Stanford MBA Recommendation

I Letter of Recommendation
II Notbale Recommendation Questions
III Assessment Grid

You can download a PDF of the exact form your recommender will see below.

[download id=”2121″]

This recommendation form is for the Stanford 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.

Stanford requires that MBA applicants submit two recommendations.

Qualitative accounts of your behaviors, impact, and personal qualities play an essential role in our evaluation of your application–by demonstrating your leadership potential. Your letters of reference should provide specific examples that illustrate your ability and desire to make a difference in the world.

One reference from your current direct supervisor (or next best alternative) at work Your choice of either one additional supervisor reference or one peer reference. We are impressed by what a reference letter says, not by the title of the individual who wrote it or the writing skills of the recommender. You should choose individuals who: a) Know you well through significant, direct involvement with you within the last three years. b) Will provide detailed anecdotes and examples to support their assertions. c) Are truly enthused to write a recommendation for you and will spend sufficient time writing a thoughtful letter.
Stanford GSB Adcom

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 Stanford Admissions Committee? The best recommenders are those that have observed you interacting with others on a regular basis.

After you input your recommender’s name and email inside the Stanford application, he/she will receive an email directing him/her to Stanford’s online recommendation form.

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I Stanford MBA Letter of Recommendation

Letters of reference for the Stanford MBA Program are a vital part of the evaluation process. Your perspective is important to us, as are the degree of enthusiasm and the confidence with which you support the candidate’s application to Stanford.

The most useful recommendations provide detailed descriptions, candid anecdotes, and specific evidence that highlight the candidate’s behavior and impact on those around her or him.  This kind of information helps distinguish the very best individuals from a pool of many well-qualified candidates. Please write your answers to the following questions in a separate document and upload that document into the online application.

Please do not exceed 3 pages, double-spacedDo not include graphics or icons such as company letterhead.

  1. How does the candidate’s performance compare to those of other well-qualified individuals in similar roles? Please provide specific examples. (E.g., what are the applicant’s principal strengths?)  (Up to 500 words)

  2. Describe the most important piece of constructive feedback you have given the applicant. Please detail the circumstances and the applicant’s response. (Up to 500 words)

  3. (Optional) Is there anything else we should know?

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II Notable Stanford MBA Recommendation Questions

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

  • May we contact you at work regarding this applicant?
  • How long have you known the applicant? (Years & Months)
  • During which period of time have you had the most frequent contact with the applicant? (From mm/yyyy – mm/yyyy)
  • Are/were you the applicant’s direct supervisor?
  • Please comment briefly on the context of your interaction with the applicant. If applicable describe the applicant’s role in your organization. (text box – 320 characters) Note that it’s a 320 character limit…not a 320 word limit.
  • What three words would you use to describe this candidate? Please limit yourself to three words.
  • Did you use a translator?
  • If you are a Stanford GSB alumna/alumnus, please enter your degree class year.
  • How many candidates are you recommending to Stanford GSB this year?

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III Stanford MBA Recommendation Assessment Grid

Listed below you will find a number of competencies and character traits that  contribute to successful leadership. Within each category, please mark  the one button corresponding to the behavior that the candidate most typically exhibits. We acknowledge that all candidates have both areas of strength and areas of development. Your candid, honest appraisal will serve not only the admissions committee but also the candidate.

Results Orientation

  • No basis for judgment
  • Fulfills assigned tasks
  • Overcomes obstacles to achieve goals
  • Exceeds goals and raises effectiveness of organization
  • Introduces incremental improvements to enhance  business performance using robust analysis
  • Invents and delivers best-in-class standards and performance

Strategic Orientation

  • No basis for judgment
  • Understands immediate issues of work  or analysis
  • Identifies opportunities for improvement within area of responsibility
  • Develops insights or recommendations that have improved business performance
  • Develops insights or recommendations that have shaped team or department strategy
  • Implements a successful strategy that  challenges other parts  of the company  or other players in the industry

Team Leadership

  • No basis for judgment
  • Avoids leadership responsibilities; does not provide direction to team
  • Assigns tasks to team members
  • Solicits ideas and perspectives from the team; holds members accountable
  • Actively engages the team to develop plans and resolve issues through collaboration; shows how work fits in with what others  are doing
  • Recruits others into duties or roles based on insight into individual abilities; rewards those who exceed expectations

Influence and Collaboration

  • No basis for judgment
  • Accepts input from others
  • Engages others in problem solving
  • Generates  support from others for ideas and initiatives
  • Brings others together across boundaries to achieve results and share best practices
  • Builds enduring partnerships within and outside of organization to improve effectiveness, even at short-term personal cost


  • No basis for judgment
  • Sometimes rambles or is occasionally unfocused
  • Is generally to the point and organized
  • Presents views clearly and in a well-structured manner
  • Presents views clearly and demonstrates understanding of the responses of others
  • Presents views clearly; solicits opinions and concerns; discusses them openly

Information Seeking

  • No basis for judgment
  • Asks direct questions about problem at hand to those individuals immediately available
  • Personally investigates problems by going directly to sources of information
  • Asks a series of probing questions to get at the root of a situation or a problem
  • Does research by making a systematic effort over a limited period of time to obtain needed data or feedback
  • Involves others who would not normally be involved including experts or outside organizations; may get them to seek out information

Developing Others

  • No basis for judgment
  • Focuses primarily on own abilities
  • Points out mistakes to support the development of others
  • Gives specific positive and negative behavioral feedback to support  the development of others
  • Give specific positive and negative behavioral feedback and provides unfailing support
  • Inspires and motivates others to develop by providing feedback and identifying new growth opportunities as well as supporting their efforts to change

Change Leadership

  • No basis for judgment
  • Accepts status quo; does not see the need for change
  • Challenges status quo and identifies what needs to change
  • Defines positive direction for change and persuades others to support it
  • Promotes change and mobilizes individuals to change behavior
  • Builds coalition of supporters and coordinates change across multiple individuals; may create champions who will mobilize others to change

Respect for Others

  • No basis for judgment
  • Is sometimes self-absorbed or overly self-interested
  • Generally treats others with respect; usually shares praise and credit
  • Is humble and respectful to all
  • Is respectful to all and generous with praise; ensures other opinions are heard
  • Uses understanding of others and self to resolve conflicts and foster mutual respect


  • No basis for judgment
  • Shows occasional lapses in trustworthy behavior
  • Generally acts consistently with stated intentions
  • Acts consistently with stated intentions even in difficult circumstances
  • Is reliable and authentic even at some personal cost; acts as a role model for the values of the organization
  • Is reliable and authentic even at some personal cost; works to ensure all members of the organization operate with integrity

Based on your professional experience how would you rate this candidate compared to his/her peer group?

  • Below Average
  • Average
  • Very good (well above average)                                                    •
  • Excellent (top 10%)
  • Outstanding (top 5%)
  • The best encountered in my career

Overall I

  • Do not recommend this candidate to Stanford
  • Recommend this candidate to Stanford with reservations
  • Recommend this candidate to Stanford
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