Mission Admission is a series of MBA admission tips; a new one is posted each Tuesday.
One of the most common questions we hear from applicants is “What type of candidate is HBS/Stanford/Wharton/Chicago Booth/etc. looking for?” Of course, the answer to that question is that schools do not want one type of applicant. Instead, each school is seeking to assemble a remarkably diverse class and thus wants to be able to identify distinct qualities in each candidate.
Although trying to simplify a school’s approach to admissions (“Kellogg wants team players!”) can be appealing, you should avoid trying to fit some perceived mold, because doing so will only mask your true distinct qualities. Rather than pandering to a stereotype with regard to your personal/professional experiences or changing your stated goals to match an imagined bias on the part of an MBA admissions committee, you should spend a great deal of time brainstorming to best understand how you can showcase your unique traits. By showing that you offer something different than other candidates, you have the greatest chance of succeeding.