The Executive MBA Personality Assessment: Which Candidates Excel? |

The Executive MBA Personality Assessment: Which Candidates Excel?

By Karen Turtle

Updated February 9, 2018 Updated February 9, 2018

What is the classic executive MBA personality type? According to the Myers-Brigg personality test, the answer is ESTJ, which translates as extroverted, sensing, thinking and judging, a formulation labelled ‘the executive’ by Neris Analytics.

By way of an example, they give us the exemplar of Boromir from Lord of the Rings; leftfield for sure, but he was a leader of men after all.  

Top business schools may not call on the works of Tolkien or personality tests during the EMBA admissions process. Indeed, they seek a diverse variety of candidates for classes. There are, however, certain attributes that they look for in all candidates thinking of enrolling on an executive MBA.

Here are some…

1. Deep professional experience

The executive MBA is designed to accommodate mid-career professionals who have built up their resume and are looking to progress into senior management and c-level roles. In 2016 candidates on EMBA courses had an average of 14 years of work experience –  these are people who have moved beyond entry-level career anxieties to become self-assured and goal-oriented professionals.

Carlson College of Business at Washington State University aptly points out that EMBA students are usually top employees, financially and/or time sponsored by their organizations usually. This means that expectations of professionalism and all it denotes are being set on two sides; by the business school, and by the employer.

2.  Time management, focus and sacrifices

The majority of EMBA candidates are juggling study alongside a demanding career as well as personal and family obligations. Classes may be on weekends, evenings, or during intermittent weeks. Astute time management is, therefore, an essential skill. Maintaining focus throughout the duration of the program, especially in moments where study or projects can seem particularly rigorous, is crucial.

Being able to reject instant gratification for delayed gratification will also be important – holidays, hobbies and nights out may have to be postponed. The sorts of kids that passed the Stanford marshmallow experiment to put off lesser rewards for greater ones would make good EMBA candidates.

3. The cross-culturally sensitive, adaptable team player

The executive MBA program will require that students pull together and work in teams. Debating, deconstructing ideas, setting group goals and general collaboration is an important aspect of the course. Students are required to put themselves in key business roles, seeing things from a variety of perspective. For managers accustomed to a less collaborative approach, facets of this new routine may initially take some getting used to.

Members of the executive MBA cohort will also come from different industrial backgrounds and will represent different countries and cultures. This is an opportunity to be part of a diverse and dynamic group where ideas and perspectives will diverge, reflecting the sorts of international business dealings and partnerships top leaders will deal with on a daily basis. Top business schools will, therefore, be looking for candidates who are culturally sensitive, and who lean toward the breaking down of cross-cultural barriers.

It is important to point out that effective communication and interpersonal skills are two of the characteristics that MBA employers deem most lacking in their hires according to QS research. Most top business schools nudge students toward successfully building these skills so that they can excel at senior management level and beyond. 

This article was originally published in September 2017 . It was last updated in February 2018

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Written by

A content writer with a background in higher education, Karen holds an MA in modern languages from the University of St Andrews. Her interests include languages and literature, current affairs and film. ​


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