive course(s.) Or has an industry focus more so than consulting or finance. 


    This speaks to the core of what differentiates IMD. I do think it might be a mistake to put down INSEAD here because if you have the right stats, they know they will probably not “win” you if they choose you. Also, INSEAD is really quite a different program from IMD and so this will undermine the sincerity of your application. 


    They want to know: if I invite you to my party will you come, or will you make an excuse last minute and I will have to scramble to invite more guests? IMD wants to pick the “best” applicants but also the applicant that think IMD is the best as well; their first choice. 


    I recommend everyone do a fair bit of research on IMD to get clear on what IMDs value proposition is specifically for them and their career; probably should be some aspect of personal development, introspection, and leadership. And how industry focus. How they would benefit from a simulation-type learning environment. 

    A good place to start would be the interview with the Dean by Touch MBA.

    Read More
  • 17/04/2020 - mbaprepcoach 0 Comments
    Is a 680 GMAT Good Enough for Harvard, Stanford, Wharton or Booth?

    Q: I’d like to read your opinions about this. Is a GMAT of 680 good enough for a top MBA program (HBS, Stanford, Wharton, Booth) for international applicants?


    A: The term “international” does not hold a lot of meaning on it’s own. If you are international and from India or China, there is fierce competition and so your GMAT has to be significantly higher than the class average just to be a contender.


    But if you are an Iranian feminist – or otherwise highly diverse – ie, from a very underrepresented country, the situation is different.


    680 could possibly be good enough *IF* you have proof of quantitative aptitude and a TOEFL score of 100 or better so they know you won’t fail. Harvard actually recommends a TOEFL of 110.


    So, it depends upon the competition you are facing – what the scores are for others with your profile (citizenship, gender, work industry, role, etc)?


    Because you are male I am inclined to say 680 is not enough for a top 5 MBA and it would put you at a major disadvantage; if you have some really unique unrepeatable contribution to make to the class that would add to the learning experience of others, it’s not impossible.

    Read More
  • 17/04/2020 - mbaprepcoach 0 Comments
    Indian Engineer MBA Candidates – What You Need to Know



    I am an Indian male software test engineer. That should probably automatically eliminate me out of contention for a lot of b schools. In terms of leadership roles, I have none that can be quantified in terms of official roles. I have only two promotions and 5 internal organisational awards in my previous job. I hear that a score of 720 and a run-of-the-mill IT profile is hardly attractive to b schools. 




    Unfortunately you heard correctly. It’s because Indian male IT is the most overrepresented profile in terms of applicants. The acceptance rate is less than half of what the average is.


    So that puts a lot of pressure on having a good GMAT, and also finding ways to differentiate yourself.


    Two promotions doesn’t sound so insignificant to me at all. I’m sad to hear that you haven’t had any leadership roles but challenge you to think creatively about the word leadership.


    If you found a new way to organize the grocery carts at the local market that could count as a process improvement. So really think about how you have added value by way of changing processes, led others in terms of people and projects, not just official roles.


    One of the most important things for Indians is to establish community service, hobbies and a record of extracurriculars. This is because not so many Indians have it/them and it really differentiates them.


    If you are planning to apply to round two…hmm…I question that. Indian should apply early action round and round one for best results. It’s not an absolute ding but know that many of come before you already. You really have to sit and ask yourself, why would they choose you over the Indian male IT candidates with more leadership, ECs, and a higher GMAT who applied early action and round one.


    For this reason, I don’t think you should apply to Duke even though your GMAT make sense for that school but rather wait for early action round next year. Cornell might be a good choice though if you are hell-bent on this year.


    If at all possible I encourage you to wait a bit I would like for you to get involved with Toastmasters and get some leadership experience at a nonprofit organization ASAP…. that makes sense for your profile and seems organic… and then apply early action round for Duke and Darden. And then round one for other schools.


    If you were to bump up your score by 30 points that would be a game-changer for you. So if you haven’t absolutely maximized everything you can possibly do on that test I really recommend that you do so. The better your score the better the school the better the starting salary and it would make sense to wait if you haven’t done your absolute best yet.


    You seem to have communication skills, maybe good interpersonal (soft) skills as well. If so, I recommend that you *leverage the crap* out of this for your application and really put this across. Choose a community leadership role that will bring this out.

    Read More
  • 17/04/2020 - mbaprepcoach 0 Comments
    What Now? Options for Bummed Out Round 2 applicants.

    Well it is April 3rd, Round 2 results are out, some are overjoyed, some traumatized and some doing their level-best not to spiral into depression. Then there are others curious to see if they can get into a higher ranked school with a round 3 or round 4 application because hey, why not give it a go. I thought I would help keep everyone abreast of how you can navigate this time in the season.

    Everything I write about here is reflected on my updated MBA Deadline Calendar.


    September 2019 intake


    Final round for US schools


    The final round is over for most schools, and for international applicants, they are often cut off from the final round because visa timing shiz. At this point, schools have done most of the work shaping the class and will be working through the waitlist more so than looking at new people.

    They might add in a 780 GMAT candidate to bump up the average or increase the diversity of the class and recruit someone from Papua New Guinea. But if you are not diverse, or have a spectacularly high-test score, round 3 is a bit chancy.

    There are times it is the best option. If you just lost your job, God forbid, or waiting for R1 represents a life or death scenario, go for it. Yes, odds are chancier but hopefully at this point, your CV is sorted, and your recommenders have a well-oiled machine going at least for the questions found on the Common Letter of Recommendation.


    Sidebar on the Common Letter of Recommendation


    When scrambling to pull together an app, it’s enough to contend with the essays, but nearly impossible to develop good anecdotes for new recommendation questions, coach your recommenders, get time on their calendar, etc. Factor this into your decision – recommendations matter; don’t water down your app with a half-baked response to these questions.

    Thankfully, most schools with upcoming deadlines use the Common Letter of Recommendation. Kellogg has a diversity question which you should tackle first. Google the recommendation questions; some sites have a pretty decent repository.


    OK, still interested? Back to final round for US schools


    So, if you are reading this soon after I post it; a Round 3 Hail Mary attempt is possible for Kellogg or Cornell a week from today(warning: long apps), MIT in 5 days (short app so it’s possible, but clear your weekend), USC R4 due April 15, and with Yale and Anderson allowing a bit more breathing room R3 due for both schools on April 16, and finally the straggler being Georgetown with R4 due on May 1.

    Yale seems to be particularly open to round 3 applicants; they promote it quite a bit stating that round 3 is there for a reason. When it is a good fit, to improve your odds I recommend going for joint degree programs that have a separate quota, one good example being the Kellogg MMM program.


    Sidebar Note on Age: Some apply to Round 3 because they over 30 and worried about losing viability as an applicant. If your goals require an internship and on-campus recruitment, I encourage you to apply to European schools that offer January intake; if that makes sense for overall life plan. INSEAD January batch, IESE, LBS, and HEC all offer internship periods.


    The point is, European schools are more interested in seasoned applicants with quality work experience. GMAT scores tend to be lower there than US schools.


    For older students, who don’t require a structured recruitment process, the other option is to wait for Round 1 deadlines for Stanford MSx or Sloan Fellows. Both are elite 1-year residency programs designed for mid-career professionals. Also apply to 1-year programs such as Kellogg, Cornell or Emory. One glimmer of hope, Cornell accepts applications until 4/15.


    Weekend and Part-Time US programs


    These are a pretty good adjacent possibility for any disappointed Chicago dwellers. The deadline for the Booth Saturday program is May 10 and the weekend program June 21. Kellogg‘s deadline for their EWMBA is June 12. In Ann Arbor, the part-time evening MBA deadline for Ross is May 20 and the weekend program does not have fall intake. New Yorkers, the 2nd deadline for NYU-Stern is May 15. Columbia does not have a formal part-time program, but their EMBA programs tend to recruit younger than typical applicants (one of my clients was the youngest in his class at age 25.) The Fri/Sat option still has an upcoming deadline of May 29. The FEMBA program at UCLA is taking applications until April 27. Option B for some Angelinos might be to apply to the USC part-time program where the final deadline is May 1 but applications are accepted on a rolling basis thereafter. If you live near Austin, you are in luck; there are several evening Texas (McCombs) MBA program deadlines upcoming. Round 2 is due on May 14. Texas R4 deadline for Both Dallas and Houston weekend programs is May 14. At CMU-Tepper the last part-time deadline is coming up quickly at April 18.


    CBS January Term


    Application comes out in June for Columbia J-term – this is a great option if you don’t need an internship, but don’t try to fake it, you will not get in. Watch their video: this is for those family business applicants, entrepreneurs, those who will not end up becoming a liability for the school because they did not do an internship. If you are planning on seeking on-campus recruitment, this option is ill-advised. Most finance positions require an internship, which is of course the forte of the school.


    If you want spring entry, look at Europe or Canada because outside of this program, we don’t have spring intake here.


    Canadian applicants


    There’s a glimmer of hope for Canadians citizens and permanent residents who hope to apply; among the top schools, UT Rotman Round 4 is due April 29; Round 4 at McGill-DeSautels in magical Montreal is May 1 (that is a lot of M’s!) Both are 2-year programs which is optimal for those of you who would like to take advantage of the 3-year work visa offered to you post-MBA. The last deadline, R4 is coming up for Schulich-York on April 30. Same for HEC-Montreal on May 15.

    Ivey is the top-ranked school, starting in March, but only a 1-year program which means you will only get one year to stay in Canada post-MBA. I have discussed that option below.


    UK & EU Schools for September Intake


    So be aware: the recommendation situation is a bit more complicated if you applied to Round 2 US schools and want to throw in an app at UK schools for this year. UK deadlines: ship has sailed for Oxford. That’s OK, did you really want to dress for school like you are headed to Hogwarts? Ok so maybe you did.

    But there are still May 3 deadline for Cambridge, May 3 and June 21 for Imperial. Warwick has deadlines in May 31 and July 31. Manchester has a May 15 deadline open to international students and a June 13 deadline open to those coming from the UK and the EU.


    EDHEC has pretty flexible timing; for September batch, they will accept applications until June 30th for international applicants and July 31 for EU and UK citizens and permanent residents.


    Europe 2020 January intake + March intake @Ivey in Canada.


    To share a slice of my life right now: my poor client interviewed with IMD in Switzerland last week, interviewed with IESE a few days later, last Friday, and then applied to HEC R3 January intake on Monday. Slept last night; plans to do case prep this week, is on pins and needles to hear from LBS R3 tomorrow, Thursday, and is flying out to Barcelona for Assessment Day.

    So, all European MBA programs are global in nature and emphasize cross-cultural exchange; if you apply, would be a bonus if you had international work experience OR goals that necessitate a global program.

    The biggest and most popular opportunity is INSEAD for R2 due 4/17, or R3 due on June 5.

    January intake HEC round 5 of 11 rounds is due on May 1. Would not recommend you submit to September batch at all, at this point, unless the earth will certainly open up and swallow you whole should you not start in September.


    IMD R2 is May 1; this is a program designed for older adults, the average age is 31; the same as HEC.   


    RSM-Erasmus: Round 1 just passed yesterday, Round 2 is June 4. please make sure to apply here if you have any interest in green energy. Check out the Erasmus Center for Future Energy Business.


    EDHEC is accepting applications for January batch until November 15 and for UK and EU citizens, until December 5. The school has campuses in London, Singapore, and throughout Northern France. They are ranked #1 in finance in France; their MS in Finance is ranked #1 worldwide.


    IE Madrid: there is rolling admissions for IE “IMBA” or international MBA. When it comes to IE, I feel it is a case of buy low sell high. There was a kerfuffle with regards to multiple votes being submitted to the Financial Times in 2017 which caused them to be unranked in 2018, ouch. And for 2019 they have fallen #31 globally when they were ranked #8 globally in 2017.


    The PR issue is there, but I think the fundamentals are in place for them to rebound. Very reputable for entrepreneurship, and they have the strongest “online” (well, hybrid-ish) MBA program out there.


    Important note: my greatest concern is that Prodigy is no longer a lender for them, from what I understand, at least for India. Unsure about other parts of the world, so heads up, please investigate that before applying. I am looking to get clarification on that from my Prodigy contact. That said, Spanish banks are willing to finance international applicants which is a real vote of confidence.


    IVEY Western – Canada


    It’s is the top program in Canada, and uses the case method, a huge bonus in my book. However, it’s a 1-year program so that will only afford you a 1-year post-MBA visa. Ivey starts in March so they are earlier in their cycle and that will improve your chances. The next “deadline” is April 8; however, admissions are rolling. Would recommend you get it in ASAP but definitely before Round 3 deadline on July 15 to have the greatest advantage.

    And of course, Executive MBA programs are a great option for those seeking an MBA more to maximize their current path and climb the ranks, rather than change industries altogether. They are not for career switchers though; so, if you are a switching hopeful 31 or older, absolutely apply to European programs for January intake.


    I hope you find the ideal fit somewhere in there – and if you do end up waiting, really leverage your time to improve your application.




    Read More
  • 17/04/2020 - mbaprepcoach 0 Comments
    MBA Admissions Interviews: Thank You Notes

    First of all, definitely send one, within 24 hours. Optimally not like 30 minutes after the interview; it seems more sincere if you have done some reflection. But no later than 24 hours.  


    As for the content. Show you were listening. Highlight anything they said that left you with a 1) strong positive impression of the school, and 2) anything you felt particularly resonated with your values or strengths.


    Also, note something you might have forgotten that you think is important, after reflecting on the conversation. A datapoint you think would help establish fit/rapport.


    I encourage my applicants to be as specific as possible, rather than make general statements or impression. Like when you mentioned XYZ I thought to myself XYZ. More so than “it was great to hear that the culture there is collaborative.” zzzzz


    When it feels natural, quote or paraphrase them to show that you have the capability to listen to other people and their experiences. This makes you look like a more attractive learning team member, and nothing is worse than having a dkhead self-centered learning team member. A lot of these alumni are, in part, out to protect the experiences of their future alumni.


    And finally, many people ask me if they do not reply to their thank you note, does that mean they are dinged? Or if they do, does that mean they are in?


    Well, if they send back something like, “rooting for you!” it might be unlikely they submitted negative feedback unless this person is a straight up sociopath. But I dont want to scare thank you senders who dont get a response. 


    Many interviewers feel its important to be proper: avoid any illusion of bias or “hinting.” Writing back might not seem proper to them. They are afraid of attracting an applicant-stalker. Who knows. 


