Letter of recommendations: how important are they for business school admission

The golden rule with the recommendation is: “that a good recommendation WILL NOT get you in but a bad recommendation will DEFINITELY KEEP YOU OUT”

The above statement is true 99% of the time. However, if the Finance Minister of India CALLS up the adcom and recommends you, then it is likely that THAT recommendation will get you in!

Keeping exceptions aside, the business school adcoms looks for three factors in a good recommendation:


  1. Logical consistency: For eg. if you say that you work as a Project Manager at Infosys, however, if your recommender says that you work as a Technical Analyst. Now, this is a serious discrepancy, and it is likely that your application would be dinged because of this
  • Make sure that you share relevant facts with your recommender before you ask him/her to write a recommendation.


  1. If the question has been answered: Now see, most of the recommendation questions for a business school read something like this: “What is the most important constructive piece of criticism that you given to the applicant. Detail the circumstances.”
  • Here, your recommender needs to answer the question by giving 1 example. We are amazed by how many recommender start sharing ALL the advice they have given the applicant throughout the course of their career.
  • Therefore, ensure that your recommender answers the question that is being asked. Additionally, make sure that ALL THE PARTS of the questions are being answered. For example, in the above question make sure that the “circumstances” part is also answered.

3. Give examples: For eg. if the question requires the recommender to state applicants strength or weakness, then just stating the strength/weakness would not suffice. For eg. it is not sufficient to just say that “Paul is very determined”. The recommender needs to give a relevant example to backup this claim.