Case Studies · 5 minute read

Yale SOM celebrates ten years of efficient and effective holistic review with Kira Talent

Since 2013, Kira has helped Yale SOM gather earlier and deeper insights into their applicants, saving time and resources for their admissions team. Discover how their process has evolved over the last decade, and what they’re looking to do next.


Gathering early insights into applicants to better allocate resources for interviews.

Key outcomes

Replaced standardized English language proficiency tests with a time-saving pre-interview screening process.

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At the Yale School of Management (Yale SOM), educating tomorrow's business leaders means more than teaching them the ins and outs of running a company. 

“The mission of Yale SOM is to educate leaders for business and society,” explained the Assistant Dean for Admissions, Laurel Grodman. “We aim to develop leaders who can think broadly about the challenges that we, as a society, face in an increasingly complex world.” 

“We look for students who will benefit from a multidisciplinary, multifaceted education that encourages them to think beyond the traditional business school boundaries of accounting and finance and marketing and learn how to problem solve on a more macro level,” she continued. “That central ethos of focusing not just on the bottom line, but also on the impact that business has on society, and the relationship between the two, has remained central to who we are as a school and what our alumni go out into the world to do.”

Identifying which of the thousands of yearly applicants will thrive in this unique program, however, requires insight into many different aspects of a candidates profile. 

“A guiding principle of our admissions approach is to give candidates multiple ways to demonstrate their strengths and readiness for the program,” Grodman shared. 

Since 2013, Kira Talent has been helping Yale School of Management gather those insights to identify and enroll the best and brightest in their applicant pool. 

Taking the next step towards greater efficiency

“Each cycle, we receive around 3,500 applicants for the MBA program,” Grodman shared. “That’s a lot of application materials to go through with a relatively small team of reviewers. We began to realize how bringing in some support could make the entire reviewing process more efficient and more thorough, while still giving our readers access to all the critical aspects of an application.” 

“The Kira assessment felt like the ideal area to redistribute our efforts,” she continued. “And with Kira’s Reviewer Services, they provided us with the resources to make the process seamless.”

“Review Services help us identify aspects of a candidacy that require additional consideration, allowing our own readers to focus more deeply on those areas.”

"And, we’ll get more eyes on each applicant, which helps us mitigate instances of bias,” she added. 

Gathering deeper applicant insights

Created to complement the traditional interview process, Yale SOM’s Asynchronous Assessment in Kira Talent works as an interview precursor, giving the admissions team valuable insight into an applicant's communication and language skills, which previously could not be assessed until a live interview. 

“Alongside traditional admissions materials such as transcripts, resumes, and the essay, the Kira assessment is one of the considerations our application readers will take into account when evaluating an application,” shared Grodman. “It not only gives candidates a chance to present themselves in an increasingly relevant media format, but also gives us a more authentic snapshot of their communication skills compared to a written sample that might be highly coached or influenced by others.”

“The short video responses from the Kira assessment may only offer a glimpse, but more often than not, it’s enough for us to flag potential issues before the interview stage.”

Gaining an accurate assessment of language and communication

“Being able to articulate yourself on your feet is an important skill in the MBA classroom,” continued Grodman. “Each year, we receive many international applicants for whom English is not their native language. As the language of instruction at Yale is English, we need to ensure that we’re admitting students who have an adequate mastery of the language that will help them succeed in the classroom.”

“We used to rely on the common English language exams to assess applicants’ abilities,” she explained. “However, we found that those results were not always reflective of what we saw when we interviewed the candidate.” 

“With Kira, we’re able to get a spontaneous language sample from a large group of applicants earlier in the process.”

“The number of interview reports that come back expressing serious English language concerns have decreased significantly since we implemented Kira,” Grodman shared. “That's been a big win for our admissions team because it means that we’re saving ourselves hours of work scheduling and conducting those interviews.”

“Because Kira has allowed us to drop the English language exam requirement for the MBA program, we’ve been able to reduce barriers for our applicants as well,” she continued. “We have another program where we do currently require a TOEFL or an IELTS, and we get a high number of inquiries about exemptions due to factors such as access to the test and conflicts with exam dates, especially close to a deadline.” 

Delivered online and on-demand, Kira’s Asynchronous Assessment allows applicants to complete their responses at a time and place that works for them.

“Removing that burden has been quite valuable to our MBA candidates,” Grodman added. “It’s one less factor for them to worry about as they get their application ready in time for the deadline.”

Evolving admissions alongside a trusted partner

“Kira, as a partner, is very innovative, always thinking about what's coming next and sharing ways in which other schools are approaching challenges that are similar to ours,” Grodman shared.

“The platform itself mirrors this approach to innovation by making it so easy for us to iterate on our process," she continued. "This gives us the freedom to be a little more experimental than we could be within our central application, and allows us to keep the assessment relevant to the current business landscape.”

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