What You Think Is Important...Isn't

Posted by: Louis Lavelle on May 14, 2008

That’s the upshot of some new research by Gregg Schoenfeld.

Schoenfeld surveyed graduate b-school students and the recruiters who love them (or hire them at least) trying to determine what each group viewed as the most important attributes when it came to the annual mating dance known as recruiting. What he found was really interesting: apparently MBA students are from Mars and recruiters are from Venus.

In some areas, there was widespread agreement. Both students and recruiters believe interpersonal skills are highly important, while your concentration is kinda meaningless. In fact, leadership abilities, a proven ability to perform, and a good cultural fit with the company are all important to students and recruiters alike. And your years of work experience and “cultural experience” don’t count for much with either group. But that’s where the agreement ends.

A lot of things that are downplayed by students--academic success, general management skills, technical/quant skills--are actually quite important to recruiters. And a lot of things that students think are really important to recruiters--your pre b-school occupation and the prestige of the b-school itself--don't mean a whole heckuva lot at all.

Does anybody else find this disconnect as interesting as I do? It's almost as if somebody did a survey and found that women don't care for men with broad shoulders and a chiseled jaw line. The bit about recruiters not caring about the b-school's prestige will probably come as a big surprise to the students who pay a fortune for the most prestigious schools, and the schools themselves. If anyone has a theory on why this is, please share.

Reader Comments


May 15, 2008 8:57 AM

Doubt this survey. Can you state the figures?

The school is name and rep is definitely important where I am from. Apart from that, if recruiters really dont care about the school's prestige, how come graduates from top schools earn more and have it easier getting a job?

One explanation would be, assuming recruiters really dont care about the prestige of the school itself, that top schools really prepare their graduates better for their post-MBA jobs.


May 15, 2008 9:24 AM

I kind of agree with you Basti--it seems kind of crazy to me, and for just the reason you state. If recruiters really don't give a hoot about top schools, why do they spend so much time recruiting there, and why are they willing to pay more for the privilege? Your explanation--that the top schools do a better job of preparing students for their post-MBA jobs--seems logical enough. I'd be curious to know what everyone else thinks.


May 20, 2008 7:22 AM

Survey has been done on recruiters & students after they interviewed. School brand can still play an important role at obtaining the interview. However once you interview, it looks like brand name does not play a big role. This is pretty logic, as I don't think recruiters have time to loose interviewing people they do not expect to hire.


May 20, 2008 10:55 AM

Two points:

1. Political correctness results in lack of "truthiness" (see S. Colbert) in recruiters' responses.

2. "Concentration is meaningless" - If that's the case, then why do employment ads from companies specify the requirement for MBA to be in a particular area, i.e. Quantitative Finance, Economics, Strategy, etc.

Overall, I would seriously doubt validity of the findings of this survey.

This survey reminds me of "Seinfield" - the show about "nothing".

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