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Babson / Olin MBA Recommendation Questions

The F.W. Olin Graduate School of Business at Babson College MBA application requires a single professional recommendation. You may submit a second recommendation, but that is optional. No more than two recommendations will be considered. The recommendation form is based on the Common Letter of Recommendation from GMAC. The Babson MBA recommendation questions for the current admissions season are as follows.

2023-2024 Babson MBA Recommendation Questions

Section 1 Recommender Information

Context of Relationship

  • Current Employer
  • Previous Employer
  • University/Academic
  • Extra Curricular/Community
  • Other

Nature of Relationship

  • Direct Supervisor
  • Other Supervisor
  • Advisor/Mentor
  • Colleague/Peer
  • Direct Report
  • Indirect Report
  • Client/Customer
  • Business Partner/Investor
  • Vendor
  • Professor/Instructor
  • Other

How long have you known the applicant?

During which period of time have you had the most frequent contact with the applicant?

If you are affiliated with Babson College, please select the option that most closely matches.

  • Faculty
  • F.W. Olin Graduate School of Business graduate
  • Babson College graduate
  • Staff
  • Other
  • Not affiliated

May we contact you regarding this applicant?

How would you like to submit your recommendation?

  • Online
  • Upload recommendation letter

babson mba recommendation

Section 2: Leadership Assessment Grid

In this section, you will find 12 competencies and character traits that contribute to successful leadership. The competencies and character traits are grouped into five categories:

  • Achievement
  • Influence
  • People
  • Personal Qualities
  • Cognitive Abilities

For each competency, please select the one button that corresponds to the behavior that you have seen the applicant most consistently exhibit. We acknowledge that all applicants have both areas of strength and areas of needed development. Your candid and honest appraisal will assist in evaluation of the applicant. Please assume that each level builds upon behaviors described in the previous level.


Initiative: Acts ahead of need/anticipates problems.

1 – Poor: Reluctant to take on new tasks; waits to be told what to do; defers to others.
2 – Fair: Willing to step in and take charge when required to do so.
3 – Good: Takes charge spontaneously when problem needs attention.
4 – Very Good: Volunteers for new work challenges; proactively puts in extra effort to accomplish critical or difficult tasks.
5 – Excellent: Proactively seeks high-impact projects; steps up to challenges even when things are not going well.

Results Orientation: Focuses on and drives toward delivering on goals, objectives, and performance improvement.

1 – Poor: Focuses on fulfilling activities at hand; unsure how work relates to goals.
2 – Fair: Takes actions to overcome obstacles to achieve goals.
3 – Good: Independently acts to exceed goals and plans for contingencies.
4 – Very Good: Documents activities and outcomes to learn from past; introduces incremental improvements to raise the effectiveness of team.
5 – Excellent: Invents new approaches with measurably better results; works to deliver best-in-class performance improvements.


Communication, Professional Impression & Poise: Delivers messages and ideas in a way that engages an audience and achieves buy-in; uses listening and other attending behaviors to reach shared understanding; remains calm and measured even in time of crisis or conflict

1 – Poor: Struggles to get point across; neglects to understand audience’s input or perspective; lacks confidence and gets flustered under pressure.
2 – Fair: Works to get point across; acknowledges feedback; reframes statements when necessary to make clearer; speaks politely; remains composed in known circumstances.
3 – Good: Present views clearly and logically structures content for a broad audience; listens and responds to feedback; prepares in advance to appear confident; leaves a positive and professional impression; responds confidently in unfamiliar situations.
4 – Very Good: Uses tailored language that appeals to specific groups; restates what others have said to check for understanding; comes across as confident; responds rapidly and strongly to crisis; looked to for advice and guidance.
5 – Excellent: Structures content for senior-level meetings; maintains composure when challenged; solicits opinions and concerns, discusses them openly and adjusts communication; when in strong conflict or crisis, remains cool under pressure; channels strong emotion into positive action.

Influence and Collaboration: Engages and works with people over whom he/she has no direct control.

1 – Poor: Does not seek input and perspective of others.
2 – Fair: Accepts input from others and engages them in problem solving.
3 – Good: Seeks first to understand perspectives of others; takes actions to gain their support for ideas and initiatives.
4 – Very Good: Uses tailored approaches to connect with others, influence, and achieve results.
5 – Excellent: Uses tailored influence approaches to create and leverage a network of strategically chosen individuals to improve collective outcomes.


Respect for Others: Acknowledges the value of others’ views and actions.

1 – Poor: Unwilling to acknowledge others’ points of view.
2 – Fair: Open to considering others’ views when confronted or offered.
3 – Good: Invites input from others because of expressed respect for them and their views.
4 – Very Good: Praises people publicly for their good actions; ensures that others’ opinions are heard before their own.
5 – Excellent: Uses empathy and personal experience to resolve conflicts and foster mutual respect; reinforces respect with public praise when individuals solicit and use input from others.

Team Leadership: Manages and empowers a team of direct reports or peers on project based teams (includes virtual teams).

1 – Poor: Struggles to delegate effectively (e.g. micromanages); does not organize activities or provide appropriate information to complete tasks.
2 – Fair: Assigns tasks and tells people what to do; checks when they are done.
3 – Good: Solicits ideas and perspectives from the team; structures activities; holds members accountable.
4 – Very Good: Actively engages the team to develop plans and resolve issues through collaboration; shows the impact of individual/team contributions.
5 – Excellent: Recruits others into duties or roles based on insight into individual abilities; rewards those who exceed expectations; provides strong organizational support.

