The QS World MBA Tour is coming to a city near you starting today September 9 in Santiago and Taipei. It continues with events throughout North American, Europe, the Middle East, India, Asia, and Latin America.
In addition to the traditional MBA fair and booths, The World MBA Tour offers Connect 1-2-1, a program where you can register for an individual time meeting with admissions directors at leading schools.
1. How should applicants prepare for a fair so that they can get the most out of the event?
It’s important that applicants know why they are there and what the most important questions are. After all, they can impress potential business school admissions officers with targeted questions. Admissions officers at the QS World MBA Tour most often complain about candidates who ask questions like “What’s an MBA?” and “How hard is the GMAT?” By visiting TopMBA.com and narrowing down options, doing some research and knowing something about the top business schools you want to talk to (and why) a candidate will stand out above a large percentage of their competitors. Also, bring a CV with a photo so that the admissions people, who may meet thousands of candidates, can far more easily associate a face with a name. Business cards can help too.
2. What are reasonable goals for spending a few hours at an MBA fair?
Candidates should come out with a much better idea of what business school can offer them, and which schools are most appropriate for them. They should get an idea of what duration (one or two years) might suit them better, what specializations they can consider, how they could get funding and so on. However don’t expect an offer of a place at business school at an MBA fair. Realistically to make a good contact at a handful of schools and then follow up those contacts is the best bet, as well as taking some schools off your shortlist that do not suit you.
3. What should applicants do while at the fair to get the most out of it?
There is an entire article devoted to this on topmba.com, but if I can summarise: get there early and see who is where on the planning sheet; prepare by visiting topmba.com first and draw up a list of criteria that you personally want – including what you hope to get out of an MBA and future plans; focus on realistic options for you, rather than just the big name schools attending; map out questions in advance and try and make them relevant – asking “what does MBA stand for?” won’t impress anyone; don’t overload admissions officers as they are busy and prepare an ‘elevator pitch’ so that you can tell them all about you in less than two minutes; don’t just focus on admissions officers as there may well be school alumni at some tables to talk to; look the part by leaving your shorts and flip flops at home; consider your funding options in advance so that representatives know where you stand in that regard; use the information sessions such as the pre-fair Master classes and panel discussions; evaluate the schools and trust your instincts and, finally, relax and enjoy yourself!
4. How much time should an applicant try to grab with a school representative at a fair?
They should try and grab as much as possible with the appropriate schools and the minimum possible with the others, which is why preparation is the key. There’s no point in chatting with a school that is renowned for its strength in marketing if you have zero interest in marketing, for example. If a school admission officer thinks you are appropriate for their school, and they for you, they will naturally give you more time. However they have to see perhaps over a hundred people so you will probably get about five minutes with them. These people are experts and if they sense that there is a good fit then they will get your contact details, give you theirs and follow up for a longer phone or email conversation at a later date. QS Connect 1-2-1 was created to address this issue. Serious candidates are invited to attend 30-minute sessions with admissions directors. Look at www.topmba.com/connect for further details of this.
5. Is it appropriate to ask for a business card and to contact the representative after a fair?
Absolutely. In fact the QS World MBA Tour has a system, called Outreach, where each candidate is given a number, which the representative can note down and then access all of the candidate’s details at the press of a button. If there is a good fit then they can get in touch easily. But yes, taking their contact details is fine.
6. What are common mistakes applicants make when participating in MBA fairs?
You can’t really make mistakes as such but we commonly see a lack of preparedness; an assumption that school reps are there only to see them as an individual; spending too long talking with schools that are inappropriate for them; asking questions that prove they aren’t serious candidates – I have had to explain, for example, the difference between an MBA and the National Basketball Association, or to a candidate who asked which school could help him get a job as a pilot; getting there too late to see the schools they want to see. But the key word is ‘preparation’.
7. What is appropriate attire?
There is no dress code whatsoever. However Hawaiian shirts and flip flops might fool some admissions officers into thinking that you are not a serious candidate…
8. How does the Top MBA Connect 1-2-1 complement the traditional circulating among tables and booths done at most MBA fairs?
Connect 1-2-1 is the next step for those candidates who have already attended a large scale MBA fair, or who would like to submit applications within the next 6 months. You get up to half an hour of quality time with admissions directors on a one-to-one basis, no crowds, no queues. What’s more, as these are pre-matched events, you know the schools are already interested in you, so it’s your chance to make a great impression in an uninterrupted environment, maximising your chances of being offered a place. It’s also a great forum to get in-depth information about what a school can offer you, not to mention great interview practice. If you are a serious applicant, these events are perfect for you, we have many previous attendees who have been offered places at their top schools after attending. You can find out more and submit your online registration at www.topmba.com/connect.