What are the specific characteristics that you target in the applications to help you identify the “best fit” candidates?

The most important trait we look for is leadership.  We don’t have a formula like 50% is leadership and 20% is something else.  The admission decision is more of a fluid process.  However, it would be very difficult for our MBA Admissions Committee to admit you if you do not show enormous potential for leadership.  We look for evidence of leadership, particularly in environments similar to those in which you are likely to work after business school.  We are looking for people who have been truly influential in the workplace.  We do not have a preference for a particular career or industry experience.  We are not interested in having an entire class of people who have engineering backgrounds or an entire class of people with liberal arts backgrounds.  We really want the gamut of what is out there.   I would also like to mention that if a candidate is comes from a liberal arts background,  that person will have to demonstrate to the Admissions Committee that he or she is prepared to compete with other MBA candidates who have strong backgrounds in quantitative course work.  We do consider an applicant’s GMAT score as one indicator of quantitative ability.

So an applicant’s GMAT score is really important?

The GMAT score is very important in that it is the only universally available performance indicator we receive from our application pool in a given year.  However, the GMAT is not necessarily the be-all or end-all.  It is one piece of information – among many – that we consider.  We also consider along with the GMAT score how you have done in previous classes, what your recommenders say about you, whether or not you are working in your native language and/or what your work experience is.  It is possible not to be admitted because of your performance on the GMAT, and but most of the time there are other things in addition to the GMAT score that led to that decision.  A great score is not going to take the place of leadership, poise, presence, good letters of recommendation, or your interview.  You want to make sure you have a competitive score and tie together your performance on the test with the rest of your application.

Do you have any advice you would give to applicants who struggle with this exam?

First of all my heart goes out to them because I know how frustrating it can be.  I often meet applicants whose GMAT scores do not represent their abilities.  The first thing I would want them to know is that the Admissions Committee here at UNC will look at their entire application.  I like to encourage applicants to do everything they can to do well on the GMAT.  If your GMAT is really low, show the admissions committee other things that will help them believe you can do the work.  Show us courses you’ve taken recently.  Don’t wait too late to tackle the GMAT.  Register for the test, do your prep if you need or want to, recognize that you are competing against others who are prepping.  Find out sooner rather than later if GMAT is going to be an issue for you.  We see candidates all the time who have waited until the last minute to take the test and are blown away by a poor score with no time to recover.

What is the GMAT score range for admitted applicants this past year?

The range of applicants that are enrolling this year range from 550 to 780.  Considering the scores received in the 500’s, I would like to say that there is typically a higher rate of denials to applicants with a lower score because they were unable to demonstrate how they would keep up in a class of people who received higher scores.  With that said, there are people with GMAT scores in the 500’s who do get admitted because we expect that they will bring attributes to our program that add tremendously to the class.

What should applicants most heavily emphasize in their work experience?

There are several things that I think would be important.  The applicants should be a lot less concerned about their resume format.  The most important things we want to see in a resume are: for what were you accountable, the results you achieved, and what were the tools or specific skills or knowledge you gained from the experience.  I want to see in those results what you have accomplished and what makes you different from another prospective applicant with a similar background.

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