Developing Others: Helps people develop their performance and ability over time.

1 – Poor: Focuses only on one’s own growth; critical of others’ efforts to develop.
2 – Fair: Encourages people to develop; points out mistakes to help people develop and praises them for improvements.
3 – Good: Gives specific positive and negative behavioral feedback to support the development of others.
4 – Very Good: Provides overarching practical guiding principles and recommendations that are applicable in multiple situations to direct or focus efforts on specific areas of development.
5 – Excellent: Identifies potential in others; inspires others to develop by providing feedback, mentoring/coaching, and identifying new growth opportunities as well as supporting their effort to change.

Personal Qualities

Trustworthiness/Integrity: Acts consistently in line with or follows explicit values, beliefs or intentions.

1 – Poor: Follows the crowd; takes path of least resistance; gives in under pressure.
2 – Fair: Acts consistently with stated intentions, values, or beliefs when it is easy to do so.
3 – Good: Acts spontaneously and consistently with stated intentions, values, or beliefs despite opposition.
4 – Very Good: Initiates actions based on values or beliefs even though the actions may come with reputational risk; demonstrates the values of the team or organization publicly.
5 – Excellent: Demonstrates high personal integrity even at personal cost; holds people accountable to the team or organizational values.

Adaptability/Resilience: Adapts to changing demands and circumstances without difficulty. Maintains calm optimism in the face of challenge, problems, or apparent failure.

1 – Poor: Prefers existing ways of doing things; fears failure; becomes anxious under challenging situations.
2 – Fair: Adapts to new methods and procedures when required to do so; remains calm in unfamiliar situations until confronted with obstacle.
3 – Good: Champions adoption of new initiatives and processes; exhibits level-headedness in most environments including challenging ones; persists until obstacle is overcome.
4 – Very Good: Seeks out disruptions as an opportunity for improvement; remains optimistic and forward-looking in difficult situations that may result in failure.
5 – Excellent: Energized by projects with high uncertainty but potential for high reward; seeks to be the first into unknown or unfamiliar situations; welcomes learning opportunities created by failure; learns from mistakes and rebounds quickly from setbacks

Self-Awareness: Aware of and seeks out additional input on own strengths and weaknesses.

1 – Poor: Lacks awareness of how he/she is perceived; denies or offers excuses when confronted.
2 – Fair: Acknowledges fault or performance problem when confronted with concrete example or data.
3 – Good: Describes own key strengths and weaknesses accurately; welcomes feedback from others and discusses opportunities to change with select individuals.
4 – Very Good: Actively seeks out feedback to explicitly address desired improvement areas or build on strengths; explores reasons for problems openly, including own faults.
5 – Excellent: Seeks out challenging and potentially risky experiences to improve; identifies and engages with resources—people, processes, or content—to maximize strengths or mitigate weaknesses.

Cognitive Abilities

Problem Solving: Frames problems, analyzes situations, identifies key issues, conducts analysis on the issues, and produces acceptable solution.

1 – Poor: Avoids problems; when faced with problems, sticks to what worked before, or chooses an obvious path.
2 – Fair: Offers solutions when the risk is low; focuses on immediate, short-term implications instead of the big picture.
3 – Good: Looks beyond the obvious; identifies and focuses on the critical information needed to understand a problem, identifies root cause(s), and comes up with reasonable solutions.
4 – Very Good: Gathers and analyzes key information using complex methods or several layers deep; integrates perspectives from a variety of sources to arrive at unexpected but practical and effective solutions.
5 – Excellent: Applies logic to break complex problems down into manageable parts or sub-problems; solves tough and interconnected problems and can explain how the pieces are connected.

Strategic Orientation: Thinks beyond one’s span of control and into the future to reshape the approach or scope of work.

1 – Poor: Focuses on completing work without understanding implications.
2 – Fair: Understands immediate issues or implications of work or analysis.
3 – Good: Develops insights or recommendations within area of responsibility that have improved near-term business performance.
4 – Very Good: Develops insights or recommendations within area of responsibility that have shaped team/organization strategy and will have impact on long-term business performance.
5 – Excellent: Develops insights or recommendations beyond area of responsibility with impact on long-term business strategy and performance.

Overall Assessment

Is there anything about your ratings on which you would like to comment? (Optional)

Based on your professional experience, how do you rate this applicant compared to her/his peer group?

  • –None–
  • Unable to assess
  • Below average
  • Average
  • Very good (well above average)
  • Excellent (top 10%)
  • Outstanding (top 5%)
  • The best encountered in my career

Overall, I…

  • –None–
  • Do not recommend this applicant.
  • Recommend this applicant, with reservations.
  • Recommend this applicant.
  • Enthusiastically recommend this applicant.

Section 3: Recommendation Questions

1. Please provide a brief description of your interaction with the applicant and, if applicable, the applicant’s role in your organization. (maximum word count: 50 words)

2. How does the performance of the applicant compare to that of other well-qualified individuals in similar roles? (E.g. what are the applicant’s principal strengths?) (Maximum word count: 500 words)

3. Describe the most important piece of constructive feedback you have given the applicant. Please detail the circumstances and the applicant’s response. (Maximum word count: 500 words)

4. Is there anything else we should know? (Optional)

If you would like to include a letter of recommendation in addition to your responses above, you may upload the letter here.