The first stage of most application processes is typically the written stage. This explores your career plans, your quantitative experience throughout your undergraduate degree and your other previous experience. You will be asked to answer some competency-based essay questions, alongside having to provide your CV, personal statement and transcript. For some Master’s programmes, this will suffice for the admissions committee to make a decision. However, you may also find yourself invited to complete a video/telephone interview in order to get through to the second (and often final) stage of the application process.
First delving into the personal statement of the written portion, it is important to ensure you are clear and precise in what you’ve written. This is your opportunity to present and sell yourself to the admissions team. So, it’s essential to communicate your reasons for applying to that school and that specific course in a clear and structured manner.
If you are applying for a particularly quantitative course, you may be asked to complete a quantitative statement highlighting the extent of your achievements and what you’ve learnt in some of your most quantitative modules during your undergraduate study. For this, all you can do is make sure your performance in these modules is stellar and that you remember what you’ve learnt. If you’re in your second year getting ready to apply in your third year, it’s worth considering what third year modules may help you stand out in the application process and pursuing those.
The career-focused questions, should your application have them, is a very reflective portion of the application process; and so is a great opportunity to take some time to think about what career path you would like to take. The most important thing to remember here is to be as specific as possible by identifying the main industry you would like to pursue a job in and what your back-up industry would be. Within this, try to narrow your list of ideal organisations to work with in each industry down to 4 or 5 firms and find out the specific roles you would like to join after finishing business school. This will require a lot of research and a considerable amount of introspection to find out what career you want to go into. Ultimately however, this will provide you with a good foundation to plan your career and take the appropriate steps to achieve your career goals regardless of whether you get into business school or not.
This section may ask you to provide details surrounding 3-4 of your most recent work experiences. It’s important to utilise this section to showcase your achievements in the workplace and the specific skills you developed. If you can, you should certainly highlight how those skills will help you in specific modules that you would do in the course you’re applying to.
Your application may also require you to answer a set of essay questions. These can range from those asking you to describe a time during your undergraduate studies when you had to overcome a challenge to asking you which person you’d choose, dead or alive, to go to dinner with. At first, such questions can seem too vague to answer; so, we recommend using a specific theme/story to structure your essay. This will ensure your answers flow well and will help you stand out by providing a level authenticity and grounding to your answer; so the admissions team will know it’s not a typical, run-of-the-mill response.
The video interview is an important part of the application process and will help the admissions team get a better idea of who you are, your personality and whether you’ll be a good fit for their school. You can expect to have a mix of competency-based questions and those which try to find out more about what type of person you are; you may even get some quantitative questions depending on your course choice. While it’s a good idea to prepare for some questions with a few bullet points, make sure you don’t sound rehearsed when you record your interview. Overall, it’s important for you to be yourself and let your personality shine.
Overall, it’s important for you to be yourself and let your personality shine.
All the above should provide you with a good insight into the application process for business schools, putting you in a good position to start your journey. However, consider the following Bright Ideas to give your application a competitive edge:
- Meet the admissions team! Once applications open, many schools will host insight evenings, coffee meetings and other such opportunities to give you an insight into the course and the University. Insight evenings are a particularly great opportunity giving you the opportunity to network with fellow students, their student ambassadors and their admissions team. More often than not you’ll find their insights and advice to be pivotal to a successful application. Use these events to not only find out more about the course but to also connect with those around with you; from the admissions team and student ambassadors to the other prospective students.
- Be organised! We highly recommend making a spreadsheet to keep yourself organised as you navigate your business school applications. You can use this to keep track of the different applications your making to different business schools and your progress through each, together with the link to their application portal, the closing dates of each application to ensure you submit yours on time. You can even take note of the name and contact details of the people you meet at insight evenings and networking events.
- Prepare early! If you’re in your second (Or even first) year of undergraduate study and have already firmly decided on going to business school to do a Master’s, be sure to get involved in extra-curricular activities you are passionate about. Activities such as leading a society and competing as part of a sports team, amongst a plethora of other things, will really help you build an all-rounded candidate profile.