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What London Business School Looks for in MBA Applicants

London Business School is regarded as the best two-year MBA program in Europe.

By understanding what they look for in MBA applicants, you can figure out whether the program is a good fit for you, and how to maximize your chances of admission.

In the following video, David White, Founding Partner at Menlo Coaching, discusses insights about the LBS admissions process.


International MBA Candidates for an International Campus

LBS is a truly international campus with an incredibly diverse MBA class. For reference, the top US programs are about ⅓ international applicants and ⅔ American applicants.

At LBS, a mere 8% of its applicants are UK-based. The remaining 92% come from everywhere else. Also in contrast to top American schools, that “everywhere else” includes a much broader swath of the world.

People who are from nations that are typically underrepresented at American business schools—Russia, the CIS, Africa, and smaller nations within Asia—all come to London Business School.

All of this means that London Business School is excited to see applicants that have an international background. They want applicants who have experience living and working outside of their home countries or, at least, working with colleagues, clients, and business partners from a wide variety of locales.

Thinking about the international diversity of your business life is a good first step to figuring out if you are a good candidate for LBS.

A Potential For Long-Term Leadership

London Business School is interested in seeing MBA candidates that are likely to excel in long-term leadership positions. As a result, there are a couple of things that are distinctive about their recommendation process and the school’s curriculum.

Recommendation Questions

The majority of schools focus on two topics in their letter of recommendation prompts: what are the applicant’s strengths and what are the applicant’s weaknesses.

At LBS, recommenders are asked “where do you see the candidate in 5-10 years time? What do you think they will be doing then?” This forces recommenders to have solid answers to those questions.

Curriculum at LBS

The Leadership Launch program takes up a huge part of the first year curriculum. While all MBA programs teach leadership, there is an intensity at LBS that focuses on developing you as a leader.

Making sure you have pertinent leadership skills, and have demonstrated those to your recommenders, are key.

Are You a Good Fit for LBS?

London Business School is especially punctilious in ensuring that candidates are a good fit for their MBA program in a variety of ways. Here are some things to do and avoid when researching LBS.

Don’t Bring Up INSEAD

Many American applicants are used to researching the top schools and trying to decipher the tiny differences between them that will make one more appealing or prestigious than the other.

In the case of European schools, it is no secret that INSEAD and LBS are the top two. However, they are so dissimilar that very few applicants would be a great fit for both.

David Simpson, the LBS Admissions Director, expressed annoyance at candidates asking what the difference between the two programs is or being told that an applicant was weighing the two as top choices.

Here is the most basic and fundamental difference between the two: INSEAD is a one year program and LBS is a two year program. The differences between those two categories, alone, is massive, not least of all because it determines whether you have time to secure a traditional MBA internship.

There is no way to be agnostic about the difference between one-year and two-year programs and you should avoid indicating that you are.

Don’t Overstress About the GMAT

Because London Business School is the undisputed top, two-year program in Europe, they don’t have the same kinds of admissions processes that American schools have.

As a result, they want a score that indicates you can handle their coursework, but they are not usually looking for an insanely high GMAT score in order to decide between you and other equally-qualified applicants.

They have the luxury of figuring out if you are a solid candidate by other metrics. That means that you have the luxury of being satisfied with a GMAT score that is very strong, but not necessarily at the hyper-competitive levels that some American schools demand.

Do Make Sure You Are Applying for the Right Reasons

As with other schools, during the application process, you will be asked what you can get from this particular school that you can’t get elsewhere.

In part, this is a way for London Business School to screen out applicants whose reasons are less serious than others. Especially for many American applicants, their interest in LBS might be based on a desire to live abroad and recapture the glories of a semester in the UK. This is a terrible reason to study at LBS.

If you are a good candidate for LBS, you likely want to study there because you either want to work in Europe or you plan on regularly interacting, through your business, with people from some of the represented nationalities in the class.

That may sound silly to say aloud, but you are going to stand out against those applicants who want to study internationally, only to work domestically afterwards.

Do Use The Application Space Wisely

London Business School gives you a 300-word prompt to explain what your family and friends think about your decision to apply to the school. This works for LBS on two levels.

First, it allows for a meaningful narrative to emerge that can be to your advantage in the application process.

Secondly, they force you to ask your friends and family what they think, which leads you to consider your own motivations more deeply. Then they give you a second 300-word essay to talk about the LBS students, staff, and alumni you’ve met and to describe your interactions with them.

You will have other essays in which you can discuss how LBS can advance your career and cater to your educational needs, so these two essays are essential places to deeply consider the prompts.

So take the time to respond to the idea of what people in your life think of your going to LBS and what you think of the people already involved with it.

About Menlo Coaching: Just like London Business School, Menlo Coaching is based in Europe, and is highly experienced in European MBA programs as well as US programs.

Our team of expert MBA admissions consultants helps you push for more, find your voice, and tell your story in the most compelling way possible. We help current-year and future-year applicants to top MBA programs. Start your journey to MBA acceptance at Menlo Coaching.

This article is part of CrystalConnect, an outreach initiative by MBA Crystal Ball.

Also read:
What Dartmouth Tuck looks for in MBA applicants
Family Business Applicant MBA Tips
Tell Me About Yourself: Common MBA Interview Questions
INSEAD vs London Business School (LBS) MBA

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3 thoughts on “What London Business School Looks for in MBA Applicants”

    • Hi Sangeeta,

      We’ve been in business since 2012 and have coached numerous Indian applicants, both applicants living in India and ones living abroad in the UK and US. We serve clients globally from our offices in Amsterdam, NL.



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