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Stanford MBA Recommendation Questions

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The Stanford MBA recommendation questions for Stanford GSB Class of 2027 are now available.  Two letters of reference are required. One should be from a current direct supervisor (or next best alternative), and one from someone else who has supervised your work. Notify your recommenders which type of letter of reference they will be completing and in which round you will be applying. If you are not submitting a letter from your current direct supervisor, the application asks for a primary reason which you can select from a drop-down menu or explain under “other.”  The Stanford MBA recommendation uses the common GMAC format.

2024-2025 Stanford MBA Recommendation Questions 

Recommender Information:

How long have you known the applicant?

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

You have been registered by the applicant as providing this type of Letter of Reference (Current Direct Supervisor; Other).

Are/were you the applicant’s direct supervisor?

Please comment briefly on the context of your interaction with the applicant. If applicable, describe the applicant’s role in your organization.(Limit 320 characters.) 

If you are a Stanford GSB Alumna/Alumnus, please enter your degree class year.

How many candidates are you recommending to Stanford GSB this year?

stanford mba recommendation

Leadership Assessment:

Listed below you will find a number of competencies that contribute to successful leadership. Within each category, please mark the one button corresponding to the behavior that the candidate most typically exhibits. We acknowledge that all candidates have both areas of strength and areas of development. If you select the highest rating, please provide specific examples in your letter.


  • No basis for judgment
  • 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

Results Orientation

  • No basis for judgment
  • 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

Communication, Professional Impression & Poise

Influence and Collaboration

  • No basis for judgment
  • 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

Respect for Others

  • No basis for judgment
  • Unwilling to acknowledge others’ points of view
  • Open to considering others’ 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 others’ 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

Team Leadership

  • No basis for judgment
  • 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

Developing Others

  • No basis for judgment
  • Focuses only on own growth; critical of others’ 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

Trustworthiness/ Integrity

  • No basis for judgment
  • 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 judgment
  • 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 calm in unfamiliar situations until confronted with obstacle
  • 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; 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

  • No basis for judgment
  • 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

Problem Solving

  • No basis for judgment
  • 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

Strategic Orientation

  • No basis for judgment
  • 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

Please feel free to comment if you need to clarify the ratings you have assigned. (Limit 500 characters).

Based on your professional experience, how would you rate this candidate compared to their peer group?

  • 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 candidate to Stanford
  • Recommend this candidate to Stanford, with reservations
  • Recommend this candidate to Stanford

Stanford MBA Recommendation Questions:

  1. 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?) – Up to 500 words
  2. Describe the most important piece of constructive feedback you have given the applicant. Please detail the circumstances and the applicant’s response. – Up to 500 words
  3. (Optional) Is there anything else we should know?

Recommenders are asked to please write answers to the Stanford MBA recommendation questions in a separate document and upload that document into the online application. The most useful recommendations provide detailed descriptions, candid anecdotes, and specific evidence that highlight the candidate’s behavior and impact on those around her or him.