    But, keep in mind they might smile to themselves when receiving your note. In sum, write the note. It’s a way to solidify your value proposition in their mind and to show them you “get it” when it comes to the business world and being civilized. 


    PS: For more guidance, research HBS post-interview reflection samples.

    Hope that helps. Good luck!

    Read More
  • 17/04/2020 - mbaprepcoach 0 Comments
    IMD Assessment Day and the end of an era

    I kind of feel like I am sending my kid off to kindergarten, even though he is 33. It’s been a long process preparing my candidate…as of late, for his interview at IMD…but also so rewarding, navigating all the questions has allowed us bring about a more concrete vision and path for his future.


    So, by preparing for interview, it has been a quest into many other areas. how is your post-MBA goal job going to make you happy? Why aren’t you just going for it now? How can you do more of what you love and less of what you don’t? Given that IMD is known as highly introspective leadership program I’m glad for it.


    Now he’s in Switzerland, prepping for the case analysis tomorrow and Friday is Assessment Day at IMD. It’s so surreal that he made his way from the middle east to Geneva to Lausanne in a matter of a few hours and now he’s sitting in a hotel room, eating his $22 burger, practicing his French, looking out on to a lake.


    So much work has gone into this process, some days easier than others. We have done a ton of introspection, figuring out his brand, values, what separates him and now he’s standing at the station waiting to get on the train (figuratively.) 


    I can’t imagine how I would feel being in a foreign country and then being asked to deliver a presentation, do a case analysis with your competitors, do a 1-1 interview, then the alumni interview over lunch…’s a long a$$ day y’all.


    Maybe I can imagine it; I had to argue my thesis in front a panel of French professors but it was at the end of the semester, when I could finally speak the language fluent-ish. So, I am sure it is a bit like that but they are asking for him to jump, hum, bark and dance all in the same show.


    Then, back to work on Monday and he’s interviewing with IESE on Friday, thankfully via Skype. I think the bulk of the work is behind us thankfully. I am feeling a bit confused like now what? We have been saddled up side by side for several months, it will be a little weird to put this level of focus on other clients. Maybe I will feel better once he has his first acceptance letter; or maybe it will be that much harder.

    Read More
  • 17/04/2020 - mbaprepcoach 0 Comments
    MBA Interview Prep – The Complete Guide

    How Do I Prepare for My MBA Interviews?


    I believe the key to success with this whole MBA admissions thing is research: research yourself, research your goals, and research the school, in that order.


    Research yourself: self-reflection, understanding your strengths and weaknesses, knowing what culture best suits you, understanding your values, and knowing your USP: unique selling proposition. What your brand is, meaning, what you are known for and deliver in every setting.


    This is what makes both your essays and interview responses have depth and feeling. Robotic and superficial responses will not make them root for you. Like all aspects of this process, the objective is to HELP THEM GET TO KNOW YOU.


    So to do that, you must know yourself. Some people say they don’t want the coaching, just help with their essays. Without doing the introspection, the essays will fail in helping the admissions committee get to know you. 


    All of this is critical, this is a large part of the work I do with clients. And what they feel is most long-lasting and transformational aspect of our engagement. 


    Research your goals: make LinkedIn your friend, big time. Think of yourself as a product and the recruiter is your buyer. How will you position yourself to make the sale? What do you have in your background that lends itself to your post-MBA role? What do you still need?


    You can make a lame attempt at trying to figure this out but why not go to the source. DO INFORMATIONAL INTERVIEWS. This always goes a VERY LONG WAY with the admissions committee and shows them you are a serious person. They don’t want to work with students who “pitch it over the fence” and make your dreams their responsibility. Taking initiative now will position you and as someone who will partner with career services rather than become a problem for them.


    Research the schools: they want to know they can help you achieve your goals. If you apply to INSEAD in September batch, and your goal is Investment Banking, well then you didn’t research your goals well enough to know you need an internship. September batch does not feature an internship, and so they will have to say “no” because they can’t help you. Same would be to state a goal in real estate when the school has no substantial curriculum on that industry.


    Interviewers consider themselves the gatekeepers, screening who wants to become part of their family. This is a long-term relationship and they want to make sure your head is in the right place and you share their values. Applicants massively underestimate how different one program is to the next; their culture, values and orientation. Knowing these things and weaving them into your interview will OPEN THEIR HEART TO YOU. You want this.


    So once you have done this research, you are now ready to prepare talking points. It takes a lot of work to make it look easy. Some decide to “wing it” so not to sound “rehearsed.” I hear candidates promote this approach a lot more prior to interview than post if you know what I mean.


    The interviewer expects you to have your $hit together; we all know they are going to ask you the standards: why MBA, why now, what are your goals, why this school. Have your story straight; it’s much better to have a planned response, as long as you deliver it slowly and thoughtfully. This allows you to make eye contact and build rapport than straining to find an answer with a constipated look on your face.


    Summarize your stories into 2-minutes each. Have at least an idea of what you might say for all the questions you find in interview debriefs. Focus on the communication objective: getting your USP across, what are you known for and how do you tend to add value? Prepare a story about your role in teams; how you have led others without having direct authority over them?


    When discussing your anecdotes, rehearse them on camera for time and edit yourself. Use the STAR method – touch on all parts of the STAR – but make it focused; think targeted rather than comprehensive. This is not an autobiography but a story to illustrate something interesting about you. Ask yourself, “what do I hope for them to take away from this story?” Leave out any details that aren’t essential to illustrating your claim and stay under 2 minutes (aside from “walk you through my resume” or “tell me about yourself, where 4 or 5 minutes is passable.)


    Check in with your interviewer. If they have an open posture and seem engaged, great, but if you see their attention wane or deviate, ask if you are answering the question, if this is the kind of information they were after. Give them a chance to stop you and get you on the right track. The last thing you want to do is ignore their body language and doggedly plough through responses aka “ear-rape” them.


    In your response, have a claim and then a story to substantiate that claim. For example, you tend to leverage everything you learn for the benefit of the whole office, by teaching/training/mentoring. Then give them a compelling example. You have to illustrate the claim briefly – you don’t have a 500-word essay to do it. And then talk and chew gum. It takes some work.


    Remember milestones, don’t memorize words. Milestones that cue you to move on from one part of the story to the next. However, do not script things. Prepare talking points but allow yourself to speak extemporaneously with regards to those talking points for the most part. Think of them as “cue cards” to keep things flowing.


    Prepare thoughtful questions for the interviewer. Google your interviewer and check out their LinkedIn profile. Choose questions that are attuned to their background. For example, if they are the Diversity Recruiter, inquire about that. Many applicants think this is about gathering information. In part, yes, but the larger opportunity is to establish rapport.


    You do this by touching on topics that would resonate with them. How would they define the culture of the school? What was their most memorable moment in the program? What qualities make someone a Boothie, Sloanie, GSBer, etc.? What might separate one of their graduates from those from other schools? Show genuine curiosity and ask open-ended questions that will stimulate a meaningful exchange.


    Finally, send them a thank you note within 24 hours, if you have their contact information. Show gratitude for what you learned from them! Mention how it developed your understanding of the program and how you feel there is a fit. If you stumbled on any questions, consider clarifying information that you might have left out in the moment.


    They might or might not respond; don’t panic if they do not. They might want to avoid appearing biased. And at that point, it is best to focus on other interviews or applications; trust you did your best and move on. Worrying never increases your chances; create options for yourself, and find ways to keep your mind off things. If you did your best, no regrets! 

    Read More
  • 17/04/2020 - mbaprepcoach 0 Comments
    Operations Consulting vs. Strategy Consulting

    Strategy consulting is a subset of management consulting.


    Management consulting pertains to answering questions raised by someone who manages either the whole or a part of the business. The questions can range from ‘I have been facing problems in delivering my product by the due date. How can I manage my operations better?’ to ‘We have lost a huge chunk of market share in the last quarter. How do we fix it?’


    Now, there are various types of questions which an organization needs help with and each question is resolved by a specific consulting group.


    How do I better manage operations in my organization – Operations Consulting
    What role should IT play in my business and day-to-day operations – IT consulting
    How can I optimize my HR functions such as benefits and talent management – HR consulting


    Most of the above questions are raised by mid-management team members who strive to meet the year end targets set by the CXOs.


    Strategy consultants usually are brought in to answer questions which are raised by CXOs and Board members. The question that they try to answer ranges from ‘What is the reason for drop in this years profits ?’ to ‘Does it make sense to acquire our nearest competitor ?’.


    Thus, the different categories of consultants try to answer different set of questions and strategy consultants usually end up answering the ones which the CXOs and board members need help with.

    Read More
  • 17/04/2020 - mbaprepcoach 0 Comments
    Kellogg Video Interview Questions

    ​​ What possession or memento do you treasure most and why?

    If you had an extra hour every day, what would you do with it?

    What piece of technology could you not live without and why?

    What word describes you best and why?

    Tell us about the first job you ever had?

    What’s the best book you have ever read and why?

    When you have a problem, whom do you approach for advice and why?

    What accomplishment are you really proud of?

    What’s the best piece of advice you have ever received?

    If you could witness any event..past present or future-what would it be?

    What one interesting or fun fact would you want your future kellogg classmates to know about you?


    If you could teach a class on any topic. What would it be and why?


    If you were given a chance to meet anyone, current or historical, who would you meet and why?


    What was the most interesting class you took at University?


    Tell us about an organization or activity in which you have dedicated significant time. Why was it meaningful to you?


    What have anyone done good for you and how did you felt about it?


    Tell us about the most interesting place you’ve traveled to. What did you enjoy most about it.


    What invention during your lifetime has had the biggest impact on you and why?


    If money was not a concern. what would you do?


    Why did you choose your college major?


    What is the most meaningful thing anyone has done for you in your life? X 2


    If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?


    What food do you like? Will you be able to eat that food everyday?


    How have you changed in the last 5 years?


    Whom do you respect most, and why?


    What is your favorite motto or quote, and why


    What risk have you taken and what did you learn?


    What impact do you have on your co-workers?


    What inspires you?

    Read More
  • 17/04/2020 - mbaprepcoach 0 Comments
    Yale SOM Video Questions

    What qualities would your friends use to describe you?


    Please respond to the following statement: “Without Arts, an education can not be accomplished” Do you agree or disagree? Why?


    Please respond to the following statement: “As businesses become more global, the differences between cultures decrease.” Do you agree or disagree? Why?


    Tell us about a challenging work experience and how you handled it.


    Tell us about how you engaged with a community or an Organization.


    Tell us about your leadership style.


    How did you contribute to your company/organization?


    Please respond to the following statement: “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.”Do you agree or disagree? Why?


    What accomplishment are you most proud of?


    Tell us about a difficult decision and how you handled it.


    Tell us about a creative solution you designed.

    How will you resolve a conflict with your future classmates at the program?

    What would you say is the biggest challenge facing leaders today?

    Read More
  • 17/04/2020 - mbaprepcoach 0 Comments

    If this is you, my condolences. I’m sure that’s wasn’t the outcome you were hoping for.


    For many schools, each month they will ask if you are still willing to be on the waitlist, and each month they evaluate the waitlist. So you could get accepted anytime between now and class starting.


    It’s a good idea to consider why you might have landed there. If your test score is subpar then this is a strong hint to retake. If that’s not the case, get some holistic feedback on your application to see if it aptly demonstrates leadership, teamwork, ability to contribute and clear, realistic goals. Then, create a strategy for creating an update effort. Address whatever shortcomings were identified.


    So if you have a shallow leadership record in the workplace or community, this might signal for you to step up your commitments in those areas; get a board position if possible. Then submit an update letter to highlight that in a couple months after you’ve demonstrated​​ impact. 


    It is unwise to send them continuous updates which will show lack of judgment. However, it is wise is to be strategic about using this time as an opportunity to reposition yourself. At the same time, make sure to submit other applications! Worrying won’t help so continue to create options and possibilities. 

    Read More
  • 17/04/2020 - mbaprepcoach 0 Comments
    Rotterdam Erasmus 2019 Recommendation Questions

    With the quality of life in Rotterdam, kind of a cool place to do an MBA. It has one of the best green energy programs out there, 


    Applications are accepted through November but earlier the better, as always. 


    How long and in what capacity have you known the candidate? *Maximum Length all questions – 375 chars – quite brief


    • What is your opinion of the candidate’s motivation and suitability for a career in senior management? 
    • What do you consider as his or her principal qualities and weaknesses?
    • Please comment on the candidate’s interpersonal skills (Such as performance in a team environment with peers, subordinates and supervisors).
    • Please add any further remarks on the candidate that you consider relevant (Additional pages may be attached).
    Read More
  • 17/04/2020 - mbaprepcoach 0 Comments
    London Business School 2019 Recommendation Questions

    Well, Round 2 US application deadlines are coming to a close, and many applicants are seeking a way to leverage their efforts and extend the season.


    Applying to European programs is the key – they usually have 4 rounds, and sometimes a January intake.


    LBS Round 3 is indeed competitive, but for diverse applicants, it can be a means to submit an additional application to a really outstanding global program. 


    Recommendation questions *no word limits specified

    #1 How do you know the applicant? How long have you known them for?

    #2 What would you say are the applicant’s key strengths and talents?

    #3 What would you say are the applicant’s key weaknesses or areas for improvement? 

    #4 In which areas of development has the applicant progressed most in the time you’ve known them?

    #5 If you are a professional referee, would you work with the applicant post-programme? If you are an academic referee, what will be the applicant’s main contributions to the programme?

    Read More
  • 17/04/2020 - Farrell Hehn 0 Comments
    HEC-Paris 2019 Recommendation Questions

    Upcoming Deadlines


    HEC    3          Sep-19           February 1st 2019

                1          Jan-20           February 1st 2019

                2          Jan-20           March 1st 2019


    Letter of Recommendation – no word limits noted

    #1 How long and I what capacity have you known the candidate? 

    #2 If this is a work-related reference, in what position is/was the candidate employed and for how long? 

    #3 What do you consider to be the candidate’s principal strengths/talents? 

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

    Read More
  • 17/04/2020 - Farrell Hehn 0 Comments
    2019 IMD Letter of Recommendation Questions

    While deadlines close on US schools, things are just beginning for IMD. Round 1 due on 2/1 – if you are a mid-career professional looking for a 1-year European MBA register for this info session 1/17 at 9am ET. 


