With London Business School announcing its essay questions for the upcoming application season this week, we thought it a good time to check in with David Simpson, admissions director for the school’s MBA and Master in Finance programs, to see what led to some of the changes implemented this year.
In brief, LBS has decided to reduce the number of essays it requires from two to one, while retaining an optional essay.
“Along with all the questions we ask in the application form, we believe that the [single required] essay gives us the information we need to make our initial admissions decision,” Simpson says.
Alumni Interview Most Significant in Decision-Making Process
The decisions that Simpson and his team make hinge most on the face-to-face alumni interview LBS requires all candidates to take before issuing an offer, he says.
Less than half of all applicants will receive an invitation to progress to the interview phase, he adds. Candidates who are invited to interview usually do so locally wherever they live in the world with alumni the LBS team has matched them with carefully.
“This gives our alumni a great stake in the future of their school, gives the candidate a chance to spend time with someone who went through the program and provides us with incredibly useful feedback to aid our admissions decisions,” says Simpson. “We can get a lot more from these face-to-face interviews than we would from essays, so we decided to trim the up-front requirement and focus on the essential questions.”
Simpson adds that for some candidates, his team will also use video interview questions and sometimes follow-up interviews with senior admissions staff.
“As we recruit such a diverse group of students from all around the world across every employment sector, crafting the perfect class is a very involved process,” he says. “But it’s a process our dedicated and talented team love working on!”