How Do You Write A Winning MBA Application?

Kai Stenzel, who is responsible for marketing, admissions, and career development at Mannheim Business School, answers this week's Applicant Question

It's time for another Applicant Question of the Week at BusinessBecause!

Every week, we give you the opportunity to ask one of our chosen admissions experts anything you want to know about getting into business school. One question each week is chosen for our expert to answer.

This week, our question comes from an anonymous user.

Their question is answered by Kai Stenzel, chief marketing and admissions officer at Mannheim Business School.

Applicant Question of the Week:

Dear BusinessBecause, 

How can I ensure my MBA application is consistent and successful?

The Answer:

Just imagine you have a great business idea but need a business partner to put it into action.

You would scrutinize any potential candidate very closely.

For one thing, you will be looking for someone who complements your expertise with their knowledge and skills. But you will also want someone who is likeable and shares similar goals and values.

Business schools select their future MBA participants in a very similar way, particularly when classes are relatively small.

They usually intend to create a learning culture in which participants work very closely together and learn from and with one another.

This explains their comprehensive application processes, which often pursue two main goals.

On the one hand, schools want applicants to present as full a picture of themselves as possible; and on the other hand, they want them to give a clear explanation as to why they want to enroll in that MBA program in particular.

For many schools, the specific elements of the admissions process have similar purposes.

The application documents, which comprise the recommendation letter, certificates, English language certification, and a GMAT score report, give a first impression of the applicant.

How good has their academic performance been so far? What were the professional milestones of their career and how were these judged by their superiors?

What areas have they focused on in their studies and career? What were their major achievements so far?

The first interview with the admissions manager aims at getting to know the candidates better.

Queries arising from the application documents are resolved and the reasons behind the candidates’ decision to complete an MBA at their chosen institution and become part of the school's community are assessed.

We require reasons other than the country’s attractive labor market or relatively low tuition fees!

As previously mentioned, schools are looking for participants who have made a conscious decision to opt for the respective school and network.

Incidentally, these interviews are also a very good opportunity for applicants to put forward their own questions. Indeed, we explicitly encourage them to do so.

Need interview tips? Read The 4 Biggest Mistakes You Can Make In An MBA Interview



For Mannheim in particular, the application process includes a case study, the central element of the second interview.

We delve even deeper to get a fuller impression of the candidates’ technical proficiency: How do they structure and deal with complex issues? What solutions do they present? And, even more important, how?

At our school, program management and career development staff participate in this interview. The reason for this is very straightforward: we are looking for applicants whose personality and expertise will enrich our classes, and whose profile and expectations would give them a distinct advantage in the labor market.

At this point, applicants are again encouraged to ask questions.

After putting all this information together, each application is discussed in the admissions committee meeting. Only coherent profiles will be in the running for a positive admissions decision.

Ultimately, the entire application process revolves around a single question. Is the applicant compatible with the institution, the student and alumni community, and the program?

After all, both the graduates and the school would like their expectations to have been met by the end of the program and afterwards, in the alumni community.

This is why every applicant should present a clear, honest, and coherent story throughout the admissions process.

It should explain why they want to enroll in the respective MBA program, what they want to achieve, and why their personality and skills would enrich the class.

Whoever answers the questions truthfully and genuinely needs not fear an extensive selection process.

Ask an Admissions Expert a Question! cropped-image2.jpg

Next week, you'll have the opportunity to ask Yolanda Habets, full-time MBA program director for Vlerick Business School.

Yolanda has over 15 years of management experience in both Europe and the US, in roles where she has helped students achieve their professional and personal goals in Europe, and globally.

Got a question you'd love Yolanda to answer? Submit your question on our TwitterFacebook, or LinkedIn pages, send us an email to, or simply post a comment below! 

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