We’ve been focusing on values this MBA admissions season because it’s the term du jour for bschools everywhere. Though it’s not exactly new. But it is gaining greater prominence.
More evidence: The Behavioral Assessment is a “no right answers” type of personality or characteristics survey that you’ll complete if you get to the interview stage at Yale SOM.
From Yale’s FAQ :
The Behavioral Assessment is an online admissions tool administered by the research division of ETS, which measures a set of interpersonal and intrapersonal competencies associated with business school success. It is a forced-choice module that takes about 20-25 minutes to complete, and should be completed in a single sitting. Applicants do not need to do anything in advance to prepare for the assessment, nor does it require any specialized knowledge, background, or information to complete.
So far Yale is the only bschool that’s implemented this and it’s unclear to us if they will remain the only school, because they’re the ones driving its development with ETS in the first place. We’ll need to see if their partnership allows for other schools to hop on board (presumably it does, and this will see greater adoption over time).
What Yale is trying to do is add a new dimension to their application. They dislike getting burned by an applicant who’s got a great test score and looks good on paper, but then shows up at SOM and fails to engage or even does poorly in the classroom. Or conversely, and even more of a shame, they don’t want to overlook the applicant who isn’t that strong when it comes to the standards of test scores and grades, yet who is the “SOM type” and who would add value there. These are all those components that cannot be as easily gleaned from the paper components of the app and they cannot even be always sussed out in an interview.
The developers of the Behavioral Assessment were committed to ensuring it was not — in their words — “gameable” — meaning, it’s been designed such that there are no obvious right answers or preferred ways to respond. It’s not like you’ll be doing math or correcting grammar in funky sentences or writing another essay. Instead, it’s more similar to something like the Myers-Briggs or MMPI where your answers will give insight into who you are as a person. In other words, your values.
That’s why there’s no right or wrong answers. It’s kind of like evaluating if you’re an extrovert or an introvert. In the heavy extrovert-applauding American culture, it may seem like being an extrovert is better. But it’s not. They’re just two different styles, and anyway, every single person has both intro- and extro- qualities. We’re all on a spectrum.
That’s the type of stuff that the Behavioral Assessment will be looking at.
A simple example is for you to choose between these paired statements which one you resonate with more closely:
You may sit there going, “Dang. Both are true.”
And likely, for most people, that’s the case.
But you’re forced to pick one. Which is it? Neither is wrong; you certainly cannot be faulted for either response.
That means, go with what is more true.
When Yale SOM says that they care about culture, well, going to the effort of developing this particular Behavioral Assessment to better understand its candidates is proof. All schools that care about culture are investing in different initiatives to embed their values into their processes and making those values visible in the community.
These are the types of things you should be on the lookout for as you understand which schools are a fit for the things you believe in.