Hi, and thanks for joining us for a Google Hangout about soft skills and your graduate business application process. I’m Betsy McIntyre, Director of Product Management at the Graduate Management Admission Council – we’re the people who make the GMAT exam. Today in this hangout we’re going to talk about how Reflect by GMAC can help you with your b-school applications. During our time together, I’m going to talk about:What are soft skills?Why are soft skills important to me? How can I identify soft skills?What can I do with soft skills after I know my strengths and weaknesses?But, before all that, what are soft skills?
We always joke at GMAC that soft skills are anything that’s not hard. But that’s not exactly true. Soft skills are skills that are hard to measure. They’re hard to develop, and they’re hard to understand. They’re hard to measure because there is no “right” or “wrong” answer. Unlike a math question (or a GMAT question) which has a clear right or wrong answer. They’re hard to develop because it takes time and effort on your part. Again, since there isn’t a “good” or “bad” way to be, it’s an ongoing process to change how you behave. Finally, they’re hard because they’re difficult understand.
We’ve also all heard in the marketplace that soft skills are really important. Employers are looking for them, graduate business schools want you to be able to talk about yours, and being self aware makes you a better friend, colleague and team member. Today, we’re going to talk to you about soft skills and how you can determine your best traits and how to take advantage of them in your application process. Ultimately, personality assessments are an important way to determine an your soft-skill strengths and weaknesses because personality drives behavior. At its core, that’s what Reflect is. A personality assessment. But, what is personality and how can understanding your underlying personality help you with your b-school applications?
Personality is who you are – it defines how you interact with other people. Most importantly, though, personality is a strong driver of behavior. And, your behavior is what determines your reputation.Some of the Key Insights this tool can provide include How does the person typically approach work and interact with others? What strengths can the person rely on to enhance their performance? What tendencies might derail them? How will they likely to respond when stressed? What motivates and drives them? And in what types of work environment will they thrive?
Reflect measures your core personality – how you are at the very basics. According to common research, a person’s core personality is defined when they in their mid-20’s. Over time, each person learns skills to manage their personality – we call those coping mechanisms. Those coping mechanisms are what we use to develop behavior. Let me give you an example. Typically, I am very patient with others. On days when I’m super busy or stressed, I tend not to be as patient and can have a bit of a bite. My core personality – much to my dismay – is me when I’m stressed. I have learned, though, over the years to tamper my temper. Many of the resources in Reflect are designed to help users develop those muscles.
But, how can Reflect really benefit you?
Let me talk to you a bit about how Reflect was developed. We started about 8 years ago with the concept that soft skills were important to graduate business students. How did we get there? We heard it directly from you. It was really important to us, though, that we find and use a psychometrically sound tool to measure personality and soft skills. After about a year of investigation, we narrowed our search down to 5 which we tested with graduate business students. They found the information provided in the Hogan Assessments report the most informative, but found the report daunting. As a result, we worked with Hogan to create Reflect – a report that sits over the Hogan assessment. With Hogan, we developed the 10 competencies that you see in Reflect today. We defined these as:InnovationOperational ThinkingDecision MakingStrategic VisionStrategic Self-awarenessResilienceDriveInterpersonal IntuitionValuing OtherCollaborationAfter we determined the list, we tested them with 900 corporate recruiters and 40 graduate business schools.
80% of respondents said that the competency model matched 80% of the skills they were looking for in new hires. We also asked them what would make 100%. Their responses were either knowledge based or cognitive skills – two things that you are providing your students in their curriculum.Now, I’m going to hand the presentation over to Deb and she is going to walk you through the tool.
Betsy M.Now that we’ve talked a little bit about how Reflect came to be, I thought I would give you a quick overview. The Reflect workflow is actually quite simple. It follows the Assess – Discover – Improve.First, in the ASSESS section, each user starts with the full Hogan assessment. There are about 550 questions in the Hogan and it will take a user about an hour to complete it.Second, in Discover, the user gets to see their results on all 10 competencies. Deb is going to walk you through this in more detail in a few minutes.Finally, in Improve, the user gets to execute against the workplan as they set it up in the Discover phase. Deb is also going to walk you through this in more detail in a few minutes.
Let’s now take a look at Reflect and get into the specifics of the tool, how it can benefit your students and how it can help make your role as “coach” easier, plus we want to point out a few key features of the tool. Many at GMAC have taken Reflect and seen their results. Many times, when users first saw their “scores”, they were a little confused because some had a low number, which on first instinct signals bad. However, I want to stress, that the numbers are not scores but really a range on a spectrum. Each has pluses and minuses, and when the users really took the time to read each competency, they realized that it did sound more like their “core” personality. So it is important to direct your students to fully read and not read into what the results mean.