    Also, start considering possible anecdotes for your recommendation talking points


    IMD 2019 Recommendation Questions. *no word limit is indicated. 


    ​​What is your relationship with the applicant? (drop down)


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

    2. Describe the applicant’s role in your organization. What has his/her single most important contribution been to the organization?

    3. What do you consider to be the applicant’s top three strengths?

    4. What do you consider to be the applicant’s weaknesses or opportunities for improvement?

    Read More
  • 17/04/2020 - Farrell Hehn 0 Comments
    Cramming for the TOEFL

    Hi all, I realize that many of you may be preparing for the TOEFL on a short timeline. One of my clients successfully went from a 98 to a 112 by following this approach. He prepared for 10 days while on vacation. 


    ​​Hi Farrell,​​


    First I used the official TOEFL IBT test material, I purchased 1 volume (I guess there are 2 volumes) each includes 5 mock tests. 


    It is a simulation of the real test (some retired questions from the real thing) and I made sure to do every test in the morning so my mind will get used to that (my exam was set in the morning ) since i am not a morning person.


    For the speaking i relied on NoteFull from You Tube , it is a free resource and it is very helpful since it breaks down each of the 6 questions and provides the best strategy to answer any question in the TOEFL.  


    I made sure to do 1 mock test almost every day for one week, and that’s it.


    One last advice, whenever she gets to the test center, let her make sure to come very early, so she can starts early as well and not get distracted by the noise ( for example , when I had the listening part last time , some people had the speaking and it is kind of very distracting )


    I wish her the best luck.   



    Read More
  • 17/04/2020 - Farrell Hehn 0 Comments
    Gearing up for Round 2

    Hello, it’s been a long while since my last blog. For those of you who have not yet obtained interviews to your dream schools, I encourage you to reach out for a ding analysis to get a different result from Round 2. 

    My clients have been doing great and interviewing at all the schools to which they applied with one exception – reapplications. So that has been interesting to experience. I’m now a bit sour on reapplications, especially those submitted the following year after a ding, without a sizeable GMAT boost.

    Gearing Up for Round 2

    Seven short weeks to JANUARY 2.

    NOW IS THE TIME to start working on your applications if you haven’t already! At this point, the best way you can increase your chances to get admitted is to give yourself 2 full months for the applications.

    Please don’t underestimate the complexity of this process and shoot yourself in the foot. My process with clients is interviewing, brainstorming, outlining, drafting and editing. Then doing this across your CV, essays, recommendation talking points and application boxes. Also, you need to turn your LinkedIn profile into a sharp marketing tool.


    If you are looking for a proven partner in this process, fill out my prospective client form and send over your CV to start the conversation.


    Application Box Tips

    Great way to create quick momentum.


    What should these look like? Yummy little candies for the adcom. Sweet and succinct.


    • Distills valuable information about you clearly and succinctly. Elevator pitch.
    • Everything illustrates qualities that business schools value – strategic thinking, results orientation, etc.
    • Employment section gives the reader a clear, succinct understanding of the experience you’ve gained, employing simple, universal language.
    • The activities and awards point to the overall brand that you set forth in other aspects of the application.

    Recommendation Talking Points


    Think through specific anecdotes y ou would like them to discuss and outline those for them.


    Choose anecdotes where they have observed you model the qualities that business schools are seeking! Leadership, teamwork, etc.


    Review each of the recommendation questions for each school.

    Pondering the GMAT Question


    If your GMAT is “good enough” please do not try to PACK IN another GMAT sitting to score an extra 20 points at the cost of the quality of your applications. That is too risky and unlikely to be the best  way to invest your time 7 weeks from deadlines.


    You need time to do this right, especially considering you will be faced with multiple deadlines on the same day. That said, it does not make sense to apply to schools without a GMAT (or GRE) 


    To Your Continued Success! Wishing You All My Best!

    Read More
  • MBA Prep Coach Wait Image
    17/04/2020 - Farrell Hehn 0 Comments
    Q&A – Writing Applications Before Having a GMAT


    I am appearing or rather going to appear for GMAT in a month or so, just wanted to know if I should take the​​ risk of applying to B schools right now or just skip this year’s admission process altogether? I have a rather average CV and my aim for GMAT is 650, my country of choice is Singapore and around in the asia region. So to sum it up, should I take the plunge or not? Thanks.



    HELL TO THE NO. It’s very difficult to build up momentum for an application you might not be qualified to submit. For this reason, I do not work with applicants who have not yet sorted their GRE/GMAT. 


    Also, this will give you more time to strive for 700+. To maximize ROI for this whole process it’s best to go in with good stats and aim for top schools. 


    Take the GMAT so many times that you are sure there IS NOT ONE MORE POINT LEFT IN YOU. 
    Leave nothing on the table. If you want to stay in Singapore, INSEAD is the best school and you want 700+


    Regardless of your GMAT score, you will need to do a quality job on your applications. 
    This requires researching yourself, your goals and your schools to do a good job on this. 
    It takes time. You cant slap some crap together the night before here and make any headway believe me. 


    This is a long journey – and you want to do your absolute best at every stage to get a good chance of achieving an acceptance. 


    ​​INSEAD is a huge application in particular – give yourself 2 months to complete it and more if you work a lot of hours or plan to submit a lot of other apps in R2. 

    Read More
  • 17/04/2020 - Farrell Hehn 2 Comments
    Navigating IESE Essay Questions

    Essay Question I: How do you expect to be changed by your experience at IESE and what impact you would like to make after your MBA? (word limit 300 max)


    Another way to ask you why you are choosing IESE. Because most IESE applicants are also applying to LBS and INSEAD…along with other European schools. For purposes of yield, they do want to know that you have a special interest in their school and this is a sly way of getting that information (one idea might to be to show why Barcelona is a must for you.)


    “How do you expect to be changed” this is another way of asking you how you expect to be transformed by your experience at their school; it’s kind of like why MBA + why IESE specifically.


    Pretty clever question because in one go they are learning about why you need THEIR program (what’s in it for YOU? how do you need them to help transform you?) and how you will be more successful as a result of it (what’s in it for THEM? will you be an alumni who will make them proud and attract foundation dollars?)


    Essay Question II: What are your short and medium term post MBA career goals and how will IESE help you achieve them? (word limit 300 max)


    A bit tricky because unless you navigate this carefully, potential for overlap between the 2 questions.


    My recommendation would be to focus the first essay question around personal qualities and a personal transformation and then the long-term legacy you hope to have. Using process of deduction here long-term is the only term missing in the second essay question.


    For essay two, just stick to the post-MBA job and make sure it is something they can help you with.


    If you are looking to become the next cleantech entrepreneur IESE might not be the right school, so take a look at their employment statistics and make sure your goal is obtainable via IESE. Medium term; the path you would take to achieve the long term legacy goal mentioned in the first essay.


    Hope this helps!

    Read More
  • 17/04/2020 - Farrell Hehn 0 Comments
    The mantra: succinct, but complete

    If I can brag a bit – MBA Career Services love my résumés.  “Don’t you dare change a single word!” were the words spoken to my client who started at Stanford GSB last fall. It went into the resume book as-is. Most of his colleagues started almost from scratch.


    • Every single word has a purpose (pare it down – hence the image!)
    • It uses universal language instead of industry jargon, to the extent possible.
    • One page only, but maximize space horizontally.
    • Give context: provide a one-line company description if needed.
    • Give context: provide a job scope statement under your role.
    • Each bullet is an accomplishment that states a result and an action.
    • Results: ideally, making money, saving money or saving time.
    • Anyone from any industry would be able to step into your resume, and comprehend the value of what you have done.
    • There is space to breathe on the page. It has white space, and the reader feels good when they look at it. It looks inviting.
    • It includes “fun facts” about you and demonstrates community leadership.

    For more tips like these, follow me on LinkedIn.

    Read More
  • 17/04/2020 - Farrell Hehn 0 Comments
    Q & A: Botched INSEAD Video Interview

    Q: I botched my video interviews. Out of the four questions, I only nailed one of them. I really struggled in one of them and gave an incoherent, rambling response. And the other two, I wasn’t as fluent as I could have been and struggled to find the right words. 


    How true is it that they don’t disqualify people based on the video essays?


    A: I listened to an interview last year between a key member of the Adcom and a large admissions consulting firm. Adcom person did indeed say that it was only a means of fishing out applicants who they might have otherwise turned down. 


    It was criteria that would give them a reason to say yes; not a reason to say no. This might be a lie, but that is their story on paper.


    Rather than pacing and ringing your hands, channel that anxiety towards amping up your profile. This way, if you end up getting wait-listed you have a viable reason for submitting an update letter where I can help you make your case over again.


    This means: amp up previous or current community service, retake the TOEFL, get a high-profile or international work project, get on the board of something, or if possible, get a promotion.


    Getting a promotion at work before MBA is the best but the last person I helped get off the INSEAD waitlist…1 month before enrollment…only got promoted to Organizer for the local Soccer Club. So think broadly about leadership.


    And of course if it doesn’t end up working out you have more juicy stuff to report for round one US/UK apps if you choose to do that.


    – Farrell
    I am a MBA admissions consultant who works with clients worldwide. I help both full time and EMBA leaders get into top business schools. Schedule a profile review with me to see if we would make a good team. My goal is to help you create your best applications, get into your dream business school and pursue a career that excites you. 

    Read More
  • 17/04/2020 - Farrell Hehn 0 Comments
    Q&A: When Should I Apply?

    Q: Hi Farrell, I hope you had a great weekend. I’m at the early stages of looking into an MBA programme, at what point in your career do you think it’s best to apply?


    A: If you’re going for HBS and GSB they do like younger applicants… I generally hear from people around age 25, and they have about three years of work experience. 2 years is the absolute minimum – 5 years is optimal and for EU or UK schools 5 years is the minimum. In either case,  I think I would wait to get a promotion first, establish a little bit of longevity at your current job. Just kick ass there. However, make sure that you do not neglect the community service angle.


    Given you are a fresh grad working for a huge consultancy, they are not going to be handing you the keys to the castle so for that reason you need to get into a community organization that aligns with your profile where you can have a significant leadership position. To show what you can do to make an impact, in a sense, the way one would in a startup.


    And make sure that it’s something you’re passionate about and adds value to your overall narrative. For that reason, it’s important to get more clarity on your post-MBA and long term goals. I would recommend that you do Career Leader, which helps establish your interests and motivations. It’s is a very popular assessment used by most Business Schools but you would be way ahead of the game to have some traction on those before applying.


    I’m not sure where you are with the GMAT but you can never start too early with that, because it’s a black box as many find out to their chagrin. Scores are good for 5 years. The trick for you right now is to find a way to distinguish yourself PWC, a great brand name but there are so many consultants to apply to Business School, and the challenge is to make sure you have find a way to get the community service factor in there despite having to work a billion hours. Many try to contribute internally and do a lot of mentoring which is good but common.


    There’s quite a bit that you can do now — take the actions to prepare the CONTENT and the writing will take care of itself. The content is about taking stock of what you have achieved, but also, researching yourself, your goals, and the schools. If you do this, writing the applications will be a far less painful process, but instead, an exciting journey of self-discovery, where you are gaining more clarity about who you are and how you want to contribute.


    I recently tweeted that people think applying to business school school is about writing essays but it’s really all about the decisions you make before you get down to writing those essays. 


    Hope that helps!

    Cheers, Farrell

    Read More
  • 17/04/2020 - Farrell Hehn 0 Comments
    Q&A: Job descriptions on MBA applications vs. CV

    Q: I’m working on my NYU and CBS applications and both ask for a description of each job, without a specific word length. (It’s “Duties/Responsibilities” for Columbia, “Description” for NYU).


    I assume I should include information different from what’s on my resume but what exactly? And how long should I make these be for each job?


    A: The application boxes are there to give CONTEXT for the brilliant achievements on your CV.


    One of the biggest mistakes I see are resumes that use the bullet points to describe activities, tasks, duties of the job instead of pointing to specific contributions made that added VALUE to the company. Each job title should be followed by a short “job scope statement” but the focus should be on the bullets = accomplishments = showing how you do the job WELL. Exceptionally well.


    On your MBA applications, the “description” section is where you can expand on the “job scope statement” or activities/responsibilities. The idea is that once the adcom better understands WHAT you do, they can better appreciate HOW you do the job well. 

    Also, in the words of David Simpson of London Business School, they are looking to see “the level you’re working on.” They want to know your role at the company, budget responsibility, how many direct reports, dotted line reports, mentorship responsibilities – what is this company counting on you to get done, exactly? You have already been VETTED by them and the school wants to lean on this information. 

    All this stuff is often missed on a CV, despite it being important information. Don’t get sloppy with this part of the process, which is often left to the last moment. The school pays more attention to the application boxes than we do because 1) they created them and 2) it’s standarized, comparable across candidates. It’s important to have a clean, edited focused message for each application box. I personally call it a game of Twitter on steroids!

    When it comes to length – quite honestly I like to look at the school with the tightest limits which is inevitably HBS every @#$% time. They are MISERS (shaking fist.) So to save time I will write for the shortest word count to capture the essentials and add parts in red for schools that allow more words. In your situation, if you are only applying to two schools with no limits on this section, include all the information that is needed and nothing more. Make sure to pretend there is a word limit so the language is tight and crisp and easy to digest. 

    I want to say this in all caps and it pertains to all sections of the application: INCLUDING MORE INFORMATION WILL NOT INCREASE YOUR CHANCES. Employ the Golden Rule on this, how much would you want to read here? After having read a bazillion applications? Keep it relevant, focused, high-impact. 

    Hope this helps!

    Read More
  • 17/04/2020 - Farrell Hehn 0 Comments
    Q & A: Meeting with Adcom after being waitlisted

    Q: I was waitlisted for 1 of the schools I applied to and will be meeting up with Adcom for a discussion. If Adcom asks which other schools I have been accepted/ waitlisted, what would be the best response? I want to reiterate that the school is definitely my top choice. I have other offers in the bag but do I have to reveal it?


    A: Stay focused on why this school, rather than why not competing schools. I generally advise to only mention schools that are beneath the rank of the one in question. This way they are less concerned that if they choose you…you will choose them back. 


    If the other offers are not even in the league of the school, it might make you look more desirable to show you are being sought after by one of their competing schools… BUT make sure that that competing school is less of a fit with your goals and values than their school.


