Identifying your weaknesses can be a strength in your b-school application!

By: Dana

The most difficult question asked by an Admissions Committee when applying for graduate study is probably, “what are your areas of weakness?”  You spend your entire application- resume, essay, interview attempting to sell yourself on your strengths, that answering this questions can often times feel like 2 steps backward in the process.  Why would anyone want to reveal their areas of weakness to the Admissions Committee?  The answer is what many Admissions Committees and applicants find themselves searching for in the application process, and that is, FIT.

As an Admissions Representative, I can tell you that I have interviewed many candidates who have perfected the art of illustrating how their weakness is also their strength.  I can honestly tell you that some of the most refreshing and enlightening conversations I have had were those in which the candidate has highlighted their areas of potential growth (weaknesses), and how those areas will be improved upon by completing graduate study.  There is no shame in admitting the areas that you need to improve; after all, if you had no areas of improvement, you would probably already be a CEO, correct?

That being said, keep in mind that the admissions application and interview process is very similar to the application and interview selection for any professional job.  Therefore your weaknesses and areas for personal growth should be relevant to business, career growth and academic preparation in the classroom.  While we encourage honesty, we also want to see professionalism.  Avoid the blame game, or finger pointing in why you may be lacking in certain areas.  Instead, concentrate on the future and what you plan to do to lessen your short comings and head for success in your MBA and MS study.

While your leadership skills, work experience, communication and academics will certainly help to set you apart from the applicant pool, your weaknesses may in fact do the same, and not always in a negative way.  For instance, a sound understanding of why you are pursuing graduate study, and how specifically the school to which you are applying will help you to develop your weaknesses to achieve your short and long term career aspirations is in fact a way to strengthen an application.  Being honest with yourself in determining your shortcomings will not only help you identify what you need from your graduate experience, but it will also help the Admissions Committee to better understand your reasoning for wanting a business degree and how their program offerings and support on campus will benefit you.

Rather than hiding behind your weaknesses, use them to your advantage.  Provide your interviewer, and yourself, an honest understanding of why business school makes sense for you.  This consideration and level of clarity will serve as a strength on its own and will make the process of finding the right “fit” a lot easier for you, and your prospective schools.


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