What To Look For When Hiring Expensive New MBA Grads

An MBA degree used to be a sign of excellence for potential employers. More recently, though, the numbers of people graduating with MBAs have been on a sharp rise. The number of MBAs given out in 2012 was 74% more than in 2001, and they now make up almost 20% of all master’s degrees awarded.

This makes it much harder to find the real gems among the graduating crop. How can you differentiate between graduates that are not necessarily equally skilled?

Many MBA programs require, or strongly encourage, students to have prior business experience, such as the Wharton MBA program at the University of Pennsylvania; others are less strict. A candidate’s prior business experience might be a better guide of what they can do for you than his or her scores on a degree, but as with the regular hiring process, experience has been proven (much like resumes and interviews) to be rather ineffective in gauging job performance.

So how can you tell who you should hire? Here are some tips for what to look out for when reviewing new MBA graduates:

Expectations and Attitude

While many MBA graduates will have reasonable expectations for salary and responsibilities in line with their experience, some may have the wrong kind of attitude for your company.

Business professor, Dipak Jain, has suggested that many employers are “complain[ing] about 30-year-old newly minted M.B.A.s demanding outrageous salaries and expecting to run the company from day one” .

Ensure that you understand the candidate’s expectations during the interview process. Do his or her future goals and expectations match your company’s promotion and salary structures?

One way to ensure you are finding candidates who will be the ‘right fit’ is to use psychometric screening assessments, prior to reviewing resumes. Many companies are seeking skills such as creativity, fundraising, marketing, entrepreneurship, and endless flexibility to respond to an ever-changing world, which can be determined through testing. Establishing a benchmark across all of your candidates will allow you to shortlist and select only those who are right for both your company culture and job performance needs.

Networking Experience

Traditionally, an MBA was one of the best ways to network. The program got you access to the top professors at business schools and gave graduates ‘a key to the club’ to network with other professionals.

Networking is no longer the same. Today, a lot of networking is done through online channels, and it’s increasingly crucial to have networks across a range of sectors, in order to spot new opportunities and possibilities for interconnection

MBAs may have the skills to deal with this new world of networking, but don’t assume that they will automatically be able to cope with it just because they’re an MBA. Reviewing profiles, such as LinkedIn and Twitter, to determine how well connected applicants are, is a good way to determine networking hustle.

Relevant Skill Sets

Depending on what your business is and how it is run, the skills taught in MBA courses might be more or less relevant to you.

Jay Bhatti, an investor and advisor to startups, argues that MBAs were originally designed to make graduates into good employees of large corporations, and that different skills are needed today to train people to work for startups and smaller companies.

If you need the ‘less traditional’ business skills in your team, it might be worth checking the syllabus of your MBA graduates, and seeing if their courses actually addressed these issues.

Leadership Ability

The most desired quality that hiring managers were looking for in 2012 was leadership; 51% of hiring managers said this was a key quality.

MBA programs may teach graduates core business skills, but will not necessarily take them to the next level of developing their leadership skills. Even if you’re not putting them in a leadership role immediately, a graduate with those skills will be of more benefit to your company than one without.

Looking for students who have completed MBAs with an emphasis on leadership skills may be beneficial, one ranking of such programs can be found here.

Hiring in itself can be tricky to manoeuvre, let alone hiring those new to a field of work. However, with the right mindset and the proper selection tools, hiring recent graduates can be cost effective, time efficient, and invaluable to your company’s future success.


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