Johnson MBA Recommendation

I Letter of Recommendation
II Notbale Recommendation Questions
III Assessment Grid

Cornell uses the same recommendation form for both the 2-year and 1-year MBA programs. You can download a PDF of the exact form your recommender will see below.

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[download id=”5199″]

This recommendation form is for the Cornell Johnson MBA 2016-17 application season. Generally speaking recommendation forms do not change from year to year so it’s a safe bet to assume that the same recommendation form will be used during the 2017-18 application season. When the 2017-18 application goes live (summer 2017) the download file and this page will be updated.

One notable difference about Cornell Johnson compared to most other MBA programs is that it allows MBA applicants submit one OR two recommendations – one recommendation is obligatory, the second is optional.

Please provide the contact information for a minimum of one and a maximum of two individuals excited to endorse your candidacy. Official recommendations for Johnson are a vital part of the final evaluation process. Carefully follow the instructions below and note the timing of when the admissions office will review this information.
– Cornell Johnson Adcom 

Cornell’s adcom has some advice on choosing recommenders.

Before you ask someone for a recommendation it’s best to understand what types of questions the school will put to them. Asking the CEO of your company for a recommendation may be tempting, but will he/she be able to convincingly convey your strengths and weaknesses to the Cornell Johnson Admissions Committee? The best recommenders are those that have observed you interacting with others on a regular basis.
– Cornell Johnson Adcom 

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I Cornell Johnson MBA Letter of Recommendation

Figuring out the Johnson recommendation letter is a little tricky. Johnson gives recommenders two options for inputting/uploading their responses. On top of that, the recommendation questions and criteria are located in two separate sections of the online form.

Recommenders can either copy and paste answers to the recommendation questions in the online form or they can upload a document. The form does not truncate answers that go beyond the word or character limit. If your recommender is uploading a document, Johnson asks that it be written on company letterhead (if the company policy allows). Also, Johnson suggests that a one page recommendation letter is sufficient.

  1. Please provide a brief description of your interaction with the applicant and, if applicable, the applicant’s role in your organization. (Recommended word count: 50 words)
  2. How does the applicant’s performance compare to that of other well-qualified individuals in similar roles? Please provide specific examples. (E.g. what are the applicant’s principal strengths?) (Recommended word count: 500 words)
  3. Describe the most important piece of constructive feedback you have given the applicant. Please detail the circumstances and the applicant’s response. (Recommended word count: 500 words)
  4. (Optional) Is there anything else we should know?

Beyond directly answering the four recommendation questions (above), Johnson also prompts recommenders to comment on the following topics in their answers.

  • Strengths and outstanding qualities
  • How applicant gets along with others
  • Oral and written communication skills
  • English language ability if English is not the applicant’s native language
  • Areas of improvement (weaknesses)
  • Anything else you would like to say about the applicant

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II Notable Cornell Johnson MBA Recommendation Questions

Aside from the typical questions Yale SOM asks recommenders (Name, Address, Phone etc.) here are some notable short answer questions you should be aware of.

  • Context of Relationship (dropdown)
  • Nature of Relationship (dropdown)
  • How long have you known the applicant?
  • Most frequent contact from date MM/DD/YYYY to date MM/DD/YYYY
  • If you are affiliated with the Johnson School or Cornell University, please select the option that most closely matches. (dropdown)
  • If you are a Johnson School graduate, Degree Awarded/Year Awarded
  • May we contact you regarding this applicant?
  • If the applicant receives an offer of admission from Johnson, you may be contacted by a third party company to verify the information you provide. Please let us know how you would prefer to be contacted.
  • Did you use a translator?
  • Name of Translator
  • Translator’s Phone Number (including country code)
  • Based on your professional experience, how do you rate this applicant compared to his/her peer group?
  • Overall Recommendation
    • Highly Recommend
    • Recommend with confidence
    • Recommend
    • Recommend with slight reservation
    • Recommend with more than one reservation
    • Do not recommend

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III Cornell Johnson MBA Recommendation Assessment Grid

Johnson asks recommenders to assess candidates on a number of competency areas. (Optional) Recommenders can provide any comments related to the assessment grid in an text box at the end.


  • No basis for judgement
  • Willing to step in and take action when required to do so
  • Takes charge spontaneously when problem needs attention and no one steps forward
  • Seeks out new work challenges; tackles problems head-on and works to resolve them without delay
  • Proactively puts in extra effort to accomplish critical or difficult tasks, and persists in the face of obstacles
  • Actively seeks high impact and high visibility projects and steps up to challenge even when things are not going well; frequently takes actions that grow the team or organization

Results Orientation

  • No basis for judgement
  • Fulfills assigned tasks
  • Takes specific, tailored actions to overcome obstacles to achieve goals; plans for contingencies
  • Acts to exceed goals and raise effectiveness of organization
  • Introduces incremental improvements to enhance business performance using robust analysis; sets continually higher goals for self and team
  • Invents new approaches and works to meet or exceed best-in-class standards and levels of performance


  • No basis for judgement
  • Gets point across; responds to explicit concerns when asked
  • Stays on topic; reframes statements when necessary to make clearer; organizes content so that it is easily understood; takes time to listen
  • Present views clearly and structures content to present views in a way that is logical and easily followed by a broad audience; acknowledges audience feedback
  • Explicitly structures content to engage specific audience segments; uses tailored language and examples that appeal to specific groups; asks pertinent questions; restates or paraphrases what others have said to check for understanding
  • Structures content for senior-level meetings and presentations and maintains composure when challenged; solicits opinions and concerns and incorporates them “in the moment” discusses them openly and adjusts communication

Influence and Collaboration

Professional Impression, Poise and Presence

Respect for others

Team Leadership

Developing Others

Change Leadership



Self Awareness

Information Seeking

Analytical Thinking

Problem Solving

Strategic Orientation

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