An Interview with Dr. Kalin Yanev, Candidate Relations Director at Access MBA & Masters Tour.

The Access MBA and Masters Tour founded the One-to-One events concept 10 years ago. The idea is to provide an exclusivematching service to candidates prior to the event as well as on-site to ensure that they have productive interviews withadmissions officers of the schools that correspond best to their profile. The Candidate Relations Department has 10 teammembers providing free daily consultations to registrants for the events. Kalin Yanev, PhD in Psychology and head of theservice shares his thoughts with us on how to achieve a personalised approach towards each candidate.

What does the Access MBA and Masters Candidate Relations team do for the candidates?

The core of our work is in fact consulting. Good consultation is only possible if you know both sides very well. So we study the profile of each candidate on the one hand thoroughly looking at his preferences, and the programme and admissions details of each of the participating schools on the other. For those candidates who register for the events we provide advice as to which of the schools attending it would be most beneficial for them to meet. In other words our team of ten professionals helps them find a “match” with the right schools.

How do you help candidates find the right programme?

We have a personal approach towards each prospective applicant. We review their registration forms and call those who meet the admissions criteria of the attending schools. In this way we can learn more about their personal preferences and help them achieve a more accurate match with one or more schools. Sometimes a candidate might have a specific school in mind, but there might be others which could match them better in terms of curriculum, career opportunities, programme duration, even financially. We propose a particular list of schools but our foremost aim is to elaborate this list together with the candidate.

How much do you know about each school and where do you get the information from?

Before we start the candidate orientation, we interview the schools to get to know their admission requirements and programme features in greater detail. Furthermore, our consultants visit each school at least once a year on campus. In this way, we provide the candidates with first-hand information and are very well aware of the features which differentiate the schools and the programmes they offer.

Which are the most important criteria to select and match a candidate?

All schools have some basic admission requirements. For example, most of them require a completed Bachelor degree, several years of post-graduate work experience, as well as a high level of English knowledge. We use the basic criteria of each school to select a certain number of candidates who cover them. Afterwards we go into greater detail by calling these candidates and reviewing the profile of each one. We identify the programmes which best match the candidates’ aspirations and qualifications based on the kind of experience they have. We take into account their reasons for doing an MBA, the location, format and programme focus they are interested in, as well as what their main decision criteria are, for example, good reputation, the possibility for networking or tuition fees. However, it is important to note that candidates are also selected by the schools in advance. They rate candidates and notify certain pre-selected candidates of their interest. The schools share their opinions with our team before we finally propose a One-to-One meeting to a candidate. Finding the best matching candidates is a long process and there are just a few places available for each programme: 15 on average! For selected candidates it is a real privilege to be invited to a private meeting with the Admissions Directors who take time out from their busy schedules to help them.

How much time do you spend on one candidate? How objective are you in your selection?

We start candidate orientation two weeks before each event. During these weeks we read the candidate’s profile, exchange emails, speak on the phone and we are completely dedicated to every single registrant. On average, we could say we spend about 30 minutes with each candidate. We aim to gather as much information as possible about each registrant in order to stay objective. The information from the registration form is not sufficient and we highly recommend and remind the candidates to always upload their CVs. School Admission Directors need these CVs to gain a better understanding of your profile. It certainly also makes a better impression on them if you have made the effort to prepare and upload your CV. In addition, we can always print them at the event if you have not brought them onsite.

What about the candidates who have not been selected for One-to-One meetings?

We select only the most prepared, motivated, informed and determined candidates for One-to-One meetings. This can be only 10% of the registrants at the most. So if we have 800 registrants for example, some good candidates may not be selected just because we have limited places and just 10 time slots. Candidates sometimes are excellent but may just not be ready for One-to-One interviews. For example, they can be in their early stage of MBA research or they may lack the length and type of work experience required for the programme. They may not have a clear idea of their reasons for doing an MBA or the pursuit of an MBA may still be a long-term plan. It is also possible that the candidate’s best match is not among the participating schools. Last but not least, some candidates might not be selected for One-to-One meetings because they have registered too late, only few days before the event when we have already finished the matching. So it is important for all prospective applicants to register for the event they will be attending at least 10 days before the date.

What makes someone an outstanding candidate?

Our school partners always say that they want to see proactive people who know their goals and the route which will take them there. These qualities are recognisable from the registration form which all candidates fill in which show that all their choices are in the same direction, leading towards their personal career goal. The outstanding candidate is informed, determined and well-prepared; someone who has read seriously about the schools and knows what his career goals are. Different formats, specialisations, a particular programme focus, internships and type of projects will help you achieve different career goals.

What is the key to making a good impression during the One-to-One meetings?

It is important to introduce yourself briefly and give your CV to the Admissions Director. The main questions the Admissions Directors will probably ask are: Why are you interested in an MBA and what kind of programme are you looking for? What would you consider your best achievements so far, and how do you see your career developing in the years to come? Moreover, the candidates should be informed about the programmes, in order to ask more useful questions and answers and get the best out of these One-to-One meetings. They represent a fantastic opportunity for candidates to inform their choices about whether or not to apply to a particular programme.

What can candidates do after their One-to-One meetings in order to increase their chances of admission?

They should keep in touch with the Admission Officers whom they met at the event. They can also meet with alumni and visit the school campus to show how serious and motivated they are and develop more personal contact with the schools of their interest.