    The keyword here is FIT. You need to be clear about your goals and how this is the ideal school to help you bring those to fruition. So that means you need to be quite clear about your goals and about their schools offerings. They want to know if they extend the opportunity to you, it will be well leveraged and not squandered. 

    Read More
  • 17/04/2020 - Farrell Hehn 0 Comments
    Q & A: Multiple GMAT Scores and INSEAD

    Q: Seeking some advice – R1 INSEAD applicant here. Completed my gmat last year- score was 670. Q47(63%) Repeated my gmat today – score was 690. Breakdown Q45 (57%). Quant has dropped quite significantly. I still have the option to cancel my score, should I report it? If so, I’ll probably have to address my max 63% score in Quant between the two tests.

    A: INSEAD is one of the very few schools that allows you to submit multiple scores. I think that you should keep it. Unless you are overrepresented, it probably should just be absolutely fine. With regards to quant, the raw score is not embarrassing. The percentile is a little on the low side but that just means you were in a very competitive group. 

    Some things you could do…use space in the optional essay to point to your aptitude for numeracy in other ways…. one would be to highlight solid grades obtained in quant courses in college, or discussing quantitative aptitude required for your job. And if you have the time and feel the need you can do MBA math, which is a 12 hour online self-paced program that basically certifies you as good enough at math. 

    I want to highlight that applicants often think they need to be good enough at everything – they have to be meeting some specific, high threshold for every single thing…and while you do need to be strong in most areas (the 4 criteria) math is just not going to win the game for you and that’s okay. 

    So really focus and think about what is your source of competitive advantage here? What sets you apart from other applicants of that school? Spend some time thinking about your brand and also what you might contribute that no one else could…the perspective…the experiences…the aptitudes. How can you enrich the experience for your colleagues? 

    It’s really more about a dazzling them with what you DO have than trying to remedy weaknesses; I hope you feel me on this.

    Read More
  • 17/04/2020 - Farrell Hehn 0 Comments
    Q & A: International Experience at INSEAD

    Q: Here’s a quick question. Does INSEAD require International experience? 


    A: Yes and no. Adcom will say that they care more about an international perspective or orientation, but having international experience definitely is good proof that you might have that. 


    And then again some people have international experience but maybe not a very international orientation or an orientation that celebrates diversity. 

    So it’s possible to demonstrate this by having worked with a lot of international teams or people in your job… it doesn’t always have to be work experience abroad. However, that is really ideal. 

    It’s important for you to articulate why you need to attend a global program in order to achieve your goals. 

    I hope that helps!

    Read More
  • 17/04/2020 - Farrell Hehn 0 Comments
    Q & A: Haas EWMBA – Apply Round 3 or Wait?

    Q: I’m trying to determine whether I’d be better off applying now to the Berkeley Haas evenings-weekends program (the 3rd-round deadline is March 7th), or instead waiting until this fall to apply.  I’ve only recently decided to pursue an MBA at Haas and am aware I’ve left myself no time for GRE quant score improvement and little time — about two weeks — to assemble a dazzling application! 


    A: Of course, wait. Give yourself the proper time to prepare the application and do your very best to maximize your test score. And as you might know the odds of acceptance for round 3 are significantly lower most of the time. If you’re not a significantly diverse applicant round 3 is just not for you. There’s no substitute for time with this process. 


    Take the time to work on the GRE but backup plan do as that shows you can hack the work no matter what your GRE score is. Flesh out anything that might be weak in your profile. Take on a community leadership position. Join Toastmasters. Set up informational interviews with the job you want post MBA. Research your goals backwards and forwards.

    Read More
  • 17/04/2020 - Farrell Hehn 0 Comments
    7 Questions To Help You Find The Career of Your Dreams

    Trying to figure your dream career can be really challenging, especially if you’re older and are considering starting something new. It can be an intimidating prospect with so many possibilities and so much uncertainty.


    How can anyone possibly figure out their dream career? There are so many options, each with pros and cons.


    What can you do?


    Fortunately, you don’t have to wander blindly as you try to identify where you want to be in life. There are some very specific questions you can ask that will help you nail down who you are, what you love and what you really want to.


    Consider these questions to be a map leading you to your desired destination.


     Question #1: Who Are You?


    If you are facing in the right direction, all you need to do is keep on walking. – Anonymous


    Before you can figure out what you want to do, you need to determine who you are and what you stand for. A dream career will line up with your core value and most tightly held beliefs. If you choose a career that contradicts these core values, you’ll probably end up deeply unhappy.


    Ask yourself:


    • What do I care about most?
    • What underlying values motivate everything I do?
    • What am I willing to sacrifice for?
    • What drives me?


    For example: I am Jessie, a single mother of three children. I am a spiritual, kind, loving person. I care deeply about helping my children succeed, social justice and alleviating poverty. I’m driven to sacrifice my time and comfort to provide financial security for my children. I’m driven to use my planning skills to help the homeless in my city.


    Identifying your core values shapes the trajectory of your career path.


    Question #2: What Do You Love Doing?


    Consult not your fears but your hopes and your dreams. Think not about your frustrations, but about your unfulfilled potential. Concern yourself not with what you tried and failed in, but with what it is still possible for you to do. – Pope John XXIII


    What are you passionate about? What do you absolutely love doing? What gets your juices going, your creativity pumping and your energy moving? What do you think about when you’re standing in line at the grocery store?


    As you ponder this question, don’t limit yourself to things that you think could be a career. Do you love reading? What about hiking? Does the thought of making a delicious meal make you feel all warm and fuzzy? Do you get pumped at the idea of helping someone make money?


    Finding your dream career starts with identifying your true passions. Once you’ve nailed those down, you can start moving toward the how.


    Question #3: What Are You Really Good At?


    You are not here merely to make a living. You are here in order to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world, and you impoverish yourself if you forget the errand. – Woodrow Wilson

    This one will get your mind going in a slightly different direction. What do you have real talent for? What’s the thing everyone says you’re amazing at? Art? Coaching sports? Teaching? Writing music?


    Many times, a dream career comes at the intersection of your skills and passions. Of course, this makes sense. If you’re passionate about photography, you spend a lot of time taking photographs and thus get really good at it.


    When you combine your skills and your passions, you’ll often discover a dream career waiting to happen.


    Question #4: What Goals Do You Have?


    What are your long term goals when it comes to:


    • Relationships?
    • Health?
    • Family?
    • Finances?
    • Spiritual development?

    In some ways, your goals will shape the dream career you pursue. For example, if you want to be a family man who spends most of his time at home, a career as a traveling musician probably isn’t right for you. If you want to be financially secure by the time you’re 45, it will be difficult to spend your life working among the poor in India (although that’s an admirable goal).


    Ideally, your dream career will align well with your life goals.


    Question #5: If You Could Do Anything, What Would It Be?


    The only goal you can’t accomplish is the one that you don’t go after! – Vilis Ozols


    If your life had no limits, what would you do? Think about it. If you had all the money, time and resources you needed, how would you spend your time? Where would you go? Who would hang out with?


    This line of thinking pushes you outside your normal box. You probably have a series of limiting beliefs when it comes to what you can do with your life. In many ways, this is reasonable. There are actual limits imposed on you by your job, relationships, etc. But many of our limiting beliefs simply aren’t true. We’ve picked them up somewhere over the years and unconsciously treat them as law.


    When you think about a limitless life, it allows you to explore possibilities you’ve never considered.


    Question #6: Who Do You Look Up To?


    The value of a man should be seen in what he gives and not in what he is able to receive. – Albert Einstein


    Who are the people you truly and deeply admire? Think on both a personal level and a professional level. Is there an author you love for her ability to turn phrases and create beautiful word pictures?


    Is there a friend you admire for his willingness to help anyone at the drop of a hat?


    Is there a photographer who always inspires you with his astounding nature shots?


    What about a mentor who you look up to for her constant guidance?


    As you think about the people you admire, consider why you hold them in such high esteem. What unique qualities do they possess? How could those qualities segway into a career for you? Could you become like the photographer you love? Could you also become a wonderful author?


    Identifying the people you look up to can help you get ahead on what a dream career could look like for you.


    Question #7: What Do You Dislike Doing?


    Better to have spent a life reaching for a dream that never came true, than to have slept through a life that never had a dream. – Samantha Pickreign


    This question will take you to the other end of the spectrum. Are there particular activities you really dislike? For example, if you’re an introvert who really doesn’t like being in large crowds, a career as an event planner probably isn’t for you.

    When you consider these activities, think about why you don’t like doing them. Do you dislike manual labor because you don’t like being outside or because you’re in pain afterwards? Do you hate writing because you struggle with words or simply because you don’t like sitting in front of a computer?

    Your goal isn’t necessarily to figure out what careers you want to avoid, although that helps. Rather, you want to determine why you don’t like particular activities. Knowing that you dislike the outdoors keeps you away from much more than manual labor and should be taken into account when considering your career.

    Putting It All Together


    Once you’ve answered all these questions, you can begin considering possible careers. You should have a good idea of what you love doing, what matters most to you and what types of things you want to avoid.


    Now you’re ready to start taking steps in the right direction.


    Depending on the complexity of your dream career, there are some relatively simple steps you can take to get started:


    • Taking online classes in your field of choice
    • Joining a mentor program
    • Reading books about your dream career
    • Starting a small side business

    What matters most is that you do something. Take at least one step in the direction you want to head.




    It’s never too late to start doing what you love. You don’t have to work in a job you hate until you retire. If you know the right questions to ask and the correct steps to take, you can chart a path to the career of your dreams.


    Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Dare to live the life you have dreamed for yourself. Go forward and make your dreams come true.”


    We wholeheartedly agree.


    This article originally appeared here at and has been republished with permission from

    Read More
  • 17/04/2020 - mbaprepcoach 0 Comments
    Consider a statistic or trend that shocks you. Why it is important to you and how could it be changed for the better?

    I just wanted to offer some advice on the main essay topic as I know some people are racking their brain over this. Oxford wants to learn about your values. If it is shocking to you then it’s probably tripping upon some deeply felt principal. Ponder what that might be and speak from that place. Consider that they are trying to get to know you at the deepest level by understanding what motivates you, and examining if those values are a match for the Oxford Community. To generate some ideas you might actually consider looking at successful essays for Stanford’s main essay question which also speaks to values. For the part about how you would change this, I think they are looking to assess your innovative and strategic thinking abilities. Be imaginative.

    Read More
  • Demonstrating Fit MBA Prep Coach Blog
    17/04/2020 - mbaprepcoach 0 Comments
    MBA Application Essays – Demonstrating Fit

    Last time, I promised to show you how to increase your chances of admission by having firm, clear goals. One of the key reasons for this is to demonstrate fit. This phrase is widely used, but not generally understood.

    To illustrate, let’s take the case of a common applicant who wants to enter the world of management consulting. And let’s say they are aiming high – to get an offer from McKinsey, Bain or Boston Consulting Group. But they might also be kicking around some other ideas and (I’ve seen this) investment banking seems like an equally interesting idea.

    The best place to start – is a JOB DESCRIPTION for each goal. Sounds simple, but this is what’s called thinking from the end. Ask yourself, what excites me about this job description? When it comes to the qualifications – what do I have now, and what do I need? How will an MBA help me get what I need to become qualified? Which programs are best suited to doing that?

    Rather than spend $200K guessing what might work, posting stuff on GMAT Club asking for advice from other applicants who might be equally in the dark, go to the end user here. Who are you trying to sell this education to? Who is going to help you pay off loans, and help you establish a positive net worth?

    I would recommend that the applicant contact the MBA recruiter (yes, this is a real person) at the MBB office where you want to work post MBA. Ask about where they recruit, because each office recruits locally, to some degree. Also, find headhunters and independent recruiters who tend to place applicants for top consulting firms. And lastly, of course, network with people who are doing what you are thinking about doing. Who have been in your would-be shoes.


    To do this, I am a big fan of the advanced search feature on Linked In. You can identify the parties mentioned above by school, employer, etc. In this situation, you will probably want to send some “inmails.”


    I’m not trying to sell Linked In here, but get premium, it’s free for 30 days, and this is your life, after all. Don’t be pinching pennies when it comes to identifying and landing your dream job, one that won’t feel like work, and will help you feel good about Monday morning. Because this is the goal, not attending business school Business school is a means to an end, and that end is to get you into a job that makes you happy (however you define that.) Some might say it is to find a better paying job – however I have seen too many people get that better paying job and then use money to try to make themselves happy, when they could have just achieved it directly.


    Write a letter to these people that is easy for them to answer. Please do not write something like, “Tell me what management consulting is all about.” That is abstract, unfocused and you would not want to be on the receiving end of that email. They would be thinking, this joker doesn’t really get that I work 80 hours per week and have no time for games. I recommend that you work with a career coach and put together a kind of cover letter, stating the specific information you are seeking (how to select schools, in this case) and then put together a list of 10 questions where the answers will be more than yes/no, but won’t require the recipient to delve into the depths of their psyche.


    Not everyone will respond, but if you put together an effective email (edited by someone like myself) you WILL get responses. This always seems to shock my clients (quote, “just to be clear…you’re telling me to email the former Prime Minister of Australia?!” but many people out there DO care and would like to help others sidestep mistakes (and loans) that could have been avoided. In certain circumstances, my clients have decided NOT to attend b-school and to instead attend a school of public policy. Or just focus on how to achieve their goal in a different way, from their current position. I am thrilled, frankly, that this process saves my clients potentially wasted years and several hundreds of thousands of dollars.


    So, after getting the qualitative input on the job itself, you think – would I be OK with being away from home Monday through Thursday? How would my wife and dog feel about that? Do I enjoy having to interview employees about what they do? Do I like Excel well enough to build models? Is this my thing?


    If it isn’t, you might take Kellogg or Tuck off your list o’ schools. But if it is, review their employment stats reports. You might discover such and such school is a big feeder for Deloitte but less so for MBB – would that be OK? If so, move on to subscribing to their You Tube channel and watching You Tube videos and video “podcasts” to find out more about the culture there.


    Take note of the values they state, explicitly or implicitly, and in your essays, write about how those values resonate with you, and give examples of how you’ve modeled them in your life. Reaching the adcom on the level of common values is a much deeper connection than most make – and it is effective. It makes you memorable.

