Darden 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=”3322″]

This recommendation form is for the UVA Darden MBA 2015-16 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 2016-17 application season. When the 2016-17 application goes live (summer 2016) the download file and this page will be updated.

Darden requires that MBA applicants submit two recommendations.

We require two recommendations that address the questions asked on our recommendation form. Additional recommendations may be submitted, but they should offer additional and valuable insight. Generally, work-related recommendations are more valuable than academic-related recommendations.
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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 UVA Darden 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 Darden application, he/she will receive an email directing him/her to Darden’s online recommendation form.

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I UVA Darden MBA Letter of Recommendation

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 4 pages, double-spaced, using 12-point font. Recommended fonts are Arial, Courier, and Times New Roman. Please do not include graphics or icons such as company letterhead. Upload a Word or PDF document.

  1. Please provide a brief description of your interaction with the applicant and, if applicable, the applicant’s role in your organization. (Limit 500 characters.)

  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?) (no word limit)

  3. Describe the most important piece of constructive feedback you have given the applicant. Please detail the circumstances and the applicant’s response. (no word limit)

  4. Is there anything else we should know? (no word limit)

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II Notable UVA Darden MBA Recommendation Questions

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

  • Are you a Darden School of Business Alumnus? (dropdown)
  • May we contact you at work regarding this applicant? (dropdown)
  • Have known applicant since (dropdown)
  • During which period of time have you had the most frequent contact with the applicant? (text field)
  • Are/were you the applicant’s direct supervisor? (dropdown)
  • Did you use a translator in completing this recommendation? (dropdown)
  • Do you have an MBA? (dropdown)
  • Based on your professional experience, how do you rate this candidate compared to her/his peer group?
    • The best encoutered in my career
    • Outstanding (top 5%)
    • Excellent (top 10%)
    • Very good (well above average)
    • Average
    • Below average
  • Overall, I
    • Recommend enthusiastically
    • Recommend this candidate to Darden
    • Recommend this candidate to Darden, with reservations
    • Do not recommend this candidate to Darden

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III UVA Darden MBA Recommendation Assessment Grid

Listed below you will find a grid listing some competencies and character traits that contribute to successful leadership. Within each row, please mark the one box corresponding to the behavior that the candidate most typically exhibits. Your candid, honest appraisal of the candidate will be helpful to the Admissions Committee. If you feel you cannot provide an assessment, please check the “No Basis” box.

Results Orientation

  • 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
  • No basis

Strategic Orientation

  • 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
  • No basis

Team Leadership

  • Avoids leadership responsibilities; does not provide direction to team
  • Assigns tasks to team member
  • 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
  • No basis

Influence and Collaboration

  • 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


  • 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 response of others
  • Presents views clearly; solicits opinions and concerns; discusses them openly
  • No basis

Information Seeking

  • 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 ofprobing 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
  • No basis

Developing Others

  • 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
  • Gives 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
  • No basis

Change Leadership

  • 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

  • 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


  • 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
  • No basis
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