How to use the ‘Art of Questioning’ for MBA Research?

MBA Research Art of QuestioningThere are plenty of reliable sources covering Business School comparison, Interview with Admission Officers, Interview with Alumni & Current Students, and Business School ranking. What MBA aspirants must develop is a process of questioning that would help them with decision making.

Socratic Method of questioning and dialogue might be useful in classroom discussions, and interactions with Alumni & Current students. But use it with care as a pretense of intellectual superiority can quickly discourage Alumni from opening up.

The process that we recommend is useful after you have collected all relevant information about Business Schools, and MBA programs. It follows 3-step:

1) Question Assumption

As we collect information, and interact with Alumni & Current students, biases are developed, and preferences set. This can be contributed by the manner in which the school representatives address your concerns, and the honesty with which students share some of the weaknesses of the program. Nevertheless, you are inclined to find some programs to be more favorable than others based on several assumptions. Unless you question this assumption, an impartial decision becomes impossible. Use the following questions:

a) What are the assumptions about the School, MBA Program, students, alumni, professors, campus, and their reputation among recruiters?

List them out for each element in simple English.

MIT Sloan Students: Friendly & Helpful
MIT Sloan Professors: Encourages collaboration & Gives the extra attention.

b) How did you come with the assumption?

List the sources that were influential in creating the assumption. It can be friends, business school community, alumni, or other reputed websites.

c) How can you verify the assumption?

Find out alternate sources for verifying your assumption. It can be a different group of Alumni, based on the year of passing or nationality. You can check multiple data sources to check the veracity of the facts listed in the MBA page. Check for inconsistencies.

2) Question Achievements

Another effect of absorbing data about ranking and other achievements is that aspirants tends to take them as facts without verifying the ranking methodology or its implications on their career goals.

Use the following questions:

a) What does ranking mean for the MBA program?

MBA Aspirants have to learn about the ranking methodology, and understand the process behind them before reaching any conclusion. The sample set, response rate, and the preference in various ranking factors influence how an MBA program is ranked at #10 or #33. The factors need not necessarily be impartial. For example, a leading ranking publication considers the opinion of deans from leading Business Schools as one of the biggest factor. When ranking is influenced by fewer opinions, biases will skew the results. MBA Aspirants should not blindly follow any rankings.

b) What does Return on Investment mean?

We have written an elaborate article on return on investment, comparing MIT & Stanford MBA program based on Net Present Value. The methodology that you use influence ROI, and even for the top 5 MBA programs, a positive return can only be expected after 3-5 years. Therefore, anyone getting into an MBA program expecting a ‘Get-Rich-Quick program’ will be disappointed. Return on Investment can be calculated based on cost, duration, short-term return, and long-term return. Therefore, set your priority before calculating ROI.

c) What does MBA Experience Mean?

For some, MBA experience mean getting the opportunity to travel and work with professionals from different cultures while for some it means getting expertise in a new domain with limited travel. Understand your preference, and pick programs accordingly. Most top MBA programs will have both these elements but one will find favor over the other.

3) Question Consequences

Once you pick a position, it is time to understand what happens if you have one preference. By clearing understanding the consequences of your decision, you will be better informed to make such decisions.

Use the following questions:

a) What will happen if I choose ‘X’ MBA program?

Once you have validated your assumptions, you will know what it means to pick one MBA program. This is your opportunity to articulate your future based on choosing ‘X’ MBA program.

Example: I will get the opportunity to work with ‘Z’ student body, opening up opportunity to work with ‘A’ , ‘B’ , ‘C’, and develop my skills in ‘D’.

List out at least five major impact of this decision.

b) What will happen if I assume that ‘X’ MBA program is good for ‘Y’?

This question can only be asked after checking the employment report for the past 3-years, and verifying that ‘X’ MBA program is good for ‘Y’.  The ‘Y’ can be any factor that you find relevant for your post-MBA goals. It can be job function, industry, and job location.

c) What will happen if I prefer ‘X’ teaching methodology?

MBA Experience is impacted the most by the teaching methodology. For aspirants who are used to classroom lectures, and discussions, case based or experiential learning might be a new experience. But has the new model helped Alumni? This question will push aspirants to collect evidence on the same.

Curiosity might not come naturally to most MBA aspirants but knowing the ‘Art of Questioning’ will open up a new perspective on selecting MBA programs.

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+ How to Choose the Best MBA Program: Factors to Consider
Define Post-MBA Goals
Pick your Path: Generalize or Specialize
Use Moral Algebra Method 
Use Multi-Attribute Utility Theory
Understand the Top 5 Risks
Measure MBA Career Service Team's Effectiveness
Use Bookending to Calculate MBA Admission Chance
Use Net Present Value to Calculate MBA Return on Investment
Don't Fall for the Mere Exposure Effect
Best Practices to find the truth in MBA Information Session or MBA Tour

Comprehensive MBA Research Guide:
Top MBA Programs by 19 Specializations:
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+ Finance
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+ Top MBA Program Ranking
Top 20 MBA Programs - Tuition Fee (2018)    
Top 31 MBA Programs in United States – Total Cost & Salary (2017)    

Top 60 MBA – GMAT and GPA (Average & Median)
Top 20 European MBA Programs - Tuition Fee, Total Cost & Salary    
Top 20 European MBA Programs (Based on Actual Salary Increase)    
Top 20 European MBA Programs (Short-term return on investment)    
Top 20 Affordable European MBA Programs    
Top 10 MBA in UK – Salary & Fee (2018)  
Top MBA Destinations Based on Happiness Index    
Top MBA Destinations based on Innovation Index    
Top 10 MBA Job Markets based on Cost of living and Purchasing Power    
Top MBA Destination: By Economy    

+Comparisons - Top MBA Programs
Wharton vs. Columbia MBA (2018)  
MIT vs. Stanford MBA   (2017)
Haas vs. Ross MBA    
Kellogg vs Ross MBA    
Booth vs Wharton MBA    
MIT Sloan vs Tuck MBA    
IIMA vs. ISB   

Harvard vs. Stanford MBA (2017)

+ MBA in France (2018)
Top Industries in France   
Top MBA Programs in France  

  Class Profile   
  Post-MBA Salary

Scholarships in France
External Funding 

+ MBA in the UK (2018)
Top Industries in the UK   
Top MBA Programs in the UK

  Class Profile   
  Post-MBA Salary

Scholarships in the UK
External Funding 

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