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Rice / Jones MBA Recommendation Questions

The Jones School of Business at Rice University MBA application uses the Common Letter of Recommendation from GMAC. Applicants to the Rice MBA program are required to collect two professional recommendations. However, you only need to submit one recommendation if it is from your current direct supervisor.

2023-2024 Rice MBA Recommendation Questions

Section 1: Recommender Information

Context of Relationship:

  • Current employer
  • Previous employer
  • University / Academic
  • Extracurricular / 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

During which period of time have you had the most frequent contact with the applicant?
  • Rice University Faculty
  • Jones Graduate School of Business Graduate
  • Rice University Graduate
  • Rice University Staff
  • Not Affiliated
  • Other

rice mba recommendation

Section 2

In this section, you will find 16 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 development. Your candid and honest appraisal will assist in evaluation of the applicant.  Please assume that each level builds upon behaviors of the previous level.


1. Initiative: Acts ahead of need/anticipates problems

  • Seeks out new work challenges; tackles problems head-on and works to resolve them without delay
  • Proactively puts in extra effort to accomplish critical or difficult tasks, and persists in the face of obstacles
  • Actively seeks high-impact and high-visibility projects and steps up to challenge even when things are not going well; frequently takes actions that grow the team or organization

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

  • Fulfills assigned tasks
  • Takes specific, tailored actions to overcome obstacles to achieve goals; plans for contingencies
  • Acts to exceed goals and raise effectiveness of organization
  • Introduces incremental improvements to enhance business performance using robust analysis; sets continually higher goals for self and team
  • Invents new approaches and works to meet or exceed best-in-class standards and levels of performance


3. Communication: Delivers messages and ideas in a way that they can be easily heard and accepted and can engage an audience; uses listening and other attending behaviors to create a shared understanding of topic

  • Gets point across; responds to explicit concerns when asked
  • Stays on topic; reframes statements when necessary to make them clearer; organizes content so that it is easily understood; takes time to listen
  • Present views clearly and structures content to present views in a way that is logical and easily followed by a broad audience; acknowledges audience feedback
  • Explicitly structures content to engage specific audience segments; uses tailored language and examples that appeal to specific groups; asks pertinent questions; restates or paraphrases what others have said to check for understanding
  • Structures content for senior-level meetings and presentations and maintains composure when challenged; solicits opinions and concerns and incorporates them “in the moment;” discusses them openly and adjusts communication

4. Influence and Collaboration: Engages and works with people over whom one has no direct control

  • Accepts input from others
  • Uses tailored approaches to influence, create and leverage a network of strategically chosen individuals; builds enduring partnerships to significantly improve outcomes, even at some personal cost

5. Professional Impression, Poise and Presence: Maintains self-control and positive external response even in time of crisis or conflict; manages impression made on other

  • No basis for judgment
  • Speaks politely, demonstrates generally accepted manners; expresses desire to make a positive impression
    Remains measured in a variety of situations; works to manage impression and prepares for situations to appear confident
  • When emotions are aroused, actively restrains from expressing them; leaves a positive and professional impression; responds confidently to situation or circumstance
  • Channels strong emotion into positive action; comes across as confident and strong, responds rapidly and strongly to crisis
  • When in strong conflict, restrains emotional response (grace under pressure); takes positive action to respond and engage with all stakeholders; has strong presence (‘gravitas’) and charisma; mobilizes followership to take action in times of crisis


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

  • No basis for judgment
  • Open to others’ views when challenged
  • Treats others and their opinions with respect when offered; shares praise and credit
  • Invites input from others because of expressed respect for them and their views; expresses respect as a means to invite such input
  • Praises people publicly for their good actions; ensures that others’ ideas and opinions are heard before their own
  • Uses understanding of others and self to resolve conflicts and foster mutual respect; reinforces respect among teams and individuals by publicly praising them when they invite input from others and use it

7. Team Leadership: Manages and empowers a team of formal or informal direct reports, including virtual teams

  • No basis for judgment
  • Assigns tasks to team members; checks when they are done
  • Assigns tasks to team members and explains purpose; checks into work while in progress as well as results
  • Solicits ideas and perspectives from the team; 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

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

  • No basis for judgment
  • Encourages people to develop themselves; praises them for improvements
  • Points out mistakes to help people correct deficiencies
  • Provides specific examples and gives positive and negative behavioral feedback to support development
  • Provides practical guiding principles and recommendations to direct or focus efforts on specific areas of development
  • Inspires and motivates others to develop by providing feedback and identifying growth opportunities; identifies on-the-job opportunities that foster other’s development

