At the McCombs School of Business, we are proud to have an active and diverse student community. What do you consider to be your personal strengths and how have you leveraged them in the past to enrich your work and non-work communities?- McCombs

“We are a community designed for curiosity and lifelong pursuit of personal and intellectual growth. This is not a place for those who feel they have learned all they need to learn.”- Haas

“Give a candid description of yourself (who you are as a person), stressing the personal characteristics you feel to be your strengths and weaknesses and the main factors that have influenced your personal development, giving examples when necessary.” – INSEAD

“Describe the achievement of which you are most proud and explain why. In addition, describe a situation where you failed. How did these experiences impact your relationships with others? Comment on what you learned. ”-INSEAD

Addressing Weakness Question

A weakness essay is the Admissions committee’s biggest tool for identifying whether the applicant has the capability to self-reflect on one’s own actions and unintended character traits they suffer. The schools want to learn what actions has the applicant taken, with sufficient awareness and effort to correct the eccentricity so that it does not impact the applicant’s ecosystem.

The key to addressing the question is to go beyond vague, unimaginative weaknesses such as “lack of business knowledge”, “impatience”, “workaholism” and so on. Such weaknesses can be inferred as “lack of self-awareness”, “personality disorder”, and “one-dimensional personality”. 

Good examples of weaknesses are subtle eccentricities that, if molded with will and positive reinforcement can help the applicant become a better manager at what he/she currently does.

For example, suppose an applicant is aware of how in his haste to complete a project and deliver an outcome, he has obliviously, on occasion, overlooked certain necessary checks and approvals. He would acknowledge how his oversight impacted his stakeholders and the outcome, leading him to introspect and course correct his approach by being extra cautious about aligning all pieces of the project to achieve the desired outcome. The applicant should also add vivid details about the scale of the impact (first negative and eventually positive) to bring credibility to the story. An example of an evolving person, working on one’s flaws deepens Adcom’s trust in the applicant’s capabilities.

Addressing the Strengths Question

The strengths question provides you an additional opportunity to share your experiences which will help the committee get a better understanding of you. Do you comprehend your personality with maturity? These provide you the chance to establish trust by being straightforward. Adcom will be more ready to believe your favorable statements if you are honest.

The traits you highlight must complement those identified by your recommenders and described in your application’s narrative. If you do your homework and properly research each business school, you be aware about the school’s distinctive unique culture and values (INSEAD’s communication and global outlook, Haas’s innovation, Sloan’s technology, innovation and business). While leadership, collaboration, analytic prowess, and communication abilities are valued by all business schools, your narrative will blend your true self with the “must have” qualities needed for respective business schools.

“Describe a time when you have led a team in a professional environment to implement a new idea or process. What leadership characteristics did you utilize? What could you have done to be more effective? And most importantly, what skills will you be able to bring to the teams you lead at McDonough?”– Georgetown

For schools like McDonough that just want one example, find a story or work project that will clearly highlight all of your skills and weaknesses. It is quite challenging to be creative when discussing traits that you presumably share in common with most individuals. Remember that in this essay, your originality will come from the specific combination of qualities you describe and the examples you choose to show this combination of strengths.

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