Posted on August 18, 2016

The Common Letter of Recommendation

In order to simplify the letter of recommendation writing process, a few top schools with the cooperation of GMAC, have released the new common letter of recommendation.

The Common LOR will provide a single set of questions for recommenders whose answers will be sent to participating schools. It will help ease the burden of recommenders because they will not have to write multiple letters for multiple schools for multiple students. The applicants will also benefit because they will now be more comfortable requesting letters from their busy mentors, professors, or employers.

Participating schools (per the Ross admissions blog)  include Michigan Ross, Cornell Johnson, NYU Stern, and Stanford GSB. Other schools are expected to join these in the coming year. Isser Gallogly, Assistant Dean of MBA Admissions at NYU Stern School of Business, clarified that this year NYU Stern is using the open-ended questions from the Common LOR, but not the form in its entirety

According to the GMAT web site, “The goal of the Common Letter of Recommendation (LOR) is to save you valuable time by providing a single common set of questions. The questions are part of each participating school’s existing application system. This approach allows you to use the same answers for multiple letter submissions, alleviating the need to answer dozens of additional questions for different schools.”

The form asks recommenders to rate applicants on "16 competencies and character traits” that are important to leadership and management.

1. Achievement

• Initiative
• Results Orientation
• Communication
• Influence and Collaboration
• Professional Impression, Poise, and Presence

2. Influence

• Respect for Others
• Team Leadership
• Developing Others
• Change Leadership

3. Personal Qualities

• Trustworthiness/Integrity
• Adaptability/Resilience
• Self-awareness

4. Cognitive Abilities

• Information Seeking
• Analytical Thinking
• Problem Solving
• Strategic Orientation

In addition, recommenders are asked to respond to the following three questions:

  • Please provide a brief description of your interaction with the applicant and, if applicable, the applicant’s role in your organization. (50 words)
  • How does the performance of the applicant compare to that of other well-qualified individuals in similar roles? (e.g. what are the applicant’s principal strengths?) (500 words)
  • Describe the most important piece of constructive feedback you have given the applicant. Please detail the circumstances and the applicant’s response. (500 words)

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