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MBA Admissions Q&A: UBC Sauder

MBA admissions interview with Canada's UBC Sauder School of Business

When you apply to an MBA program, you ought to put your best foot forward. Michael Holaday, UBC Sauder School of Business’ director of recruitment and admissions stresses this by saying, “it is disappointing when we see otherwise talented prospects who have not made the best use of the opportunity to showcase their unique abilities.” They know as well as you that the decision to pursue an MBA is important and one that should not be taken lightly.


At the Vancouver-based school, the MBA admissions team expects applicants to treat the application and, in particular the interview, like a job interview. If you are ready to take a serious step forward along your career path, then read on to find out if the UBC Sauder MBA is right for you!

Michael Holaday, UBC SauderWhat are the most important aspects of the UBC Sauder MBA application process besides GMAT score, prior GPA, and current job position?

The most important aspect of the UBC MBA application is to demonstrate your full capability to us. We are looking for students that demonstrate their ability to handle the intense workload and who are ambitious enough to take on the numerous opportunities offered throughout the (program’s duration of) 16 months. During your time in the program, there’ll be career events, opportunities for mentorship, extracurricular activities and case competitions, to name just a few – so it’s important that we find students who can thrive in our program and for applicants to show that they can achieve this in the application. The video essay is your opportunity to go beyond what your résumé, references and essay answers show us. 

What is one mistake you see applicants make?

Prospective students should put their best effort into the application process: It is disappointing when we see otherwise talented prospects who have not made the best use of the opportunity to showcase their unique abilities. 

It’s quite obvious to us when we see rushed applications or submissions that don’t have well thought-out answers. Often, applicants believe their online applications may not hold much merit, compared to the interview – our process is holistic, and every component of the application has value. 

What is something you would like to see applicants do more often?

Ask questions and reach out to our (admissions) office when unsure of anything. We would like to be in communication with applicants, as necessary, to make sure they are clear on our program and the application process. It’s good to see students engaged in a meaningful manner and doing the research needed to make a solid decision about which MBA is right for them. 

What does the UBC Sauder application process look like?

The application process is very straightforward. Our website lays out all the information an applicant would need before starting the online application. When you submit your application, it will take us about four to six weeks to make a decision. (Make sure you upload your unofficial GMAT scores and transcripts.) During those four to six weeks, you then have time to submit your official GMAT scores and arrange to have your transcripts sent to us. Our admissions team is available to answer any queries throughout this process.

How can a candidate overcome a lower GMAT score?

If you’re slightly below the competitive range, we recommend an exceptional GPA, a strong work record and strong answers to the application essays. The admissions process is holistic, taking into account all aspects of your application. We also recommend that you contact us for an online advising session, or if we’re in your city, to visit us at our events. Each candidate is different, and many will have unique questions that can’t always be answered wholly by our website. 

MBA admissions tips

Essay(s): Make sure that your essay and video responses answer the questions, make sense and are authentic to who you are.

Interview: We want applicants to come into the interview, comfortable and prepared. Show us that you’ve done your homework and fully researched our program. But, we don’t want you to sound too rehearsed. We want to see your personality. Treat the interview like a job interview.

Letter(s) of recommendation: Our application asks for references to be done online. Give your referees notice that this is coming their way so they can fill it out as soon as possible. Choose referees who know you well and can speak to your abilities in a thoughtful manner. Do not choose referees based on an impressive job title, if the person doesn’t know you well.     

CV/résumé: We recommend making your résumé concise and easy-to-read. We also recommend keeping your résumés to a maximum of two pages.


School visit: If you’re arranging a school visit, give us plenty of notice so that we can plan for someone to show you around UBC Sauder. We would be more than happy to welcome you to our campus if you are in Vancouver.

Written by Mike Grill

Mike's remit covers content, SEO and blogger outreach. Outside of his work for TopMBA.com, he is an assistant coach for MLU outfit, the Portland Stags.

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