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Monday, November 01, 2004

Reflecting on Recommendations 

Friday's excitements knocked me off track from something I was going to blog about. As it happens, it concerns recommenders and recommendations.

On Thursday I had a phone conversation with the colleague doing my peer recommendation for Stanford. She wanted to talk through the two or three areas that she was identifying as weaknesses so that I could query what she planned to say if I felt she was being unfair. I've taken the view all along that I want my recommenders to tell the 'truth' as they've experienced it, and if I end up being rejected because of what someone's said in a recommendation that's fine. I'd rather not get a place than get in somewhere on the basis of a misrepresentation. So as far as I was concerned, she should write about what she'd observed and experienced of me, good or bad. It wasn't a particularly easy converation (let's face it, no one likes having the things they're not good at pointed out to them) but it was a useful one. In general, I think she was fair and the conversation highlighted to me some areas that I need to work on (as well as answers to the 'what are your weaknesses', 'what would your colleagues say about you' type questions in any interview). What did strike me though is that some elements were very much tied into the way in which the organisation works and the situations in which I work with this colleague. What she was saying was absolutely right in the contexts that she's observed, but wouldn't necessarily be right in different contexts (although I'm the first to admit what she said does reflect my natural style and that behaving differently doesn't come as easily).

Given all this, I'm glad, despite Friday's debacle, that I asked my former boss to give me recommendations as well. My first instinct in choosing her, especially to do an extra rec for Kellogg, was that she could say more about my team working skills, because my last organisation was much more team based than this one is. More broadly though, I think she gives the added perspective of having seen me work in a very different type of context and in different ways. Hopefully that will mean that collectively the recs will reveal the weaknesses and strengths that are 'absolutes' rather than a function of a particular situation.

To change tack, it seems like the end of last week was a tough time for a number of bloggers, in various ways. I hope things work out for everyone. Unless I'm mistaken, with the exception of Chicago, deadlines are pretty much over until December. Good luck to everyone finishing up for R1 and may interviw invites come floding your way. And similar good wishes to everyone working towards GMAT and R2.

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