MBA Admissions Q&A: Warwick Business School

MBA admissions interview with WBS

A current member of the UK’s top-five business schools for the reputation of its full-time MBA among international recruiters and academics in the fields of business and management, Warwick Business School (WBS) also stands inside Europe’s top 20 as a whole. The school’s principal home can be found on the border between Coventry and the county of Warwickshire, but WBS has recently ventured into London by securing a berth in the Shard – currently the EU’s tallest building – from which it will soon offer its executive MBA program. WBS also offers a highly-regarded online (distance learning) MBA program.


However, here to focus on admissions to the school’s full-time MBA is the program’s assistant dean and strategic management professor, Sotirios Paroutis, who starts by emphasizing the importance of its four MBA essay questions:  

WBS's Sotirios ParoutisWhat are the most important aspects of the WBS MBA application process besides GMAT score, prior GPA, and current job position?

The application form, which can be submitted online, is very important. We have four essay questions: three are very much about the candidate, their interests, experience and what they think they will bring to the MBA cohort; what their career goals are and how the MBA will help them achieve them; and their achievements and a setback they overcame. The fourth essay is the longest at a maximum of 1,000 words and candidates can choose between writing about the key issues their organization is facing, or identifying the strengths and weaknesses of an organization and discussing what three things would they change.

These [essays] help a lot in determining whether an MBA is appropriate for a candidate and they help with the interview process, should they get that far, as it gives us some talking points. The interview is also very important and where we are able to really find out about the candidate. It is important that we put together a diverse cohort in terms of skills, experience and nationality, so that all plays a part in the application process.

What is a common mistake you see applicants make?

One mistake we see is not enough detail in their essay answers. For the 1,000-word essay, we need to see evidence of strategic knowledge and a good understanding of an organization. We want them to demonstrate some critical thought as that will be vital for the MBA. We really want well-rounded candidates, not just technical ability, so the essay questions are very important in laying out their interests and showing they are team players.

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

Creativity is very important at Warwick Business School. We find that companies are looking for creative thinkers in the boardroom and more innovation, so applicants who can demonstrate this will rise to the top of their profession.

What does the Warwick Business School application process look like?

The process starts with the online application form and then an interview, which can be done either face-to-face or via Skype, though we don’t interview for the distance learning MBA. If we decide to make an offer, the candidate will be informed of any scholarship opportunities and then it is up to them to make a decision.

What is the typical acceptance rate to the Warwick MBA program? What is a typical ratio of domestic to international students accepted into the program?

 We don’t collate acceptance rate statistics. [With regards to international diversity] a typical ratio on the distance learning MBA is 36% British, 14% EU and 50% non-EU.

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

Overseas candidates also have to obtain a visa and gain a certificate showing they have reached the required level of English language. The University of Warwick’s International Office can provide advice on both of these. We are also doing two pre-sessional courses in Delhi and Dubai this year where prospective candidates can gain advice on these practicalities and have a taste of the teaching at WBS, all for free.

How can a candidate overcome a lower GMAT score?

It is always worth applying despite a low GMAT score, as the make-up of the MBA cohort is important, so we are not after a room full of mathematicians - we want a mix of skills. If you have a different skillset, especially from the creative industries, then that could fit in very well with the cohort, even if you have a low GMAT score.

MBA admissions tips

Essay(s): Demonstrate critical thought

Interview: Reveal business problems you have overcome

Letter of recommendation: From your present employer is best

CV/Résumé: Don’t think you have to squeeze it all on to one A4 page


School visit: Will the school’s strengths help you take your next step in your career journey?

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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