Future MBAs May Soon Need To Prove They’ve Got Emotional IQ

Flickr/cseemanMBA applicants at top programs are expected to have a sterling college record, and usually several years of top notch work experience.

The pedigrees of some of the top students currently at Harvard Business School include stints at Google, Goldman Sachs, and a $100 million plus startup sale.

Now, following a trend in the business world of looking beyond college grades and GPA, business schools are testing for emotional intelligence quotient — that students have traits like empathy and resilience that are correlated with future success. 

Since the financial crisis, a strong moral compass and an ability to work with teams have taken on added importance for employers. Self interest plays into it as well. Schools are ranked based on how well their students do after graduation, and they have little time to change ingrained personality habits. So its to their advantage to weed out those with anti-social tendencies, or at least figure out what leads to success to improve in the future.

Since there’s not always an obvious “correct” answer for these sorts of questions, it can be harder to fake certain qualities than it is in say, an interview. 

As businesses are realising that a top college and great grades don’t always dovetail with success, so are the schools that cater to them. Andrew Sama, a senior admissions officer at Notre Dame’s Mendoza School of Business told The Wall Street Journal that “companies select for top talent with assessments like this. ‘If we are selecting for future business leaders, why shouldn’t we be [using] similar tools?'”

Students applying to Mendoza take a 206 question test designed to find characteristics that successful students have exhibited in the past. Depending on their answers, students are recommended or not, though the school may admit or reject people in either category.

Beyond Notre Dame, Yale is rolling out a test for volunteers in its current applicant class, though it won’t weigh into admissions decisions, and Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business modified its recommendation form to ask more questions dealing with things like coping under pressure and intellectual curiosity.

The company that creates the GMAT, the admissions test used by business schools, has created a test to measure “soft skills” and is marketing it to business schools.  

As the ability to measure emotional intelligence improves, and more employers emphasise it, other schools might jump on board.