    Read More
  • Goals blog post MBA Prep Coach
    17/04/2020 - mbaprepcoach 0 Comments
    MBA Applicants – SET GOALS FIRST

    So often applicants think about other aspect of their application (school selection, resume etc.) prior to considering their MBA goals, and I really feel this is a classic case of the tail wagging the dog.




    To write a persuasive application, it’s critical that you have those goals honed and refined. Background + MBA = Post-MBA Goal. So in order to solve for “MBA” part here, you need to figure out the right side of the equation.


    Then, take Goal + Experience = Long Term Goal. Hopefully this long-term goal will stir the adcom on both an emotional and analytical level.




    Consider this: schools invest more money in you than you pay in tuition. So while many consider this process to be shopping for an MBA program, in fact, your application should be likened to a pitch. Think Shark Tank.


    Why should they invest foundation dollars in you vs. someone else? They are more likely to choose the applicant who has carefully considered why they are applying to the school, and what they are trying to make manifest by going there. Successful Shark Tank applicants rarely walk into the room presented a with few different “options” for potential products, or a generic, half-baked idea. They don’t say, well, give me the money, I want to explore first, and see what sounds good to me once I get there. That would be a ridiculous way to approach starting a business, a sure plan for financial ruin. Yet, business school applicants do this all the time.




    Check this out. For the admissions committee, in this case, *YOU* ARE THE BUSINESS. You are the business they are investing in. Show them you have a business plan for business school. Show you have a strategy and specific tactics to carry out said strategy.


    This doesn’t mean that you can’t engage in big, blue-sky thinking. Schools like to see a big vision. One of my recent Wharton Lauder admits has a goal of establishing a consultancy in Africa that will allow Africans to effectively increase the percentage of arable land, solving part of the hunger crisis, and make the agriculture market a viable means of economic growth there.


    THE EXAMPLE So, big vision is encouraged, however, you need to connect the dots. Background + MBA = Goal. In this case, he had visited Africa, traveled extensively, and has a masters in Engineering. All he needs is a business education – knowledge if marketing, finance – mentorship, and an understanding of the competitive landscape there. The Lauder program allows students to spend time abroad doing these things, so this is a fit. What Wharton-Lauder offers matches what he needs to achieve his goal. But we couldn’t establish that fit with crappy, fuzzy, generic goals.


    So my message is this – set MBA goals first, to show how your Background + MBA = Goal. Demonstrate how YOU will leverage the opportunity – a key reason for adcom to admit you. Once you do this, the process of writing your applications becomes far easier, you gain momentum, and the passion and precision shines through.

    Read More
  • 17/04/2020 - mbaprepcoach 1 Comment
    Approaching INSEAD Strengths & Weaknesses Essay

    This is a hard question, and you should prioritize it in your efforts. The key is doing the proper introspection. Think about past experiences that point to specific strengths.


    With regards to examples, my #1 message about this essay is DO NOT TALK ABOUT WORK. They mention *personal* like 9 times in the prompt. This is the #1 error that most people make. There are so many opportunities to talk about work elsewhere in the INSEAD application.


    One of my R1 candidates has a past history of organizing groups or initiatives that help others achieve a dream they felt was impossible “on the cheap” and provided 2 quick anecdotes to support that. The mantra is show don’t tell. Make your claims, but make sure to illustrate this with examples (for both strengths and weaknesses.)


    If you don’t have a lot of clarity around your strengths and weaknesses- survey your friends and family and ask for their input with this. I use this tool, it is free for 15 days. Make sure to let everyone know you need feedback rather quickly.


    The strengthfinders assessment is also very useful, if you can support the results it with personal anecdotes. If you buy the book it comes with an assessment.


    And finally, there is a values quiz on MindTools


    The key is to reflect on past times in your life when you did well (and not so well) and trace back the strengths and weaknesses those point to. The objective of this question is to give them insight into who you are, not just what you have done. And from this, they can discern your level of self-awareness. With this question, you want to make an emotional connection with the adcom. So often applicants spend all their time discussing accomplishments but are afraid to open up and describe who they really are as a person.


    When someone is candid about their failings, it opens our heart to them, and we feel more connected to them. The importance of making an emotional, heartfelt connection to make you memorable cannot be overstated.


    – Farrell
    I am a MBA admissions consultant who works with clients worldwide. I help both full time and EMBA leaders get into top business schools. Schedule a profile review with me to see if we would make a good team. My goal is to help you create your best applications, get into your dream business school and pursue a career that excites you. 

    Read More
  • 17/04/2020 - mbaprepcoach 1 Comment
    Long-term goal, short-term goal and then Why MBA.

    I would like to share a technique for answering the goals questions, Why MBA, and Why This Business School.I feel it really helps the listener follow your vision.


    I call it the inverted pyramid technique.


    1 – LONG TERM GOAL We start with the long-term goal – the big vision – and enroll the listener into that. This is generally the most inspiring aspect of what you have to share, so you can hook them with this. What I mean to say is that it’s easier to rally your listener around, let’s say, the artificial intelligence solution you plan to create to help handicapped people – than working for McKinsey.


    Discuss why you are inspired to act upon this goal – answering the question WHY always reveals your values. And when you speak on the level of values, you reach your listener on an emotional level. This is important. No admissions committee member pounds the table to convince their colleagues to admit someone because of their GMAT score or a GPA, but they do for someone with whom they share common values.


    2 – SHORT TERM GOAL So here is where you bridge the gap between “inspiring goal” and “current reality.” In my opinion, when you discuss your short-term goal first, the reader simply doesn’t know where you are going with this. The reader is missing the long-term goal, of course, but also missing the all-important experience you already possess that shows how that experience connects to your long-term goal.


    If your interviewer asks for your goals, So I would encourage you to mention the how the short-term goal will take you from where you are now to where you want to be. The idea is to showcase what you DO have going on, and then mention what you are missing to achieve this big, Elon-Musk-esque inspiring vision that has opened their heart to you.


    So if you are seeking to start a company that creates an Artificial Intelligence solution for handicapped people, you might mention how it would benefit you to first work for Tesla, because you would like to understand the organization that brought about a self-driving car and is working to bring them into mainstream society. You could mention how learning from the leader in the artificial intelligence space would benefit you and help your chances for success.


    3 – WHY MBA I feel that this is the most effective, powerful time to talk about why you need an MBA, and why you need it now. The listener has all the context for this (goals) and is therefore, primed to learn more about how they can help. Why MBA is the business school equivalent to “AND HERE’S HOW YOU CAN HELP.” When you see a Feed the Children or rescue animal commercial, they don’t start with a stark plea for your money with no context, against a blank screen. They first share pictures, success stories, the upside, the vision realized. This way, you can envision success and you’re emotionally invested. This motivates you to help them (or maybe not, but – this has substantially increased their chances.) Carrying through the previous example, “I am an Electrical Engineer with experience in automation, however I don’t have any business or entrepreneurship skills. I would also like to learn how to lead employees to they are motivated and happy working for my company.”


    4 – WHY THIS SCHOOL This is like an inverted pyramid, because you start with several years out, having amassed all this experience, and then dial it from the 5-year goal to the 3-year goal, and then ultimately, where you could start with this in business school. Carrying through the previous example, “I would like to attend Wharton because it’s possible for me to take UPenn classes outside of the business school. I think it would benefit me to understand some of the legal issues surrounding artificial intelligence inventions. Also, I realize that as an entrepreneur, I will need to become a marketing expert in order to be successful. I like that Wharton has strengths in both finance and marketing. They healthcare emphasis at Wharton will be helpful as my invention is likely to be marketed through those channels. And finally, Wharton offers me the ability to start my company while I am in school. I would greatly benefit from the living laboratory that is Wharton.” Now that the listener is on board with your vision (long-term goal) and your practical plan to get there (short-term goal) they can appreciate your rationale for you’ve chosen their school. This, of course necessitates that you do the proper research to leverage the opportunity. However, if you had started the interview off with information about Wharton strengths and their offerings, it sounds like you’re vomiting up the website.


    Your answer to Why this School is compelling to the degree that you apply what the school offers to YOUR GOALS. Apply what they offer to your specific situation. That is vital to your chances of success.




    Putting this into practice.


    If your interviewer asks about your short-term goal before your long-term goal – ask them if you can first share your long-term goal. If they ask, “Why MBA” before you’ve had a chance to share your goals – I encourage you to ask them, “to better answer your question, I’d like to first give you some context but discussing my goals first. Would that be OK?” If you are saying to yourself, “Oh no, I am intimidated, and just want to be meek and compliant. I don’t want to rock the boat, I will just answer the questions in the order given” then I say to you that business schools are looking for leaders and innovators. Not yes-men, sheep, or government workers. The interviewer is likely to respect that you have a plan, and the presence of mind to navigate the interview in a way that will best lead the listener to the information they are seeking. They are likely to respect that you are acting deliberately rather than reactively, and say yes to your request. If you sequence the questions in this way, the interviewer will see you as having a clear plan that connects the dots. You will appear to be focused and also, marketable to recruiters.


    I hope this is helpful to you – wishing you the very best of luck in your MBA interviews!


    Reach out if you need help.

    Read More
  • 17/04/2020 - mbaprepcoach 2 Comments
    INSEAD Video Interview Questions & Tips

    The  INSEAD video interview is basically (and eerily) similar to the TOEFL Speaking section.


    • You get 45 seconds to prep, 60 seconds to answer.
    • I recommend that you review the questions below and come up with an idea for each one.
    • DON’T write out a detailed script that you have to memorize.
    • DO brainstorm content for each question, and sketch out the main points. For example, write out something like, “discuss Napal story and (fill in blank thing you did) to keep my travel group safe in a blizzard.”
    • Once you have brainstormed ideas for each question, put it to the test. Record yourself several times; iterate. One of the most difficult things is getting into a rhythm of the timing; what 60 seconds feels like. I have my candidates record themselves, upload to YouTube and send me the link so I can coach them around it.
    • For the “give me an example” questions, deliver it in problem/solution format. I usually like STAR format, however it simplifies things in your mind to just have 2 steps: what was the problem and how did you fix it? 


    • Do NOT have a script on the screen and “read” from it.
    • Do NOT sound like a robot who memorized each of the answers.
    • Do make little grammatical mistakes – it’s charming.
    • Smile.
    • Eliminate “ums” and stuff – but the key to doing well here is to be as NATURAL as possible.

    And all the basic stuff like dress accordingly, check wifi, be aware of your backdrop. For example, do not have posters of naked women on the wall behind you.


    Questions listed in chronological order; you may want to start from the bottom. It seems some questions have been rephrased; I’m including all of them just in case


    • Tell me about a time when you had to speak with someone that had an accent or couldn’t speak the same language as you. How did you adapt?

    • What makes you a good candidate for INSEAD?
    • Describe a time when you got a negative feedback from a supervisor/professor. How did it make you feel?
    • What is a risk you have taken that backfired?
    • What challenging goals have you set for yourself during your first year at INSEAD?
    • How has your decision to work in corporate diversity positively or negatively impacted you?
    • What does diversity mean to you?
    • Describe a time when understanding someone’s perspective helped you to understand them better.
    • How would INSEAD MBA help you in your career objectives?
    • What are you expecting to learn during your INSEAD MBA?
    • How would you fight stereotypes in a work environment?
    • What was the most interesting project you have worked on? Why was it interesting to you?
      Why INSEAD?
    • How would you establish the foundations of your company?
    • What is your management style?
    • How did you build your international experience?
    • What is diversity, according to you?
    • Describe one situation where you faced an ethical dilemma? How did you resolve it? What factors did you consider while resolving it?
    • One project which interested you the most and why?
    • If you could teach a class on any topic, what would it be and why?
    • Tell me what you like most about INSEAD.
    • Give me an example of how you convinced your other team members.
    • Give me an example of how you were attracted by culture from other countries.
    • What are 3 key successful factors to be an entrepreneur?
    • If you had an extra hour every day, what would you do with it?
    • What word describes you best and why?
    • Tell us about the first job you ever had.
    • What’s the best book you have ever read and why?
    • When you have a problem, who do you approach for advice and why?
    • What accomplishment are you really proud of?
    • What’s the best piece of advice you have ever received?
    • If you could witness any event – past, present, or future, what would it be?
    • Tell us about an organization or activity in which you have dedicated significant time. Why was it meaningful to you?
    • What have anyone done good for you and how did you felt about it?
    • Tell us about the most interesting place you’ve traveled to. What did you enjoy most about it?
    • What invention during your lifetime has had the biggest impact on you and why?
    • If money was not a concern, what would you do?
    • What is the most meaningful thing anyone has done for you in your life?
    • If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
    • What food do you like? Would you be able to eat that food everyday?
    • How have you changed in the last 5 years?
    • Who do you respect most and why?
    • What is your favorite motto or quote and why?
    • What risk have you taken and what did you learn?
    • What impact do you have on your co-workers?
    • Describe someone you know who lives a meaningful life and why.
    • Have you ever faced discrimination? How did you react?
    • How do you keep track of your vision and the vision of your company?
    • How do you keep abreast on the latest about INSEAD?
    • You are leading a group project with a team who have never met each other and are from diverse cultural/professional/educational backgrounds. What is your strategy for how to foster a collaborative environment?
    • How do you stay focused on your company’s vision?
    • What skills do you think are necessary for an entrepreneur?
    • What are some stereotypes about your culture and how do you feel about them?
    • What do you do when someone comes to you with a problem?
    • What’s your understanding of the INSEAD’s MBA programme you are applying to?
    • Describe a time when understanding someone’s culture helped you understand their perspective better.
    • Your new boss from a different culture is being offensive in the local culture. What will you do?
    • Have you been criticized for a job you thought you did well? How did it make you feel?
    • How would you approach your classmate who is having a hard time adjusting to a new culture?
    • What are the challenging goals you have set for yourself during your year at INSEAD?
    • How is the diversity situation in your current company?
    • How meaningful should your career be to be considered successful?
    • What will INSEAD give you that no other MBA program will? 
    • Describe a situation where your family/company has adopted something from a different culture and how has it impacted you (positive/negative).
    • Why should INSEAD offer you admission?
    • How would your colleagues describe your leadership style? Give an example.
    • What are the most important values and ethics that you demonstrate as a leader? Give me an example of this in practice?
    • In one minute tell me how INSEAD fits into your career plan?
    • What do you feel is the biggest challenge when dealing with people from another culture?
    • Tell me about a time when you received criticism on a piece of work you feel you have done very well. How did the criticism make you feel?
    • Tell me about a time when you had to deliver bad news. What was your strategy? 
    • Tell me about a time you had an argument due to different culture. How did it make you feel?
    • Describe a time when you creatively solved a situation.
    • Why is cultural awareness so important in the workplace and the community?
    • How do you challenge yourself at work?
    • What will you do as a team leader, when a member continuously undercontributes to the team?
    • What is “meaningful life” to you?
    • Tell me about when you understand others’ perspectives by understanding their culture.
    • What are the most important factors for successful entrepreneurship?
    • What value in society is most important to you? How do you imcorporate it into your daily life?
    • What are 3 characteristics of INSEAD that attracted you?
    • Tell me about an experience living, travelling, studying or working abroad. What was this experience like for you?
    • Tell me your views on shareholder wealth as a measure of a company’s success.
    • What makes you better than other candidates?
    • What are the keys to establishing and running a successful business?
    • Describe a time you had culture shock.


