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MBA Admissions Q&A: ESADE Business School

MBA admissions interview with ESADE Business School

Barcelona’s ESADE Business School stands among the very best institutions at which to study an MBA in Europe, according to the QS Global Business Schools Report 2014/15 - where it is listed in the region’s top 10.

So what kind of applicant is ESADE looking for? Cristina Sassot, admissions director at the school, gives us an outline and, at the same time, has some useful application tips to offer:

Cristina Sassot, admissions director at ESADE Business SchoolWhat is the typical acceptance rate to the ESADE MBA program?

At ESADE, we typically receive between three and four applications for every available spot in our full-time MBA program.

What are the most important aspects of the ESADE MBA application process besides GMAT score, prior GPA, and current job position?

Beyond the application requirements themselves, we are looking for three key traits in successful MBA candidates:

1) Do they have leadership potential? That is, have they taken on increasing challenges and increased levels of responsibility during their career? 2) Will they thrive in an international environment, such as the one we have on campus? We’re not saying that you need to have lived and worked in half a dozen countries, but have you taken advantage of opportunities to expose yourself to different cultures, languages and business environments? 3) Finally, do you understand our MBA and the kind of collaborative, teamwork-based learning environment we have here?

Candidates who receive an offer of admission usually ‘tick’ all three of these boxes, in addition to any other outstanding characteristics they may possess.

What is a common mistake you see applicants make?

Sometimes, candidates make the mistake of telling us the story they think we want to hear. We are open minded regarding your work experience, your education, and your post-MBA goals, but when we are reviewing your application - and especially if you advance to the interview stage of the process - we want to see consistency and sincerity in your responses.

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

We love discovering that a candidate has been in active contact with current and former ESADE students. In this age of LinkedIn, it’s fairly easy to do, and with nearly 50,000 alumni worldwide, candidates will often find they have several ESADE graduates within their own network, as second or third-degree connections, for instance. When candidates have spoken with ESADE students and/or alumni before starting the admissions process, it shows the seriousness and thoroughness of their approach.

What does the ESADE application process look like?

Once candidates submit their full set of application materials, their completed application is reviewed by our MBA Admissions Committee.

The committee then decides whether to invite the candidate for interview, which can take place on our campus in Barcelona, in the candidate’s region of residence or - in exceptional circumstances - via video conference.

From there, the full application will again be reviewed by our committee, which makes a final decision as to whether an offer of admission is made to the candidate. From start to finish, the entire process takes between four and six weeks – i.e. from the moment the candidate submits all of his or her application materials: including GMAT scores, English proficiency exams, and the like.

What are some of the tests, official documents, and other hurdles that international students might have to negotiate?

Generally, international students and domestic students have the same paperwork to do, with only a few exceptions, such as needing official translations of [university/qualification] transcripts, or possibly a stamp of certification, such as the Hague Convention Apostille. However, non-European students must also make sure they have valid student visas prior to their arrival in Spain and this can take some time, although ESADE provides the required paperwork to make this a smoother process.

MBA admissions tips

Essay(s): Be clear and concise. Our admissions directors read lots of applications, and a well written essay should act as a ‘user’s guide’ to your application, helping us understand who you are in a simple, straightforward way.

Interview: Try to meet us in person. The extra effort to come to an Interview Day in your region, or an On-Campus Session in Barcelona, shows us how serious you are about the process. Also, come prepared to ask plenty of good questions!

Letter of recommendation: We require two recommendation letters, so choose two people who know you well, and not two people whose job titles you think will impress us. Also, if you don’t have a recommendation letter from your direct manager, please explain why in your application.

CV: In some professional environments it is common to create a ‘full’ version of your CV, which explains every project you have ever worked on, and every publication or report you have ever produced. That said, for the purposes of an MBA application please be aware that the ideal CV should be no longer than two pages.

School visit: Let us know in advance when you would like to visit our campus, and clearly state your goals and expectations for the visit. We are happy to customize an ESADE campus visit for you, but we need a bit of ‘lead time’, as well as a clear sense of your goals, to put together a visit that meets your needs.

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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