What Is The Most Desirable Attribute For MBA Candidates?

It is the million dollar question for every prospective MBA – what is the admissions department looking for in assessing my application?

A new report by the Association of MBAs (AMBA) and the Education Centre of Excellence at Parthenon-EY found that when business school staff were asked which attributes they desired the most in candidates when recruiting MBA students, prior experience in business or leadership positions was ranked the most desirable important.

The Global Business School Leaders’ Survey sought to identify key trends, challenges and regional perspectives on the future of post-graduate business education from leading business school’s staff from across the world. More than 170 business school staff participated in the survey.

The survey also sought to identify where business schools are focusing their recruitment efforts and what specific attributes they desired most from applicants.

When asked to rank the importance of desirable characteristics of prospective MBA students on a scale of 0 – not important to 4 – all important, respondents ranked experience in business/leadership as the most important attribute, with a weighted score of 3.4.

Oral and/or written communication skills were the second most-valued attribute among respondents, with a score of 2.9. In contrast, forms of standardised testing – be that academic or Business School specific examinations – were ranked among the least desirable when making offers to prospective MBA students.

Looking forward to the future of MBA study, almost 70% of respondents indicated that specialist MBA programmes were a growing trend, despite this, less than a third offered an industry-specific MBA programme at the time of completing the survey.

These have a major impact on the student lifecycle whether that recruiting students, delivering their course and supporting students to find roles upon graduation.

Danish Faruqui, Managing Director in Parthenon-EY’s Education Centre of Excellence, said: “The focus on innovation and creativity in MBA delivery is one of the most compelling findings of the study and indicates that business school leaders are keen to differentiate their offerings in an increasingly crowded market.”

The study’s findings were presented to a packed room of Deans and MBA Directors at AMBA’s 50th Anniversary Global Conference in Dubai by Parthenon-EY’s Managing Director Ashwin Assomull.

The Association of MBAs (AMBA) is the impartial authority on postgraduate management education and is committed to raising its profile and quality standards internationally for the benefit of business schools, students and alumni and employers.

As of early April 2017, AMBA had a worldwide membership community of over 25,000 members and a presence in every continent. This forms a rich network of varied insights that are shared through an active online community.


Ben Ready
Ben Ready founded MBA News in 2014 and is the Managing Editor. He is a former business and finance journalist with Australian Associated Press (AAP) and Dow Jones Newswires in London. Ben completed his MBA in 2012 and was awarded the QUT GMAA Entrepreneurship Prize. He is also the founder and Managing Director of RGC Media & Mktng (rgcmm.com.au).