Business Schools Implement a New Selection Criteria

A recent Wall Street Journal article reported that many business schools nationwide are adding personality tests to the traditional application process. I applaud this move because it will require applicants to not only demonstrate intelligence and aptitude, but also what it takes to relate to others (and themselves) in the real world, a concept otherwise known as emotional intelligence (EQ).

Since 2010, the University of Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business has required applicants to fill out a 206-question Personal Characteristics Inventory. “Companies select for top talent with assessments like this,” stated Andrew Sama, senior associate director of their MBA admissions. “If we are selecting for future business leaders, why shouldn’t we be [using] similar tools?”

Personally, I have had success using my own tool to evaluate people. Specifically, I have focused on i3K—intelligence, intensity, integrity, and kindness. I developed this tool early in my career at Sperry Corporation and have used it ever since. This tool looks at both IQ as well as EQ. I learned early on that EQ is critical to building high-performance teams.

When I later arrived at AT&T, I wanted to get an early read on my senior team. I found no shortage of data from the human resources department, but unfortunately it was of no value to me. According to the files, everyone was doing a terrific job and always had. That’s when I put i3K to work. I was able to get a much more complete picture of my team.

Notre Dame is not the only school to assess emotional intelligence. Yale School of Management has also begun testing volunteer applicants in order to gather data on what traits will predict future success. Even University of Ottawa’s medical school applicants are now assessed for EQ qualities. I expect many more schools, business or otherwise, to follow suit.

At the very core of being Chief we discover that a Chief must not only dictate orders, make decisions, and put plans into action, but must also be the example. In order to achieve this, emotional intelligence is required. Fortunately, EQ can be learned. Not only will business schools be testing for emotional intelligence, but I’m sure they will also be teaching it in the years to come. I look forward to the positive results of these changes.

post a comment

[2 Responses]

  1. Mitch Russo | |


    Thanks for an insightful commentary and update on where EQ fits into the current graduate curriculum. As you know and as we’ve all experienced, the highest paid executives in the world are those who have mastered the art of communication and have a highly evolved EQ which allows them to build common ground with just about everyone they meet.

    I would enjoy reading in future posts about how you would advise a Chief who wants to raise the EQ of his team empowering them to perform at even greater levels. Chiefs all over the world need to know how to go beyond the traditional tools and tap into the human reserve by engaging hearts as well as minds.

    Thanks again for your insightful wisdom!

  2. Rick Miller | |

    Thanks for your feedback Mitch. I agree that the most successful leaders often have the most highly evolved EQ skills. These leaders also build teams with a similar focus by hiring well, reinforcing these positive choices, and leading by example. Expect lots more on these critical softer skills in the future. Thanks!