So we’ve heard about what Reflect measures ie your core personality or the essence of who you are and how we developed the tool with our partners Hogan. So let’s now take a look at the report you get once you have taken the assessment and the integrated learning resources that it provides.Although we’ll be looking at screen shots of the on-line tool one thing you’ll note as we look through it: Reflect is a self-development tool and was designed for busy people on the move:It’s all on-line and you can access it from a laptop, tablet or smart phoneit is highly interactive with information presented in a visual and easily digestible way (there is no need for your students to wade through long pdf reports!) In fact the tool was designed very much with the digital native generation in mind.So this is John Smith’s report. You’ll note that we are now in the Discover section of the Assess-Discover-Improve workflow that Betsy described earlier.There are four sections to the Discover report and it opens up on this Report Summary page. The Report Summary is basically like an executive summary. This provides an overview of how John approaches 4 key working domains based on his over all competency results: what he does when faced with a business decisionwhen managing himself and others how he approaches day to day tasksand how he interact with others. It is essentially a snap shot of how others see John in a work context
So John has a 3 in Resilience but he will probably want to understand what exactly Reflect means by ‘Resilience’. Our aim was to make the report easy to use and self explanatory and lessen the risk of misinterpretation. So when you hover over each competency you find a description of what someone who possesses that competency looks like.
If we dive into the Report Details section we can investigate John’s results by each competency
Having reviewed the Report Details a typical reaction might be ‘wow there’s a lot of stuff here – where do I start?’So in addition to competency-specific learning resources and tips the report includes a tailored set of recommended Start, Stop, Keep actions which John can start working on immediately to help him drive behaviour change which you can see here.
And when he hovers over a particular competency on the left it highlights which of the Start, Stop and Keeps relate to that competency. We’ve found that this more prescriptive approach is something students really liked but also found they wanted guidance on how to start doing these things. So when you click on an Action you get some suggested actionable tips to get you started. And again if there are particular actions or tips that John wants to flag to work on later he can add then to his Workplan.Before we move on to look at the Work Plan in the Improve section I want to show you the last part for the Discover report which is the Benchmarking page
You can see here on the right of the screen a list of 14 career or job functions. Hogan has detailed assessment and job performance data for people in these functions and have been able to do analysis to determine which competencies drive success in these roles. So if John Smith is looking to try and become a Financial Analyst he can see which competencies have been shown to equate with success in that role. Let’s take a look.
So on the right we have a brief description of what financial analysts do and what drives performance in that role.
Over on the left we still have John’s results but you will have noticed they have re-ordered themselves into those that are Critical, Important and Helpful for success as a Financial Analyst.So what is this Career benchmarking feature telling us? It is not analyzing John’s results and suggesting a career for him rather it enables him to consider a role he might be interested in and carry out a gap analysis. John now knows the competencies he should spend more time working on if he wants to go down the Financial Analyst path. And remember a lower score doesn’t mean he can’t succeed rather he might have to work a bit harder on some of the important competencies.
Any finally we come on to the Improve section of the tool. This is where John can create and manage his own workplan. Here you can see the actions, tips and resources that John has added to his Workplan so far. You can also add your own action item or work with an advisor to add some more - John has added a note to arrange an appointment with career services. He can also review his learning resources by type – so if he only has time to read a short article he can browse just the articles he has selected
While the report has recommended resources and actions based on John’s results he can also access the entire Reflect resource library in the All Resources tab which he can browse by competency or resource type .
Here you’ll note that in addition to the 10 competencies we have identified 3 other practical skills that are universally useful for everyone to have: conducting meetings, managing teams and managing conflict This section also provides some learning resources to help improve those key skills and these are resources that will come in very useful during an MBA program, not just when they return to the workforce!
Reflect has many uses and is a great complement to all programs. We have some time to address your questions.
What are soft skills?
• Accounting Skills
• Project Management
Importance of Soft Skills
“Jobstacles: For Youth –
Soft Skills Are Hard Skills”
– June 25
“Soft skills graduates
need to master in a job
market” – June 25
“Pickier than ever,
employers on the hunt
for soft skills” - June 25
“How Grads can
Soft Skills to
Employers” – June 12
“Hard times for
soft skills” - June 21
Personality & Behavior
What is personality?
What is behavior?
Personality is who you are-a combination
of an individual’s emotional, attitudinal,
and response patterns
Behavior is the range of actions or
mannerisms made by an individual
Personality is a strong driver of Behavior
What does Reflect measure and help develop?
Your core personality:
what Reflect measures
developed to counter
core personality traits
developed by using
How can Reflect benefit the you?
Reflect prepares individuals for the business
school application process and beyond
Reflect helps you know themselves better so you can:
• Write a stronger application that showcases you self-awareness of your
strengths and areas for development
• Position yourself better in admissions, internship and employment
interviews by speaking knowledgably about your soft skills and personal
• Identify and build upon the 10 key competencies that global recruiters
and business schools are looking for
• Be better prepared for group work experiences in the program
How was Reflect Developed?
• Collaborated with industry
• Conducted Extensive research
with 900 corporate recruiters and
40 leading graduate schools
around the world
Number of Industry Respones
92% of respondents gave
a rating of 50 or higher
a rating of 80 or
Why only 80%?
Top “additional” competencies cited by corporate recruiters were either knowledge
based (ex: project management, technology skills), or cognitive (ex: critical reasoning,
Sample Application Questions
What are your strengths?
What are your areas for improvement?
How can you contribute to a group?
What makes you stand out in a crowd?
What skills do you want to build in a graduate
Ask Us Your Questions…
Type your questions using
the Q&A option
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