My colleagues and I have been travelling the globe on the MBA Fair circuit over the last few months so we’ve met LOTS of potential MBA students. With the hundreds of candidates we meet, there are some that make a good impression and some that don’t! When you’re meeting school representatives, you must remember that every interaction — whether an email, phone call, or event — is an opportunity to make an impression. If a recruiting representative is going to remember you, you want it to be for the right reasons; sometimes a bad impression has a more lasting effect than a good one. So, here are some tips for making a GOOD lasting impression as you continue with your research this recruiting season.
If you’re at an en masse event like an MBA Fair or Information Session, make a point of introducing yourself (with a strong handshake!) to the recruiting and admissions team representative(s). We see so many faces in this line of work that sometimes a simple gesture like that will help us remember your face, and it shows that you’ve got the confidence and professionalism to approach us. This is also helpful because when we follow up via email or a phone call after the event, we’ll have a face to put to the name!
Do your homework on the school or program and come prepared. Understand the purpose of the event or meeting, and if there’s any work that needs to be done beforehand (like our First Class on the Road events where you get the case in advance!) be sure to come ready to participate. If you’re meeting with a school representative informally or one-on-one, it’s helpful to have a copy of your resumé or CV as well. These interactions with the recruiting team are your opportunity to get an insider’s glimpse into the admissions process, program structure, and overall program experience. Prepare some questions in advance (no question is a stupid question) and at the same time, don’t be afraid to grill the representatives. We like tough questions, and it demonstrates to us that the candidate is serious and thoughtful about their MBA research.
Keep General Questions General
Usually after an event or presentation, there will be time for a group question and answer period. Don’t use this time to ask questions that are specific to your individual profile or circumstance. Thoughtful questions that are valuable or beneficial to all attendees demonstrate self-awareness and a respect for your fellow candidates. Use the time after the formal portion of the event to speak with the recruiting representatives one-on-one, or request to schedule a follow-up meeting or phone call.
Dress The Part
Always err on the side of caution when choosing your wardrobe. Business casual dress is usually a safe bet (no jackets or ties required) but be sure you’ve put some care and polish into your appearance. Better to be overdressed than underdressed. Avoid jeans and running shoes. This may be the one example of a situation where you don’t want to stick out and be remembered!
Be Conscious of the Time
If you’re at an event where current students and alumni are in attendance, make sure you take some time to speak with them. They are THE best resources for information about life in the program and can often provide great insights into how the experience has impacted their life or career. Sometimes a school may even connect you to a student or alum individually. But, be conscious of his or her time. Access to students and alumni is typically done at their discretion and agreement, so remember that they are volunteering their time out of a very busy schedule to speak with you. If you (or they), suggest a time limit for the conversation, be sure to honour it. This goes for recruiting representatives also. If you’re in a group, ensure that you give others a chance to speak and ask their questions as well and be careful not to monopolize the conversation. Most alums, students, and reps will stick around after the formal portion of an event, but keep your eye on the end time and make a graceful exit when you see things wrapping up. If you have more questions for the recruiting team, this is a great opportunity to ask for a one-on-one meeting or phone call.
Nothing leaves a better impression than a follow-up email after a meeting or recruiting event. As a recruiting team, it’s always helpful for us to know if the conversation or event was valuable for you and it’s another opportunity to make a memorable impression. It’s also a great way to start/continue dialogue with the program representatives. Choosing your MBA is a big decision and investment, so your relationship with the recruiting and admissions team should be more than just transactional. Stay in touch, and keep them updated on your decision-making progress.
As you continue through the recruiting process, remember that the best way to stick out and be memorable is by being authentic. Be yourself in every interaction, and you’ll be well on your way to finding the program that’s the right fit for you.