    – Farrell
    I am a MBA admissions consultant who works with clients worldwide. I help both full time and EMBA leaders get into top business schools. Schedule a profile review with me to see if we would make a good team. My goal is to help you create your best applications, get into your dream business school and pursue a career that excites you. 

    Read More
  • 17/04/2020 - mbaprepcoach 0 Comments
    The MBA Interview – Don’t Let Up Now!

    Now is the season for the all-important MBA interview process.


    In fact, and many of you are preparing as I write this! Or at least I hope so? Or..maybe not?


    I often see applicants pour all their precious energy into applications and then blow it big time with the interview. By the time interviews roll around, they are either 1) burnt out, or 2) a bit overconfident about their ability to navigate the interview questions.


    I mean, I put all the same stuff down in my application, right? How hard can it be? Unfortunately this is a different animal. You are being asked to sell yourself in real time, and the questions are often very different.


    The brutal reality is that you need to invest time and energy into the MBA interview process just as you did with the applications. You’re competing against an even more outstanding group of people at this point.


    Rather than thinking this as “getting over the hump,” I encourage you to think of this as square one. Interviews are mostly blind – and so it really is square one. I know your applications were a ton of work and you feel like the interview is your reward, like here’s your “cash and prize” for all that effort! But alas, it is not.


    The interview is not picking up where you left off, but an opportunity for a conversation to a stranger. Now you get to sell yourself in a whole new way, usually, to a new audience.


    In the MBA applications, you are asked to tell a story, give them a chronological beginning, middle and end. However with interviews, often, you need to give them the big picture, abbreviate things, and summarize your value proposition. Here are two such questions.


    Walk Me Through Your Resume


    Give them your “greatest hits” and please listen to this, think “targeted” as opposed to “comprehensive.” JUST THE HIGHLIGHTS. I see (or hear) candidates want to sell some aspect of themselves, getting deep into one topic, thus ruining the flow of the response.


    Stay focused on giving them quick, digestible bits of information and keep it moving. Give them the big picture first, so they have context, and then use subsequent questions to give them the deep-dive on the details.


    Don’t use this as an optional essay to just talk about what think will “sell” you and give an incomplete response. You can’t fool the listener, they know what you are doing. This response is about exercising good judgement as much as selling your experience.


    Write out your answer to this question. When you are talking about your career trajectory, how will you summarize the value of a job you held in 30 words? It takes work to make this look easy.


    With this interview question, it’s particularly important to know how you come across. Once you have your talking points (not script, but points) deliver this on camera. Watch yourself. I can’t overstate how helpful this will be to you.


    Tell Me About Yourself


    If they ask you, “tell me about yourself,” it’s a variant of the previous question and here I would recommend you add a bit of personal information. A bit about where you were born, your family, what drives you, what you are passionate about. For example, when explaining why you moved from NYC to Denver, include something like, “I’m the kind of person who likes to go for a hike the minute I open my eyes on a Saturday morning.” The best answers show some self-awareness or share your values, so the interviewer gets a bit of “who you are” rather than a robotic recitation of “what you’ve done.”


    Pitch to Adcom/Why You/What Can You Bring to Our School


    If you haven’t yet identified the unique contribution you would bring to the school, now is definitely the time. Yesterday I was working with a candidate who had some great experience but all he could sputter out were words like collaborative and international. It was disjointed, and I wasn’t able to get any traction on what he was saying. This happens all the time, native speakers or not. Finally, we identified his USP– working with international, cross-functional teams to implement programs. And from there, we could substantiate it with results he had achieved. And then the most important question – what’s it in for them? Here are some things we identified. When some might feel awkward or reticent about working with a team comprised of all international team members, he would be able to step in, lead and add value. In the classroom, he could add a cultural dimension to cases about businesses scaling operations overseas. What are some cultural consideration when rolling out programs abroad? He could help answer these questions, specifically when dealing with expansion to China, his area of expertise. It takes time to think through the interviewer’s WIFM (What’s In It For Me), and it would be foolish to do this extemporaneously.


    Make a Plan You’re trying to communicate your value. When writing your resume, did you just scribble out what came to mind in two minutes, hoping the reader could make sense of it? Even though this is 1-1, and hopefully turns into a conversation, in many ways, it is akin to public speaking. And it would be nuts to assume the podium without a clear intention of what you intend to convey. Many say it’s unwise to “script responses” and I do agree, however, DO make a roadmap with some talking points. You don’t want to repeat it all word for word – because that would be almost impossible – yet it’s imperative to have a plan for what you are going to say.


    Make a Connection One of the best parts about being prepared for your interview? Rather than searching your memory or struggling for words, you can focus your attention on making eye contact, observing the body language of your interviewer, and developing rapport. Why is this important? You want to reach the interviewer not just on a cerebral level, but also an emotional level.


    “At the end of the day people won’t remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou


    – Farrell
    I am a MBA admissions consultant who works with clients worldwide. I help both full time and EMBA leaders get into top business schools. Schedule a profile review with me to see if we would make a good team. My goal is to help you create your best applications, get into your dream business school and pursue a career that excites you. 

    Read More
  • 17/04/2020 - mbaprepcoach 0 Comments
    MBA Program Research – A Complete Guide



    Hopefully you are nearing the of this research process, but if experience serves, many of you are just beginning.Have a focus. Don’t just walk into the process waiting for something to jump out at you. This is a bit like going into the grocery store without a list. You forget about why you went in there and walk out with everything that seemed cool and interesting at the time. Yet nothing to make for dinner.


    You Now + MBA = Goal


    Think about what needs to happen in B-school for you to become a viable candidate for your post-MBA career goal. Let that sink in. You now + MBA transformation = You + post-MBA job. What do you need to get done? That might mean learning a 2nd language, mastering a specific industry, or getting people leadership experience under your belt.




    Once you have done the networking and research on your career goal, and evaluated what you need to get out of b-school to get there – think about what you need out of business school. FIT is paramount. Yes, fit means finding the recruiters you want to talk with at the school but applicants grossly underestimate the importance of fit in other ways. Six years after obtaining my MBA I went to work for Wells Fargo corporate marketing and everyone thought it was such a great job. I left a job where I was happy leading large team, for more money and the illusion that I would be happier working for a hot, elite company. However, this was against my own inner guidance. Also, I reflected upon the words of a corporate recruiter who said the Wells Fargo culture would be way uptight and stifling for me.


    “BRAND” won’t make you HAPPY


    I am someone with a high need for individual expression, but Wells Fargo recycles a very regimented, lock-step marketing calendar year after year. I had to tiptoe around corporate leadership – as was asked to cater to them as if I was an inferior being. The job was more about rules than creativity and when I explored other jobs within the company, it was more of the same. To sum it up: I was miserable. And the only person dressed up for Halloween. Rankings are nothing more than journalistic fodder. Review employment stats and alumni placements. Take a close look at instruction type. What works best for you? What is the feeling you get when you’re on campus? Or when you watch student-created You Tube videos? Pay attention to that. Do you feel a sense of expansion or contraction? What commonalities do you notice among alumni that you speak with? Do they all seem serious, playful, creative or formal? Spend time learning about your values and choose in accordance with those make sure you are happy and successful in b-school.




    Getting down to the nuts and bolts. I personally find it unimaginable to pick a b-school site unseen, this is a lifetime affiliation, and that is like getting married at first sight. I urge you to make the campus visits happen. However, if you are living in the middle of Zambia, like one of my clients, it might not be an option. I would encourage you to take full advantage of social media, You Tube in particular. Locate the student-produced videos that give you a snapshot of what it feels like to be there. School culture varies widely. Most student-run organizations have a Facebook presence; reach out, take an interest. Set up a “school research” email and sign up for school newsletters, You Tube videos, etc.  Connect with alums on Linked In. Find out what you need to learn to position yourself for that ideal job. Some schools actually have formal networking opportunities. For example, in the summertime, you can reach out to speak with Haas MBA students who are completing their summer internships. Which brings me to an important point – sign up for online admissions events as much as possible, and any in-person events in the city where you currently live.So in a nutshell: Admissions events, in person and online. Alumni interviewing. You Tube. Facebook. School newsletters. Linked In. Campus visits if at all possible.




    Now, what to do with this research? Well, once you’ve shortlisted schools, look for activities that will help you become a strong, viable candidate for your post-MBA goal. Strategically identify the activities best suited to bring about the +MBA transformation for you. As for the applications. Go more deep than wide. Discuss a few things in depth in your applications rather than packing in a bunch of random crap. I’ve read hundreds of essays and believe me, discussing a dozen clubs you plan to start on campus in a 500-word essay makes you look like an unrealistic idiot. You will have to spread your time between classes, recruitment, networking, clubs, externships, mentorship, speaking events, the list goes on. Take note of the fact that nothing irritates the adcom more than having to read essay after essay, regurgitating  the course catalog or a list of student organizations. They know. They are aware. You want to mention these but only after giving them CONTEXT – meaning – your GOAL. Please remain steadfast in your awareness that they are READING THE APPLICATION TO LEARN ABOUT YOU. Not learn about the school or it’s offerings. Good essays are personal, and specific. 




    My advice would be for you to research schools the way you would research a business plan, because it’s really quite the same! The business of YOU is in full-swing, which assets do you need to build? Remember that the schools are investing dollars in you, so your goal is to look like an investible opportunity. It’s Shark Tank and the product you are pitching is you. Showing that you’ve done your homework will help you develop a consistent, solid plan to present. The goal is to inspire adcom to give you a seat, because you would leverage the opportunity and make good use of their money. You would be a great addition to their community and reflect well on the program. Good luck to all of you, wishing you a transformational MBA journey. 


    – Farrell
    I am a MBA admissions consultant who works with clients worldwide. I help both full time and EMBA leaders get into top business schools. Schedule a profile review with me to see if we would make a good team. My goal is to help you create your best applications, get into your dream business school and pursue a career that excites you. 

    Read More
  • 17/04/2020 - mbaprepcoach 0 Comments
    Stanford Question about “Background or Perspective Influencing Your Participation”

    Tell us about a time within the last two years when your background or perspective influenced your participation at work or school.


    I recently received a question, “Could you offer any advice about how to approach this short answer question from the “Background” section? It’s a bit unclear to me whether this is an ethnicity / citizenship question or if you can talk about anything related to your background.”






    Stanford’s claim is that you will be transformed by way of a GSB MBA. They key to success is to show how you embody transformation – how you have experienced transformation in the past, and how you have transformed others.




    Stanford believes that diversity is the catalyst to achieve said transformation. Being exposed to viewpoints, worldviews and experiences different from your own is how you will achieve this transformation. Diversity is generally traceable back to your background or perspective.




    You see yourself individually. But the GSB adcom is concerned with putting together an outstanding class. They think in the aggregate. The Stanford ding letter is very telling, it states that the process is about, “selection, not evaluation.” They are not looking at your merits in isolation. It’s not about you being good enough (evaluation), it’s about you being what they are seeking (selection.) The criteria for selection? You being so absolutely unrepeatable that they cannot pass you up. The class would suffer for it.




    I watch a lot of Top Chef, and it always makes me laugh when, at the final elimination, the runner-up yells out, “I deserved to be Top Chef!” Does this mean the winner did not deserve to be Top Chef? Did you taste their dishes? If you didn’t, (and maybe even if you did) you really can’t make this claim.They are failing to grasp the fundamental principle of a competition. It is not about evaluating your merits as a chef. It’s about selection, not evaluation. It’s a comparative process.




    Stanford receives so many applications, your first order of business is to articulate the unique contribution you would bring to the class. Unique contribution meaning your “background or perspective.”




    The Stanford brand relies upon the transformation you achieve by way of a Stanford MBA. The adcom invests a lot of time and money in creating a highly diverse class, from all strata and walks of life, and want to make sure their efforts will be leveraged. It’s one thing for students to be diverse and have a diverse perspective, yet quite another for the student body to be enriched by that diversity.


    6 – Tell us about a time within the last two years when your background or perspective influenced your participation at work or school.


    This question allows them to refine things one level further. Most believe that past performance is the best indicator of future behavior. Do you have a track record of sharing your experiences and perspectives for the betterment of all? They are looking to choose applications who have a track record of putting this into action. The question is, will you bring your diverse, unique background or perspective to the forefront in the classroom so that others can benefit from it? Or will you be Suzy Wallflower, hoarding all your goodies to yourself? If you do have a unique or diverse perspective/ background, how have you transformed others by way of this? Meditate on this point when answering this question.


    Let’s connect if you would like guidance with your personal application to GSB or other top schools. Wishing success and transformation in your MBA journey!


    – Farrell
    I am a MBA admissions consultant who works with clients worldwide. I help both full time and EMBA leaders get into top business schools. Schedule a profile review with me to see if we would make a good team. My goal is to help you create your best applications, get into your dream business school and pursue a career that excites you. 

    Read More
  • 17/04/2020 - mbaprepcoach 0 Comments
    What can I recycle ? MBA admissions essays

    As tempting as it is, avoid recycling essays. The adcom is very old hat at this, and will smell it out instantly. And consider you a B-rate applicant who is trying to pump out applications. They want see a demonstrated interest in their program, in part, because it means  you are likely to “pick” them if they “pick” you.


    However, there are things you can recycle from one essay to the next, and still answer the question. Almost every school has some derivation of asking 1) why you, 2) why MBA and 3) why this school. Meaning, why should we pick you, why do you want/need an MBA, and why do you want an MBA at this school.


