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  • Malvika Patil

Chicago Booth MBA Recommendation Questions 2023 - 2024

Chicago Booth practices a unique educational philosophy called the ‘Chicago Approach’, designed to create a meaningful framework for organizing thoughts and making decisions. The goal of this framework is to better equip Booth students to continue learning from experience, well after they leave the school. 

Booth’s curriculum is therefore focused on learning broad, basic disciplines like economics, accounting, psychology, sociology, and statistics, and their applications in business education. Although the curriculum is heavily analytical, its Leadership Education and Development (LEAD) component ensures that students develop well-rounded skills in leadership, collaboration, and community building. 

And that’s what Booth looks for - students who can demonstrate strategy-oriented thinking, analytical skills, and impactful leadership. While you will aim to demonstrate these in your Booth essays, you should also demonstrate them in your letters of recommendation. 

How Many Letters of Recommendation Does Chicago Booth Require?

Chicago Booth requires two letters of recommendations. One should be from a current supervisor in a professional capacity. The other can be from an individual who has worked with you professionally, in an extracurricular, an organization or club, or in a community building activity. You should choose recommenders who have a clear idea of your strengths, personality, weaknesses, and can speak to your future potential. Ideally, this is someone you’ve worked with consistently.

Like most schools, Chicago Booth uses the GMAC Common Letter of Recommendation format to frame its recommendation questions.

Chicago Booth MBA Recommendation Questions

Recommender Information

  • Contact information

  • Relationship to applicant

  • How long have you known the applicant?

  • Do you have an MBA degree?

  • Are you in any way affiliated with The University of Chicago or Chicago Booth?

Skills Assessment

Recommenders are asked to rate the candidate on a handful of leadership traits and skills on the following scale: Unable to Assess, Area of Concern, Opportunity for Development, Solid/Meets Expectations, Strength/Exceeds Expectations.

Please assess the candidate’s skills in the following areas. Your honest and candid assessment greatly helps the Admissions Committee in evaluating the candidate. Most candidates will have a range of marks; it is extremely rare for a candidate to exceed expectations in all areas.

  • Ability to adapt to change

  • Self-awareness/Maturity

  • Openness to feedback and constructive criticism

  • Interpersonal skills with colleagues/subordinates

  • Interpersonal skills with superiors/executives

  • Confidence

  • Initiative/Self-Motivation

  • Collaboration/Teamwork

  • Critical thinking and problem solving skills

  • Respect for diverse perspectives

  • Capacity to lead

Peer Comparison

Based on your professional experience, how does the applicant rate within his or her peer group?

  • Best in Career

  • Truly Exceptional (top 5%)

  • Outstanding (top 10%)

  • Very Good (top 25%)

  • Average (top 50%)

  • Below Average

  • Unable to Assess

Please indicate the reference group for this comparison.

Overall I:

  • Enthusiastically recommend this candidate

  • Recommend this candidate

  • Recommend this candidate with reservations

  • Do not recommend this candidate

Recommendation Questions 

Please provide a written letter of recommendation in support of the applicant addressing the following questions:

  • How do the applicant’s performance, potential, background, or personal qualities compare to those of other well-qualified candidates in similar roles? Please provide specific examples.

  • Please describe the most important piece of constructive feedback you have given the applicant. Please detail the circumstances and the applicant’s response.


Skills Assessment

Here’s what Chicago Booth's Skills Assessment rating scale looks like:

Booth’s skill assessment consists of 11 broad areas that each target a desirable leadership trait. For each of these areas, your recommender will rate you on a scale that ranges from the lowest rating of ‘Unable to Assess’ to the highest rating of ‘Strength/Exceeds Expectations’. 

Guide your recommender to engage deeply with these ratings. They should carefully consider your skill level in each area and rate you accordingly. That means that they should refrain from giving you the highest ratings in all 11 areas. Like the form says, it is rare for a candidate to exceed expectations in all areas! They should select 8-9 areas where they believe you exceed expectations, 2-3 where you perform well and meet expectations, and 1 where they can give you the middle rating of ‘Opportunity for Development’, only if major improvement is needed! This is a balanced rating approach that shows that your recommender is fairly assessing your candidacy. 

For your peer comparison, your recommender should aim for Truly Exceptional (top 5%). If you have extensive experience and accomplishments in your field of work, your recommender may select Best in Career. Overall, they should select ‘Enthusiastically recommend this candidate’. 

Recommendation Questions

1. How do the applicant’s performance, potential, background, or personal qualities compare to those of other well-qualified candidates in similar roles? Please provide specific examples.

Your recommender should think of this question as a way to comment on their peer comparison rating above. They should explain why they have given you that rating by assessing your work performance, team spirit, career progression within the organization, and personal qualities - and how these differentiate you from your peer group.

There is no word limit, but recommenders typically give 2-3 anecdotes that each demonstrate a strength or quality. Bonus points if these strengths align with Booth’s values:

  • Analytical thinking

  • Intellectual freedom

  • Collaboration

  • Strategic mindset

It’s best to structure these anecdotes in the SCAR format (Situation, Challenge, Action and Results). This provides the AdCom with a clear idea of the context of your strength, the impact you achieved, and what you learned in the process.

2. Please describe the most important piece of constructive feedback you have given the applicant. Please detail the circumstances and the applicant’s response.

In this answer, your recommender is expected to discuss a professional or a personal weakness they’ve identified and offered you feedback on. The best way to share this weakness is in the form of a story structured using the SCAR format. Advise them to dive into the details - when they noticed this weakness, how it impacted your work or your team members, the specifics of the feedback they offered, and the steps you took to address it. 

Note: Make sure that they’re providing a genuine evaluation here. A fake weakness or a strength masked as a weakness will be obvious for the AdCom and hurt your application. 

Our complete Recommender Guide course on has all the advice (and sample letters based on real applicants) you need to create a compelling letter of recommendation.


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