Interesting Business School Admission Criteria (EQ)

Came across an interesting article in the WSJ about Business Schools using the way you handle your emotions and thought strategies as admissions criteria. What do you guys think about this?

From WSJ:

Forget what you know. Business schools increasingly want to know what you feel.

Schools are trying to choose from a crowded pool of well-qualified applicants and get a sense of the human being behind the application by adding personality tests and scored, standardized in-person interviews to the traditional battery of essays, transcripts and recommendations. Now, prospective M.B.A. students need to shine by showing emotional traits like empathy, motivation, resilience and dozens of others.

Measuring EQ--or emotional intelligence quotient--is the latest attempt by business schools to identify future stars. Since students typically start their job hunts almost as soon as they arrive on campus, the schools have little time to fix any faults.

"Companies select for top talent with assessments like this," says Andrew Sama, senior associate director of M.B.A. admissions at University of Notre Dame's Mendoza College of Business. "If we are selecting for future business leaders, why shouldn't we be [using] similar tools?"

Since the fall of 2010, Mendoza applicants have been required to complete a 206-item online questionnaire called the Personal Characteristics Inventory. It screens them for traits the school has found in its most successful students and graduates, such as teamwork and leadership abilities.


Comments (4)

Jun 4, 2013

This is indeed true. Take a look at the Stanford Business School recommendation form (link here: and you'll see what they consider leadership behavior a lot different than just having a title or even managing a team.
For example, the highest-rated behavior under "Influence and Collaboration" is defined as
"Builds enduring partnerships within and outside of organization to improve effectiveness, even at short-term personal cost"

Actually, emotional intelligence has been around for a long while. Business schools are actively searching for students with high emotional intelligence. In a seminal 1998 Harvard Business Review article, "What Makes a Leader," Daniel Goleman attempted to answer the question with specific attributes of effective leaders. Goleman wrote in the HBR article, "It's not that IQ and technical skills are irrelevant....They do matter, but mainly as 'threshold capabilities.' But...emotional intelligence is the sine qua non of leadership." (Link here:
But here's the money quote: Goleman found that

while the qualities traditionally associated with leadership - such as intelligence, toughness, determination, and vision - are required for success, they are insufficient. Truly effective leaders are also distinguished by a high degree of emotional intelligence, which includes self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skill.

More details on those five components here:

But for those who don't click, here's a little blurb on the trickiest one to understand, self-regulation:

Goleman identifies "comfort with ambiguity" and "openness to change," as hallmarks of the "self-regulation" component of emotional intelligence. Self-regulation separates the good candidates from great candidates. Business life is filled with unpredictable events. The leaders who will excel are the ones who will be able to roll with change, not in a detached way, but realistically. Stuff happens. Sometimes it is good for the bottom line, sometimes not. And sometimes it's just not clear. If a candidate has an example of achievement in spite of ambiguity, I encourage her to write about it.

Hope this helps.

Betsy Massar
Come see me at my Q&A thread Ask away!

Jun 4, 2013

Wasn't this always evaluated in interviews?

Jun 5, 2013

The purpose of the interview is for them to make sure you aren't an awkward tool.

Jun 5, 2013