    Why you – generally about the same for each business school with regards to unique contributions you can make to the program, your value proposition. However, we also want to include what you bring to the program in terms of FIT: this relates to  how you fit with their culture and share their values.


    Why MBA – this story should be pretty similar from one business school to the next. It needs to connect the dots between your past and future, meaning, you haven’t just pulled this idea out of the sky. However at the same time, it needs to show that you need an MBA to accomplish your goal.


    Why this school – this is all about school research – leveraging the networking you have done in many forms. This part is totally unique to each school.


    Make sure to answer all parts of the question. You can never recycle an entire essay, but it is possible to recycle parts of an essay.


    – Farrell
    I am a MBA admissions consultant who works with clients worldwide. I help both full time and EMBA leaders get into top business schools. Schedule a profile review with me to see if we would make a good team. My goal is to help you create your best applications, get into your dream business school and pursue a career that excites you. 

    Read More
  • 17/04/2020 - mbaprepcoach 0 Comments
    Indian MBA Applicants – Real Talk

    Hello Indian readers. Someone wrote to me recently, asking, “why do the credentials for Indians have to be so much higher than for, say, Nordic applicants?”


    And it made me think to myself, maybe not all Indians are “in on” the dynamics of business school admissions. This is the stuff that admissions representatives will not tell you. I will lay it all out.


    Indians are extremely overrepresented, in fact, I believe they are the largest group in the application pool. And here is the crux of the issue.


    Stanford (or any other business school) cannot pack the class full of Indians. Imagine that you walk into the class and you find wall-to-wall Indian students. This lack of diversity in terms of thought, perspective, and experiences would greatly decrease the value of what the school is selling – diverse experiences, exposure to various perspectives, industries and walks of life.


    In essence, Stanford is protecting the experience of the students. This is why they want to have diversity in many forms, and citizenship or nationality is at the head of the list. However, it’s not the whole enchilada. An Indian male IT applicant would fare worse than a gay female Indian artist. If the school doesn’t offer they don’t have diversity, it lessens the experience for the students and reduces the reputation of the school.


    The whole situation is really unfortunate because most Indians are very bright and test well on the GMAT, which is endemic of the problem. Competing against their others with a similar profile proves difficult. The whole situation is quite unfair in a myriad of ways.


    If you are an Indian national, the acceptance rate for you is half of what it is for the reported average. So for Stanford, that goes from 6% to 3%. If you are in IT – well, that goes to 2%. The numbers are honesty quite deflating.


    One of the biggest mistakes, however, is to assume that a high GMAT score and GPA is the answer to the problem. A decent GMAT is necessary in most cases, however, in my practice I find that most Indian candidates grossly underestimate the importance of doing the application well. Your profile will only help you to the degree you can communicate the value of it.


    What does this look like?


    Resume: Every single word has a purpose. It uses universal language instead of industry jargon. It contains resume bullets that are one line, focusing on actions and quantifiable achievements. If not a quantifiable achievement, something that speaks to human motivations, such as saving time and improving a process. Anyone from any industry would be able to step into your resume, and comprehend the value of what you have done. There is space to breathe on the page. It has white space, and the reader feels good when they look at it. It looks inviting. It has simple elegance.


    Essays: The essays use anecdotes and examples that are written in chronological order. The reader can mentally see the story unfold. The story is told in brief sentences in a way that is accessible to a broad audience. Each essay shows a different side of you, yet all of them feel authentic, sincere, and accessible. They demonstrate self-awareness, personal growth, leadership and results-orientation. You reach the reader on both an analytical and emotional level.


    Letters of recommendation: The recommender can “see” you – see the uniqueness of you – and articulate that eloquently. The letter is comprised chiefly of clear, specific anecdotes that point to your talents in the area of problem-solving, teamwork, leadership, communication and innovation. The reader is emotionally moved by the content and, ideally, wants to champion you to the adcom in quite the same way as the writer.


    Online application: Twitter on steroids. Elevator pitch. Distills valuable information about you clearly and succinctly. Everything illustrates qualities that business schools value – strategic thinking, results orientation, etc. Employment section gives the reader a clear, succinct understanding of the experience you’ve gained, employing simple, universal language. The activities and awards point to the overall brand that you set forth in other aspects of the application.


    This is where the opportunities lie. Do the app well. Your profile matters – but if delivered badly – if the value of it is obscured – the reader will not see it. And everything you have worked so hard for won’t even matter.


    After having read hundreds of applications, I assure you, submitting a quality application will set you apart. It’s an underleveraged strategy.

    Read More
  • 17/04/2020 - mbaprepcoach 0 Comments
    Focus on Your Unique Contribution

    So often, I am asked to give a MBA profile evaluation based on GMAT + GPA + Work Experience. It’s simply not possible estimate your chances based on these 3 numbers alone. I’m really not sure why applicants, year after year, continue with the perception that that is the case.


    In truth, your chances have a lot to do with whether or not the schools are convinced that you should be part of the class. It’s just like the ding letter from Stanford that says, it is about selection not evaluation.


    It’s not about being good enough. It’s about being what they’re looking for – and outstanding.


    So those low grades or GMAT are not necessarily a deal-breaker, however you need to bring something to the table that would be an offsetting entry for them.


    Unique contribution. What would make them want you – in order to make the class complete?


    A value proposition consists of two items – desirability and exclusivity. Something is more valuable if it is desirable, and also, if it is rare. Uncommon. Unrepeatable. This is your competitive advantage, and it’s worthwhile to take time to figure it out.


    Beyond your profile, some of this has to do with the rest of the applicant pool. Again, selection rather than evaluation. It’s not “all about you.”


    It would be something related to the unique perspective you offer, acquired through your experiences. What you have done in the community types of experiences that have developed your leadership and teamwork skills.


    So sit with the question for a while. What sets you apart from other people with your profile? What would be a reason to select you out of a highly competitive pool?


    If you are interested in partnering with me on your applications, please fill out the prospective client form. 

    Read More
  • 17/04/2020 - mbaprepcoach 0 Comments
    Tips for Harvard Business School Essay (HBS)

    It always seems so unfair to contend with HBS….


    everyone’s dream school – as the first application essay – right when you’re developing your “sea legs” in the world of MBA admissions!


    A few pointers.


    First of all, please know that when it comes to word count, they are giving you enough rope to hang yourself here. Concision is valued and needs to be reflected.


    MBA Applicants often feel as though more is better. This is not the case and if you’ve ever reviewed resumes for a living, you know what I’m talking about. The mantra here is targeted, not comprehensive.


    If you are struggling to choose, can you take some of these things and roll them up into leadership characteristics that are broader, but still meaningful? The key is to find the essence of it, the golden thread, what others say is unique about you, what you’re known for – as it relates to leadership.


    People can only digest so much at a time. For this reason, it’s your responsibility to be super clear and focused. Would you be more attracted to a political candidate who mentioned three things or 20? In many ways, this is your campaign speech – your pitch. Limit the focus to increase comprehension of the message.


    Also, be transparent and avoid jargon. Make it easy for us to walk into your world – they ask for this specifically. Step outside of yourself and your world – in order to write an essay that is digestible by the adcom.


    Strategically select an anecdote, possibly two, that reflect what it is you are known for, what might be your brand as it relates to leadership. There needs to be a hook and they need to get clear on what your trying to say in the first 15 seconds.


    You don’t want the same anecdotes to show up in your letter of recommendation, but you want both items to point to the same qualities.


    Feel free to reach out if you like me to review your drafts. I’ll send you audio file feedback.


    – Farrell
    I am a MBA admissions consultant who works with clients worldwide. I help both full time and EMBA leaders get into top business schools. Schedule a profile review with me to see if we would make a good team. My goal is to help you create your best applications, get into your dream business school and pursue a career that excites you. 

    Read More
  • 17/04/2020 - mbaprepcoach 0 Comments
    Leveraging MBA Networking Events

    School research is so important, and so is making a good impression on admissions. Before attending admissions events, do some research that will lead into some juicy questions.


    Don’t ask them about stats you could easily find online. Rather, ask questions that demonstrate you’ve 1) researched the program and 2) believe it is a fit, based on that research. Use that as your jumping-off point for deeper conversations. Initiate as many meaningful conversations as possible, without sacrificing quality.


    After each conversation, take their business card, and write down what you discussed.  Within 24 hours, email your new contact to follow up, the same way you would send a thank you note after an interview. It’s helpful to reference what was discussed, to reinforce the connection and make you more memorable. You can also ask them to set you up with a student mentor, and if possible, have them arrange a school visit. This will win  a lot of points. Keep in mind, showing a specific interest in a school will increase your chances.


    The biggest headache for business schools is extending offers to people who choose another school. In this way, it’s a prisoner’s dilemma. So doing the work to demonstrate that you would pick them will up your chances. 


    You can get even more mileage out of each event by noting a meaningful piece of information in your essay; i.e., I spoke with Flor (’12) at the Buenos Aires admissions event, and she mentioned XYZ about Cornell. XYZ = something that would make me a fit at your school.


    And please don’t mention collaborative culture because 99.99% of applicants go that route. It is played out.


    If you do mention it, show don’t tell – mention a clear example of what resonated with you. If possible, reference an alumni conversation in your essay that points to how the school is an especially strong fit with your unique career goals. This is a good idea for the prisoner’s dilemma mentioned above.


    If you are unable to attend any events in person, make sure to subscribe to their You Tube and attend the online admissions events. Meet with students or alumni in your city; get creative to show the school you are passionate about their program!


    In sum: make a good impression – before and after the event! 

    Read More
  • 17/04/2020 - mbaprepcoach 0 Comments
    Poets & Quants Profile – Farrell Dyan

    Poets & Quants Profile for Farrell Dyan MBA Prep Coach

    Read More
  • 17/04/2020 - mbaprepcoach 0 Comments
    Critical Reasoning – Paraphrasing the Questions

    With critical reasoning, the most important thing is to read the question, and understand what your job is.


    Some questions are simple, “what is the assumption,” whereas others are extremely convoluted. They say something like, “which of the following does not support the finding that the conclusion is wrong.” All the double negatives can make it very tough to figure out what’s what.


    Strip it down from the abstract to a very concrete statement, something like, “why is X a bad idea?” And then pose this question to each answer choice. Hello, A, are you telling me why X is a bad idea? You need to set up specific criteria for the answer choice. If it doesn’t say why X is a bad idea, cross it off and move on.


    If you don’t specify what you want out of the answer choice, it’s like walking into the grocery store without a shopping list. You will be lured to pick things that you don’t need and forget about why you went there in the first place.

    Read More
  • situation, task, action, result
    17/04/2020 - MBA Prep Coach 0 Comments
    How Do I Write an MBA Goals Essay?

    I want to share a quick formula to guide you in answering almost any essay question. It’s an approach commonly used in interviews, so you might have heard of it already. It’s called STAR – Situation – Task – Action – Result.

    Read More
  • 17/04/2020 - mbaprepcoach 0 Comments
    Inference Answers – Go Vague. Or Go Home.

    Boring. So vague, it can’t be wrong. You know, the answer that is so watered down and wishy-washy, it’s basically saying nothing at all? THAT’S YOUR ANSWER!!! The GMAC wants to stay out of legal trouble. For this reason, any answer that is put forth as “true” must be totally indisputable. This means, incidentally, that it needs to be indisputably VAGUE as well. Vague statements are generally more likely to be “true” than specific statements. This strategy is especially helpful when you are looking at two similar answer choices. One of them is clear, detailed and specific, while the other, stating the obvious, dialed-back, to which you might respond, “duh!” Example. If I said you had black hair, there’s a good chance it’s true. But if I said you had black hair, blue eyes and freckles, the chances of that statement being true plummet dramatically. Additional details make the statement less likely to be true. They impose more conditions – and GMAT answers work very similarly. If you are drawn to smart-sounding, specific answers, listen up, you. The analogy I like to use is the Pyramid of Truth. Draw a pyramid on your paper.  On the top of the pyramid, write words such as, “only,” “never,” “always,” “most, “cannot,” …you get the idea. NARROW. Restrictive. Av  oid choosing answers that contain these words. Why? Only, never and always are highly disputable. They are unlikely to be true.


    For example, If I said I always get GMAT answers correct, that’s unlikely (even for me.) On the bottom of the pyramid, write down words such as, “may, could, might, some, one.” BROAD. May or may not. Could or could not. Might or might not. Lean towards answers that contain these words. They claim very little, in fact, they claim nothing at all really, and must be true. The GMAC is off the hook. If I said I may get some particular GMAT question correct, that is indisputable. I may or may not. Either way, I’m telling the truth. Again, choose answers that are so vague, and claim so little, they can’t be wrong. Bottom of the pyramid. When you are faced with two different answers and one says, “most,” and the other says, “some,” choose the the latter. Just this one tip will clear up major problems with inference questions in Critical Reasoning and Reading Comprehension. One exception, by the way – if the questions states, “which of the following MUST be false.” In such cases, extreme-sounding answers are a good contender.

    Read More
  • 17/04/2020 - mbaprepcoach 0 Comments
    Create a (Business) Plan for Business School

    If it’s one thing that drives me nuts, it’s someone who says they are “going to business school to figure out what they want to do.” THAT IS DUMB. And incidentally, also very EXPENSIVE, because it’s  a waste of your precious TIME. Get clear on your career goal first, so you can pick a program that will help you achieve it. Then leverage your time in business school to achieve said goal. Believe me, when applicants try to conceal their lack of direction, and BS their way through, it comes through loud and clear in their essays. It’s impossible to hide. And the essays are painful to read.


    Business schools want to bring in students who will be successful, make them look good, have a positive impact on endowments. It’s difficult for students achieve greatness if  they have no direction. This is why business schools ask you – hey, applicant, how do you plan to spend your time at our school ? I heartily recommend that you do the introspection work….with a coach if necessary… to construct your career plans before attempting to draft your applications. Do the inner work first. The application essays should be a manifestation of this process, not be the beginning of it. I often hear, “I just want to get into a school and then I’ll figure out the rest when I’m there.” OK. Let’s say you get into a school. Without clear intentions, you will be caught in a tidal wave of courses, clubs, classes and recruiters. Not to mention speakers, internships, externships…you get the picture. Instead of tapping into your heart’s desire, it’s more likely that you’ll be thrown about the sea, shipwrecked, 20 months having slipped through your hands and all you have to show for it is a huge bill. I will end with these words of advice from one McCombs MBA student to an applicant:


    “I didn’t realize how busy I would be! I knew that business school was going to be challenging but the first few months really tested my time management skills. Looking back I was amazed at how much we all accomplished in the fall term. Advice I would have for that is to think about what you want to get out of business school before you get here. Do you want to focus on recruiting, social, academics? And are you okay with priorities shifting as you progress in the year?”

