A dean of MBA admissions who's read over 50,000 applications shares the quality that makes a candidate stand out

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Isser Gallogly
It's not just about IQ, says Isser Gallogly, pictured.

Business school admissions are competitive, with schools looking for the right mix of experience, undergraduate grades, and GMAT test scores.

With so many components of an MBA application, sometimes it's unclear what stands out most to a reviewer.

Isser Gallogly, associate dean of MBA Admissions New York University’s Stern School of Business, visited Business Insider and provided some insight into what he most looks for in a winning application.

"One of the most important qualities that we look for at Stern is what we call 'IQ' plus 'EQ,'" Gallogly said. Gallogly, who over the course of 15 years has reviewed more than 50,000 applications, said that the best candidates demonstrate both strong intellectual capability and emotional intelligence.

"I think that's one of the things that really differentiates our student body as well as our school — that we look for not only bright intelligent leaders, but those who actually are capable of leading teams, communicating complicated ideas, and bringing things forward," he said.

Emotional intelligence, or EQ, is the ability to read other people's emotional states, and react in turn. Employers value EQ because it allows employees to work well as a part of a team. In fact, there's an indication that candidates with "soft skills," like adaptability and communication, may actually have an advantage over those with purely technical skills in an increasingly automated world, where computers and other machines can do technical calculations quickly.

Admissions teams at Stern are able to evaluate these qualities through a mix of in-person interviews — conversations which delve deeply into personal questions, rather than technical case studies — and an "EQ endorsement" a statement of your character from someone in your life aside from an immediate family member.