Which MBA schools accept academic grades?

Only place 4: Why your grades are not so important and what HR managers really pay attention to (with infographic)

by Tim Reichel

"Only the grade counts!"

That was yesterday. The day before yesterday to be precise.

Even so, many students go crazy at the thought that they will later miss out on their dream job because the number on their report card is wrong. “What should my future boss think of me? How does it look in the interview? What if other graduates got a better grade than me? "

During my work as a study advisor, I hear these fears on a regular basis. But now I know the statistical background and can reassure you: HR managers no longer just pay attention to the grade in the application process. There are other qualifications that are far more important.

In this article, I'll show you what these are.


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Your grades aren't as important as you think

Before we look at what HR managers really pay attention to, a short insert: the train of thought of many students that grades are the most important evaluation criterion for future employers is at first glance logical and not at all absurd.

After all, during their studies they only get to know one key performance indicator: grades. Even soft skill modules or additional courses are graded. From the first semester onwards, it is important to keep an eye on the transcript of records, and from the middle of the course at the latest, interest in studying gives way to the desire for an optimized résumé for later interviews.

In addition, there is nothing wrong with good grades - they just aren't everything. Because there are other factors that give you better opportunities for your career start. You just have to know them. And: You have to give up your branded image of the meaning of your grades.

Only then can you optimally position yourself for your dream job.


Infographic: What HR managers really pay attention to

In its annual university ranking, WirtschaftsWoche collects detailed data on Germany's universities and conducts extensive surveys of the most important personnel in the country.

It not only records which universities and which subjects do best, but also which qualifications are particularly in demand among university graduates.

In the 2016 university ranking, these top 15 characteristics were rated as particularly important:

The final grade of the interviewed personnel managers is only in fourth place (39 percent); Individual grades (for modules or subject groups) are irrelevant. Most important is the personality of the graduates (1st place, 66 percent), followed by initial practical experience (2nd place, 60 percent) and the type of degree (3rd place, 50 percent).

The importance of English skills (5th place, 39 percent) and IT skills (6th place, 38 percent) are almost on par with the final grade.

The importance of the length of study (7th place, 32 percent) and the reputation of the university (10th place, 25 percent) are surprisingly low. Social commitment alongside studies is rated highly by human resources and ranks 8th in the evaluation, also with around 25 percent.

More information on the university ranking gbit’s here at studis-online.de and here directly at WirtschaftsWoche.


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For HR professionals, your grades are not the deciding factor. If you believe the questionnaire, they are not interested in individual grades at all. More important to them are your personality, practical experience and the type of your university degree.

Nevertheless, your grades can make all the difference (other things being equal) and be a door opener for the first interview. They can also ensure that you assert yourself against other graduates in static selection processes.

Nevertheless, you shouldn't just rely on your great report card and rest on your one-cut. Because at the latest when the first personal selection rounds start, you are invited to the assessment center or meet future colleagues, your grades are of no use to you.

Keep that in mind and base your studies accordingly.

Grades are important: yes. But they are not everything. Your personality counts - and what you put together in addition to your professional training. Do not study for a key figure between 1 and 4. Study for your personal development.

Then you have every chance later.


Image: © Ryan McGuire / gratisography.com