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Georgetown / McDonough MBA Recommendation Questions

The MBA program application for the McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University requires a single professional recommendation, preferably from a current direct supervisor who can speak to the applicant’s professional performance as well as managerial and leadership potential. Letters from university faculty, family members, and additional letters of recommendation are discouraged.

The Georgetown MBA recommendation uses the Common Letter of Recommendation from GMAC.

2023-2024 Georgetown McDonough Recommendation Questions

Recommender’s Information

How long have you known the applicant?

Relationship to Student?

If you are affiliated with Georgetown University or the McDonough School of Business, please select the option that most closely matches.

  • Faculty
  • McDonough Business School Graduate
  • Georgetown Graduate
  • Staff
  • Other
  • Not affiliated

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.


Acts ahead of need/anticipates problems

  • Reluctant to take on new tasks, waits to be told what to do, defers to others
  • Willing to step in and take charge when required to do so
  • Takes charge spontaneously when problem needs attention
  • Volunteers for new work challenges. Proactively puts in extra effort to accomplish critical or difficult tasks
  • Proactively seeks high-impact projects. Steps up to challenges even when things are not going well
  • No basis for judgment

Focuses on and drives toward delivering on goals, objectives, and performance improvement

  • Focuses on fulfilling activities at hand. Unsure how work relates to goals
  • Takes actions to overcome obstacles to achieve goals
  • Independently acts to exceed goals and plans for contingencies
  • Documents activities and outcomes to learn from past. Introduces incremental improvements to raise the effectiveness of team
  • Invents new approaches with measurably better results. Works to deliver best-in-class performance improvements
  • No basis for judgment


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

  • Struggles to get point across; neglects to understand audience input or perspective; lacks confidence and gets flustered under pressure
  • Works to get point across; acknowledges feedback; reframes statements when necessary to make them clearer; speaks politely; remains composed in known circumstances
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • No basis for judgement

Engages and works with people outside of one’s direct control

  • Does not seek input and perspective of others
  • Accepts input from others and engages them in problem solving
  • Seeks first to understand perspectives of others; takes actions to gain their support for ideas and initiatives
  • Uses tailored approaches to connect with others, influence, and achieve results
  • Uses tailored influence approaches to create and leverage a network of strategically chosen individuals to improve collective outcomes
  • No basis for judgement

georgetown mba recommendation


Acknowledges the value of others’ views and actions

  • Unwilling to acknowledge other points of view
  • Open to considering other views when confronted or offered
  • Invites input from others because of expressed respect for them and their views
  • Praises people publicly for their good actions; ensures that other opinions are heard before their own
  • 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
  • No basis for judgement

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

  • Struggles to delegate effectively (e.g. micromanages); does not organize activities or provide appropriate information to complete tasks
  • Assigns tasks and tells people what to do; checks when they are done
  • Solicits ideas and perspectives from the team; structures activities; holds members accountable
  • Actively engages the team to develop plans and resolve issues through collaboration; shows the impact of individual/team contributions
  • Recruits others into duties or roles based on insight into individual abilities; rewards those who exceed expectations; provides strong organizational support
  • No basis for judgement

Helps people develop their performance and ability over time

  • Focuses only on own growth; critical of other efforts to develop
  • Encourages people to develop; points out mistakes to help people develop and praises them for improvements
  • Gives specific positive and negative behavioral feedback to support the development of others
  • Provides overarching practical guiding principles and recommendations that are applicable in multiple situations to direct or focus efforts on specific areas of development
  • 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
  • No basis for judgement

Personal Qualities

Acts consistently in line with or follows explicit values, beliefs, or intentions

  • Follows the crowd; takes path of least resistance; gives in under pressure
  • Acts consistently with stated intentions, values, or beliefs when it is easy to do so
  • Acts spontaneously and consistently with stated intentions, values, or beliefs despite opposition
  • 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
  • Demonstrates high personal integrity even at personal cost. Holds people accountable to the team or organizational values
  • No basis for judgement

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

  • Prefers existing ways of doing things; fears failure; becomes anxious under challenging situations
  • Adapts to new methods and procedures when required to do so; remains calm in unfamiliar situations until confronted with obstacle
  • Champions adoption of new initiatives and processes; exhibits level-headedness in most environments including challenging ones; persists until obstacle is overcome
  • Seeks out disruptions as an opportunity for improvement; remains optimistic and forward-looking in difficult situations that may result in failure
  • Energized by projects with high uncertainty but potential for high reward
  • No basis for judgement

Aware of and seeks out additional input on own strengths and weaknesses

  • Lacks awareness of how he/she is perceived; denies or offers excuses when confronted
  • Acknowledges fault or performance problem when confronted with concrete example or data
  • Describes own key strengths and weaknesses accurately; welcomes feedback from others and discusses opportunities to change with select individuals
  • Actively seeks out feedback to explicitly address desired improvement areas or build on strengths; explores reasons for problems openly, including own faults
  • Seeks out challenging and potentially risky experiences to improve; identifies and engages with resources—people, processes, or content—to maximize strengths or mitigate weaknesses
  • No basis for judgement

Cognitive Abilities

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

  • Focuses on completing work without understanding implications
  • Understands immediate issues or implications of work or analysis
  • Develops insights or recommendations within area of responsibility that have improved near-term business performance
  • Develops insights or recommendations within area of responsibility that have shaped team/organization strategy and will have impact on long-term business performance
  • Develops insights or recommendations beyond area of responsibility with impact on long-term business strategy and performance
  • No basis for judgment

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

  • Avoids problems; when faced with problems, sticks to what worked before, or chooses an obvious path
  • Offers solutions when the risk is low; focuses on immediate, short-term implications instead of the big picture
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • No basis for judgement

Optional Comments

(Optional, 50 words or less) Is there anything about your rating on which you would like to comment?

Recommendation Questions

  1. Please provide a brief description of your interaction with the applicant and, if applicable, the applicant’s role in your organization. (350 characters or less – including spaces)
  2. How does the applicant’s performance compare to that of other well-qualified individuals in similar roles? Please provide specific examples. (E.g. what are the applicant’s principal strengths?) (1500 characters or less – including spaces)
  3. Describe the most important piece of constructive feedback you have given the applicant. Please detail the circumstances and the applicant’s response. (1500 characters or less – including spaces)

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

  • 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…

  • Do not recommend this applicant
  • Recommend this applicant, with reservations
  • Recommend this applicant
  • Enthusiastically recommend this applicant

Is there anything else we should know? (Optional – 350 characters or less – including spaces)

The recommender is offered the option of uploading a written letter for the Georgetown MBA recommendation.