Interpersonal Skills in MBA Admissions: How Are They Conceptualized and Assessed?

Gerard Beenen*, Shaun Pichler, Shahin Davoudpour

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Employers and students concur that soft skills or interpersonal skills are critical to managerial success, yet we know little about how MBA program admissions professionals conceptualize and assess these skills in the context of global management education. Such practices have key implications for interpersonal skills curriculum and training in MBA programs around the globe. A survey of 182 MBA admissions professionals from 24 countries revealed surprising agreement in how interpersonal skills were conceptualized, and suggest interpersonal skills and soft skills are not synonymous. Results also indicated that only 30% of U.S. and international MBA programs use specific criteria to assess applicants’ interpersonal skills, with the remainder using nonspecific criteria or no assessment method. We discuss the need for more rigorous assessment of interpersonal skills in MBA admissions, closer coordination between admissions officers and curriculum developers, and tighter alignment between interpersonal skills assessment and MBA curriculum and learning outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)34-54
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Management Education
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 2018


  • interpersonal skills
  • management education

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • General Business, Management and Accounting


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