While verifying the claims and exaggerations, Admission team has a resume side by side with the essays. The verification process is not limited to the information offered in the resume. Student database, wikipedia, job portals, blogs, and LinkedIn offer copious amount of information about organizations, universities, companies, and job roles.
MBA admissions team do fact checking while reading the essays or delegate the task to other specialists in the team. Applicants tend to exaggerate, knowingly or unknowingly, mostly overstating facts, roles, or achievements. By wearing your ‘Fact Checking hat,’ you can avoid some embarrassing mistakes before the final review.
Here are five Common Exaggeration & Lies:
1) Employment Details
Most applicants tend to hide gaps in employment, feeling that any revelation regarding poor employability would lead to low profile scores. On the contrary, Admission Committee (AdCom) respects applicants who are open about the Employment Gap due to factors like failed venture, working for non-profit, and trying other career paths. A separate space in MBA Application essays is included to cover such anomalies. We have showed how to write the Optional Essay in Winning MBA Essay Guide.
AdCom often finds inconsistencies when they read your essays and notes that you have suspiciously missed mentioning anything about the first job. Most professionals make several mistakes during their first job, and it is unlikely that they will not include experiences about that tenure in one of the failures or lessons learned essays.
2) Company & Project Details
Most applicants make minor mistakes regarding the revenue of the company, profits, or the customer base, but these minor gaffes start affecting your credibility when it is closely tied to your achievements. Quantifying result is an important exercise for MBA application essays, and most applicants will not have the exact numbers on the profits or revenue share. To quantify your contribution, we recommend creating an IMPACT table.
Some recommenders might hesitate to reveal such numbers due to confidentiality agreements, but they are willing to put a range on the numbers. When there are inconsistencies in the number quoted by the applicant and the recommender, the results look bloated. Make sure that you check the numbers with the recommender, preferably someone who is a project manager or knows the numbers. AdCom can easily make a quick estimate on the revenue earned per project based on the size of the company.
Most experiences shared in Essays are related to professional lives, but there are some essays that require you to introspect, and reveal how your interest in a particular subject began. Some applicants cleverly incorporate the grades, cite the professors that influenced them, and trace the origins of their career path. This is all fine. What troubles AdCom is the tendency to exaggerate the grades, or emphasize that the grades were top 1% or 5%.
Business Schools have an accurate understanding on how each university grades. Even if you argue that the grading was different for your year, the school has enough information to make a call on that claim. Therefore, it would be risky to exaggerate the importance of your grade while choosing your career path. If you were genuinely motivated by the grade, include that detail in the essay. If you exaggerate the grades, a quick crosscheck with your original transcript will reveal the truth.
Related: F1GMAT's Winning MBA Essay Guide
The most common exaggeration that we have seen is related to roles. Almost all MBA application essays require you to specify your role and the duties that were part of the role. You cannot explain your achievements, without offering some context about the role but strangely, applicants take this as a hint to exaggerate their role as leaders. This is unnecessary.
Leadership has several qualities. Active listening, pro-activeness, focus, personal responsibility, humility, fast learning, creativity, and active communication are some of the common ones. Not all leadership roles require managing 3-4 team members. Once you understand what leadership means, the pressure to exaggerate roles will not consume you. With a balanced narrative, AdCom will understand your contribution.
5) Business School Contacts
AdCom detests applicants who overuse the names of the alumni, a current student, or even members of the admission team. Agreed that to show enthusiasm for the MBA program, citing conversation with one of the current students is important. That does not mean you have to exaggerate the number of communications or the influence that the contact had on your decision. Include multiple factors for your choice, and focus on one Business School contact as an influence. Introspect, and find whose opinion had the most impact, and include that person’s name. Don’t drop names just to impress the AdCom.
Another common mistake is including dates of campus visits. Even if you have visited the campus several times, details of your visit during an official event will be a better pick for describing your impression about the school. Without going into specifics, mention the importance of your other visits.
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Only 1 in 900 gains admission to Harvard MBA program. If you write your essay focused only on your achievements, post-MBA goals, and your pre-MBA experience, you will be among the 899 rejected applicants.
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