The Biggest Mistakes Candidates Make on their MBA Applications


Applicants are always eager to put their best application forward, so I asked my team about some of the more common pitfalls they see in applications. 

This is what they said: 

Not picking the right recommender. I’ve seen too many candidates go for a prestigious title (like CEO, etc.), but the person knows next to nothing about the candidate. Pick a recommender who knows you well and who can speak to your growth in a professional setting. Anything less is a waste of a crucial data point.

Taya Sapp

One of the biggest downfalls of an MBA application is a neglected resume. This is the first thing I read when I open an application package, since it’s a snapshot of a candidate’s entire career. A well-crafted, easy-to-read resume is absolutely essential for application success.

Diana Economy

Candidates agonize over essays, but end up writing about only what they think AdComs want to hear. I can tell when an essay isn’t genuine. An essay that just reiterates a resume bullet point or waxes poetic about how great Michigan Ross is doesn’t let us get to know the candidate, which is what we REALLY want to know.

Kanika Holt

A ‘boomerang’ candidate - one who is always coming back. Demonstrating enthusiasm for Michigan Ross is awesome, and I love to see it, but with ubiquitous Zoom sessions and tons of emails, too much contact can send the wrong message. It’s important for candidates to practice good meeting and communication etiquette early, because the application process is the perfect proxy for how a candidate will behave with recruiters.

Michael Lippert 

I hope these quick tips help you navigate some of the more common mistakes applicants make. But don’t sweat the small stuff too much - nobody’s application is perfect. If you want to delve more deeply into each of the application’s components, drop in to our weekly office hours or check out our 30 Minute Tips