9. Change Leadership: Energizes and aligns groups of people to participate in organizational change

  • No basis for judgment
  • Encourages people to go along with change
  • Challenges status quo and identifies what needs to change
  • Defines positive direction for change and persuades others to support it by providing compelling reasons and vision
  • Mobilizes individuals to change behavior by using a range of tailored appeals to motives
  • Builds coalition of supporters and coordinates change across multiple individuals; creates champions who will mobilize others to change

Personal Qualities

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

  • No basis for judgment
  • Articulates intentions and values or beliefs when asked
  • Acts spontaneously and 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 put self at risk (e.g. supervisor conflict); demonstrates the values of the team or organization publicly despite personal risk
  • Reinforces behaviors and holds people accountable to the organizational values, even at cost to self, team, or organization

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

  • No basis for judgment
  • Prefers existing methods and procedures but adapts when required to do so; persists until confronted with obstacle
  • Adapts to new methods and procedures; takes efforts to overcome obstacle or failure
  • Champions adoption of new initiatives and processes; redoubles efforts to overcome obstacle or failure
  • Seeks out disruptions as an opportunity for improvement; remains calm and optimistic in difficult situations that may result in failure
  • Energized by projects with high degree of uncertainties or risks but great potential benefit; seeks to be the first into unknown or unfamiliar situations; excited by failure that points to clear direction to develop for future success

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

  • No basis for judgment
  • Acknowledges fault or performance problem when confronted with concrete example or data
  • Acknowledges weakness and responds positively to performance feedback to improve; learns from past experiences and works diligently so that mistakes are not repeated
  • Describes own key strengths and weaknesses accurately and with evidence; welcomes or invites feedback from others to improve and discusses opportunities to change with select individuals
  • Seeks out select people to provide explicit feedback to address desired improvement areas or build strengths; discusses weaknesses openly; explores reasons for problems, including own faults, without taking feedback personally
  • Has an accurate and comprehensive self-assessment; seeks out challenging and potentially embarrassing or risky improvement opportunities; identifies and engages with resources–people, processes, or content– to maximize strengths or mitigate weaknesses


13. Information Seeking: Probes deeply into issues and seeks out facts and evidence needed to inform decisions

  • No basis for judgment
  • Asks direct questions about current problem with immediately available individuals
  • Investigates problems by going directly to sources of information
  • Asks a series of probing questions to get to the root of a situation or a problem
  • Does research by making a systematic effort over a limited period of time to obtain needed data or feedback
  • Involves others who would not normally be involved including experts or outside organizations; gets them to seek out information

14. Analytical Thinking: Reasons from causes to effects, through multiple steps as needed

  • No basis for judgment
  • Sorts information by using lists or categories
  • Sees obvious implications; maps single causes to single effects
  • Organizes and classifies complex or large sets of data; sees multiple and/or subtle implications, maps multiple causes to single effect, and single cause to multiple effects
  • Follows complex lines of reasoning with multiple causes and effects; extracts relevant data to test assumptions and identifies likely causes/implications
  • Undertakes complex tasks and applies accurate logic to break them down into manageable parts in a systematic way; maps complex causes and effects systems and draws logical and objective conclusions from data, information and analyses conducted

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

  • No basis for judgment
  • Focuses on immediate, short- term implications; when faced with problems, chooses an obvious path
  • Prefers problem-solving within comfort zone; tends to offer solutions and make recommendations only when the chance of failure is low
  • Identifies and focuses on the critical information needed to understand a problem and comes up with several reasonable solutions to the problem
  • Integrates perspectives from a variety of sources to arrive at optimal and unexpected yet practical solutions
  • Solves tough and interconnected problems by drawing on one’s own knowledge and experience base and calling on other references as necessary; is sought after for input and advice when others make difficult or vital decisions

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

  • No basis for judgment
  • Understands current implications of work or analysis
  • Identifies opportunities for improvement within area of responsibility
  • Develops insights or recommendations within one’s own area of responsibility with clear impact on near-term business performance
  • Develops insights or recommendations within one’s own area of responsibility that will have impact on long-term business performance
  • Develops insights or recommendations with explicit intended impact on long-term business performance beyond one’s own area of responsibility

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

Based on your professional experience, how do you rate this candidate 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

Section 3:

Please answer the following questions and provide specific examples where possible.
Please provide a brief description of your interaction with the applicant and, if applicable, the applicant’s role in your organization. (Recommended word count: 50 words)
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?) (Recommended word count: 500 words)
 Is there anything else we should know? (Optional)