    Read More
  • 17/04/2020 - mbaprepcoach 0 Comments
    Waitlisting Strategy – Show Your Zing

    It’s that time of year in the MBA admissions calendar – Round 1 & Round 2 is over, interviews are done and decisions have been made. And not everyone is happy. If waitlisted, you’re probably feeling vulnerable right now.


    Some options include Round 3, January intake, rolling admissions schools. But if you have decided to stay on the waitlist, it will ease your anxiety to work on an update letter, rather than watching the clock and hoping for the best. And it’s best you work on it with a MBA admissions consultant. 


    Most waitlisted business school applicants engage in a mental conversation about how they are not good enough. However, if you’re on the waitlist, you have been deemed qualified. Unqualified applicants get a rejection letter. The waitlist does not mean, “you better get your $hit together, kid – then maybe we’ll think about letting you in here.” But that’s often how it’s interpreted.


    Here’s probably what happened. Someone with your profile submitted an application and their qualifications were a smidge higher (incidentally, this is why you need to apply to several schools.) Adcom couldn’t justify giving the seat to you for this reason. Some other Taiwanese female enterpreneur or white male banker from Minnesota beat you out.


    You can pray that they will decline and go to another business school. Or, work actively to heighten your personal brand. Write your elevator pitch. What makes you irreplaceable? Do the deep thinking and soul searching you might have sidestepped before. Rather than trying to obtain parity with the class profile – which has never inspired a soul – focus how they NEED you there and why. How will the class be enriched by the diversity you will add? What unique contribution could you offer their academic community?


    It might be a good idea to consider how your profile falls short – but don’t take the GMAT to go from 740 to 745. Or attempt to redo your entire undergraduate college career if your GPA is a 3.4. Rather than taking frenetic action to become “good enough,” create one solid, succinct update letter that showcases your ZING in a way you had not previously captured.


    Two other items that might need attention 1) Clear and realistic post-MBA goal. Fuzzy, haphazard goal essays signal that you might end up becoming deadweight on their job placement statistics. Also – do some extra school research and alumni networking. It will make you look active and engaged. In your update letter, use what you have gained to demonstrate an inextricable nexus between your goals and their program.


    Of course it’s intimidating that you have to re-audition for the role. But you won’t win this by attempting to remedy all your weaknesses. Make a clear, compelling value proposition that will capture their attention. Focus on your strengths.

    Read More
  • 17/04/2020 - mbaprepcoach 0 Comments
    Round 3 MBA apps vs. January Intake

    Is the b-school plan a bit off track?

    January intake might save the day

    Read More
  • 17/04/2020 - mbaprepcoach 0 Comments
    Preparing for Round 1 – #10 – Academic Preparation

    #10 – Is your GPA lower than the average? For a low GPA, a strong GMAT is the antidote but MBA Math, HBxCORe, and retaking college classes are all good ancillary remedies.


    I believe that one of my overrepresented candidates with very poor grades and zero extracurriculars was admitted to Stern, in part, because he was getting A or A- grades in the HBS Strategic Management certificate program.


    If the problem is verbal – focus on acing a writing or literature course, or engage in a public speaking group. But most of all, make sure your recommendations and essays offer ample evidence of your lucidity in English.

    Read More
  • 17/04/2020 - mbaprepcoach 0 Comments
    Preparing for Round 1 – #9 – Diverse Interests

    #9- Hobbies and interests. As you probably know, you’re not competing against the applicant pool, but against people with your “profile.” Schools want diversity, so if you are an overrepresented candidate, it’s very important for you to demonstrate uniqueness and well-roundedness.


    Here’s an example. In essays, Indians often discuss their leadership role on the cricket team at university. However, I wish I had a dime for every essay I’ve read by a former Indian cricket captain. It isn’t going to separate you much from the competition. Put the focus on on interests and activities that really separate you from other people with your “profile.”


    Don’t run out and take up a bunch of new hobbies, because that will send up a red flag with the adcom. However, increase your participation in a hobby that 1) separates you from other people with your profile and 2) you can speak about honestly in an interview situation. For example, one of my Indian applicants was a champion equestrian and coached him to discuss this somewhere in his application.


    If possible, use one of your essays to discuss a hobby that would add an interesting dimension to the class. Applicants often fixate on the GMAT, but overlook other ways to set themselves apart. Don’t miss this opportunity.

    Read More
  • 17/04/2020 - mbaprepcoach 0 Comments
    Preparing for Round 1 – #8 – Pattern of Progression

    #8- You want to show progression in your MBA application. The most obvious way is to get promoted. However, there are many ways of advancing to a higher level of responsibility – community work, political volunteering, alumni associations.


    For example, volunteer at the SPCA on Saturdays, do your best, and let them know you could help with their business operations. Lick envelopes to help a political candidate you support, and you might get bumped up to Canvassing Manager.


    So think broadly about this, if a work promotion doesn’t seem likely over the coming year. The goal is to show that when invited to their club, you add value and play well with others – hence – they give you a bigger role in the organization.

    Read More
  • 17/04/2020 - mbaprepcoach 2 Comments
    US News & World Report 2016 MBA Program Rankings

    Some exciting and surprising changes in the new US News & World Report. Stanford was dethroned; HBS is in the #1 place. Chicago-Booth tied with Stanford for the #2 spot, which used to belong to Wharton, now #4.


    New England seems to be taking over. MIT stayed at #5; Dartmouth moved up the #8 spot and the biggest development is that Yale is now #9 – first time ever in the top ten (young MBA program – but safe to assume there will be further ascension in the rankings.)


    NYC is the big loser this year. Columbia is ranked #10 and the big shock – NYU-Stern is ranked #20, down from #11, due to their failure to submit critical data on time to US News & World Report.


    Meanwhile upstate in Ithaca, Cornell advanced one notch to #14. Darden, Duke and Ross are probably crying in their beer right now. Darden has lost its footing as a top 10 school, and the other two will unlikely make the top ten now that Yale is there – and most likely there to stay.


    – Farrell
    I am a MBA admissions consultant who works with clients worldwide. I help both full time and EMBA leaders get into top business schools. Schedule a profile review with me to see if we would make a good team. My goal is to help you create your best applications, get into your dream business school and pursue a career that excites you

    Read More
  • 17/04/2020 - mbaprepcoach 0 Comments
    Preparing for Round 1 – #7 – Self-Awareness

    #7- Cultivate self-awareness. This is the key weapon in your MBA admissions arsenal. As they say, “no one can beat you at being you.” Leverage this to set yourself apart from the competition.


    Keep in mind – the only reason the adcom is reading your application is to get to know YOU. Not your company, your mentor, or your team. So you need to know yourself well enough to speak eloquently on the topic of you.


    I recommend taking the Strengthfinders assessment, and this quiz to find out your values. The free 16 Personalities assessment is incredibly accurate, and gives you “words” to help describe who you are; to convey to the adcom what motivates and animates you.


    Knowing your values will help you answer those WHY application essay questions, i.e, “what matters most and why?” This will set you apart in the eyes of the admissions committee from candidates who wrote less personal and more superficial, predictable essays about “why this school.”


    This will also help you demonstrate an authentic cultural fit with the school. Showing that you know, understand and mesh with the values of a particular program creates an emotional connection with the reader. And that, my friend, is a highly effective – yet very underutilized – application strategy. 

    Read More
  • 17/04/2020 - mbaprepcoach 0 Comments
    Preparing for Round 1 – #6 – Upgrade Work Projects

    #6 – Upgrade work projects.
    Admissions Committee look for candidates with a work history that will enrich classroom discussions. This year, focus on obtaining projects that will provide fertile ground for MBA essay stories around leadership, teamwork, communication skills, entrepreneurship, and impact. You want these kinds of stories for your application, resume, essays and letters of recommendation.
    Maybe this means getting on an international work project. Or transferring to a smaller department, where your work is less specialized. This might provide an opportunity for leadership, people management, and process improvement.
    Think about how you can position yourself in the near term, so you have some valuable “content” for your MBA application that speaks to the underlined items above.

    Read More
  • 17/04/2020 - mbaprepcoach 0 Comments
    Preparing for Round 1 – #5 – Informational Interviews

    #5- DO INFORMATIONAL INTERVIEWS. This allow you to speak from a place of knowledge and conviction. That increases the impact of your essays and chances for an admit.


    I cannot underscore this enough. Work your Linked In connections. Reach out to people over email. Some find this scary, but it’s worth it. You need to figure out if your post-MBA career goal is what you really want to do, before spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to achieve it.


    Having some specifics allows you to create a more compelling vision in your essays. Next, figure out which programs are ideally suited to help you achieve them. What do you need to get from point A to point B?


    Look at the special programs/curriculum/alumni network offered by each school and back out your answer from there. Obtain a clear and specific understanding of how the program for each school fits with your career goals. When they ask you, Why Duke? Why Wharton? Why Tuck? you need a clear, thought-out response.


    What not to do: I like the city, and your school has a good reputation in US News & World Report. NOOOOO…..that is like saying I want to marry you because you are pretty. And it will not separate you from the competition. You need to articulate a concrete plan that demonstrates your 1) specific Post-MBA goals and 2) plan to achieve them.

    Read More
  • 17/04/2020 - mbaprepcoach 0 Comments
    Preparing for Round 1 – #4 – MBA Career Goals

    #4 – Define your MBA career goals. MBA admissions committees recruit candidates who know know what they want to do, because those candidates are far more likely to leverage their time in business school for the purpose of fulfilling their goals. They are a safer investment for the schools.


    Many of the people I speak with want to go to business school to figure things out and see what appeals to them. That is called READY-FIRE-AIM, and it is a colossal waste of resources. Two years will go by in a flash and all you will have to show for it is a huge bill.


    When candidates have goals, they have a focus for recruitment and seem more marketable. More likely to get a job. And a safer investment for the schools.


    Look within. Get some career coaching first and then figure out if this MBA thing is your ideal next step. Know the function & industry you want to be in, and why that will fulfill you. If you need an MBA to get there, great – but don’t go to business school to fix your life. Do the introspection work first. This will put you on the proper trajectory, and if you still choose to do an MBA, your essays will be more persuasive and high-impact

    Read More
  • 17/04/2020 - mbaprepcoach 0 Comments
    Preparing for Round 1 – #3 – Communication Skills

    #3- Communication skills


    MBA Schools have impromptu video questions, compulsory interviews, networking – in sum, communication skills comes into play in your application.


    If you feel insecure about yours, joining a nearby chapter of Toastmasters will indicate that you proactively solve challenges. This involvement has many benefits: yes, becoming a better speaker, but also networking and receiving mentorship.  


    Given all the presentations you need to do in business school, getting out in front of this is your best strategy.

    Read More
  • 17/04/2020 - mbaprepcoach 0 Comments
    Preparing for Round 1 – #2 – Retaking the GMAT

    #2 – This one is obvious. The main premise is that you need to show academic aptitude. If your grades are bad, this has to be stellar.


    Many applicants forget – GMAT prep is not like a normal class. The questions you solve will not be on the test. It’s not about learning the material and regurgitating it on test day. Doing a ton of problems won’t guarantee you a good score.


    Rather, you want to develop a strategy – a replicable model – for each question type that will lead you down the path to solving the questions correctly. Also, you want to train your brain to perceive the questions in a different way. You need to learn new strategies, but also, you need to become aware of how you are perceiving and approaching the questions now.


    What are your blocks and blind spots? This generally requires 1-1 interaction with an outside observer to observe and determine these things. If you are thinking about retaking the GMAT, get started early. You don’t want to be studying for the GMAT while preparing your applications. I recommend private tutoring over any commercial classes, because each student has a completely different set of strengths and weaknesses.

    Read More
  • 17/04/2020 - mbaprepcoach 0 Comments
    Preparing for Round 1 – # 1 – Do Community Service

    1- Community service.


    Often, I hear MBA candidates say, “can they really check on this?” No, business schools can’t really “check” on this, but it will still factor into your candidacy.


    There are ways to weave it into your letters of recommendation, resume and essays. Community service enriches you and so too will it enrich your essays and letters of recommendation.


    This is such a huge way to differentiate yourself, and sorely overlooked by overrepresented candidates especially for top business schools. Deepen your engagement with a community service, or find a volunteer opportunity. 

    Read More



I got the call today and was accepted!! I’m so excited and at a loss for words. Thank you so much Farrell. Unbelievable and feel very humbled and lucky to have this opportunity. I really appreciate you pushing and encouraging me to pursue Kellogg. I wouldn’t be here without you.

"Just wanted to inform you that I received an admit from Kellogg, Tepper, and UCLA in round 2. I am joining Kellogg. Your interview tips helped a lot."

- A. Abhishek

"I thank Farrell whole heartedly for helping me get admitted to INSEAD, my dream B-school. When I found her on GMAT Club, I had already applied to London Business School, and was rejected without getting even an interview. In order to improve my essays and increase the chances to get admitted by my dream school, I decided to go with her, even knowing we on a very tight schedule..."

– Y. Jiang, Xian. China

"Farrell was a real life saver in the MBA application process. I first came to her to help me in developing a holistic application that was tailored to my target schools. Her process effectively identified key strengths and weaknesses in my candidacy and developed a strategy to give me the best chance of getting accepted..."

– L. R., Chicago, IL

"Farrell is the only one who believed in me. First, she spent hours learning about me, to make sure I chose schools that fit me, and also, where the adcom would appreciate my international background the most. Honestly, this is probably the most important part of the application process and most students neglect it..."

– K. Marie, Paris, France

"Farrell not only helped me connect the dots and tell my story, but also guided me through an important process of self-knowledge. The methods used during the process were simple and effective in finding answers about myself and my objectives. Knowing about myself was an essential step towards achieving my short and long-term goals..."

– G. Azevedo, São Paulo, Brazil

Privacy Policy

MBA Prep Coach · Working with global seasoned professionals

seeking an MBA or EMBA from a top business program

Open 1pm to 10pm ET · 

Copyright © 2020 · Powered by ThriveHive