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What Matters Most to Recruiters When Hiring a Business School Graduate?

Posted by Matt Hazenbush
Matt Hazenbush is the Director of Research Analysis and Communications at GMAC. He supports the organization’s commitment to presenting and disseminating actionable and relevant information about graduate management education through authoring reports, white papers, and briefs, which are available on He also leads presentations, workshops, and panel discussions at industry conferences. Matt earned a B.A. in History and Communication from Boston College and an Ed.M. in Higher Education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Posted on Aug 21, 2019 11:00:00 AM

A new report details what employers say is most important to their hiring decisions involving newly-minted MBAs and business master’s graduates.


In making the decision to earn an MBA or business master’s degree, business school candidates seek to fulfill their professional goals. For most, this means finding a new job at a new company after business school. Findings detailed in April’s Career Aspirations report show that only 1 in 10 candidates plan to stay with their current employer after earning their degree. To position their students for success, business school career services professionals require timely insight into what matters most to corporate recruiters in evaluating business school candidates for positions at their company.

A new report published earlier this month on based on survey responses from more than 1,200 corporate recruiters who work directly with participating business schools reveals that in making hiring decisions, recruiters tend to place more importance on fit—both with the company culture and the job opening—than on prior direct experience or growth potential.

Access the report  

Among the total sample of responding recruiters, 37 percent rank fit with company culture as their most important hiring decision factor, and 31 percent say fit with the job opening is most important.


Though fit with the company culture and the job opening are the most important hiring decision factors across company characteristics, analysis of survey responses by company world region, company type, industry, and size reveal interesting differences in recruiter opinion, all of which are detailed in the report. For instance, European employers place the greatest importance on growth potential and the least on prior direct experience. This is likely reflective of the predominance of pre-experience programs in Europe.

Across industries fit with the company culture and fit with the job opening are the top hiring decision factors, and for most industries fit with the company culture is weighted more heavily. A notable exception is the nonprofit/government sector, which places relatively more importance on fit with the current job opening. Smaller companies, like startups, tend to place more weight on fit with the job opening and prior direct experience compared with other company types. On the other hand, large employers—including those in the Fortune Global 100 and 500—place relatively more weight on fit with the company culture and growth potential.

The report also details the level of importance employers place on specific skills for job openings for recent business school graduates and their evaluation of how well business schools prepare graduates with those skills. In addition, the report examines employers’ perception of business school graduates’ level of preparedness to be successful at their companies. Overall, nearly 9 in 10 agree or strongly agree that their new business school hires are primed for success at their organizations.

Employers say

For more from the Corporate Recruiters Survey, including trends in hiring and compensation for MBA and business master’s graduates, access the Business School Hiring Report: Corporate Recruiters Survey 2019 in the GMAC Research Library and read coverage on GMAC Advisor.

Topics: Employment Outlook, Research Insights

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