I feel privileged to have experience of competing in admission processes for Executive MBA from premier Indian B-schools. Post CAT/GMAT, it starts with submitting papers on SOP, Work-ex, Reco-letters, Questionnaires etc and ends with a crucial Personal Interview. The whole process requires a lot of introspection. I feel it as a rich experience to get involved in those processes with premier Indian B-Schools like IIMs, XLRI, SP Jain’s, NMIMS, IMT etc., I would like to summarize all my experiences here:
I feel that the following are three important qualities that are tested in the admission process: ‘Clarity of thought’, ’Positive attitude’, ’Presentation skills’.
Clarity on Career & Course:
Clarity is expected on “why this course?”. Different answers for this Q are like this: For a working guy, MBA course may be useful for career progression. It may be useful in switching to new field of work. For example, For an IT developer, it may be useful to switch over to sales & marketing of IT products/services.
Introspection on the following aspects is required:
Your strengths & weaknesses, Aligning of your career objectives with the course objectives, Your achievements, Extra-curricular activities, Hobbies etc.
A rigorous course curriculum, learning from well reputed & experienced professors, diverse mix of batch mates, assignments & case studies, international immersion programmes give you a lot of exposure. A little study about the B-school & the specified course is a bit useful. In this regard, the following aspects are useful:
Knowledge on history of the B-school, it’s strengths & strategic location, information on the specific course, core-topics & electives dealt in the course, enquiries with alumni, a bit of R&D on placements.
You may be tested on your seriousness about joining the course. The interviewer may suggest another course or career path and may strongly say that you are much suitable for that. You need to be strong and clear to defend your stand.
Basic knowledge on Finance fundamentals gives a lot of confidence to a typical Engineering/Science graduate. Check out this document prepared by IIM Shillong. I found it quite useful. You may expect Q like: ‘How is inflation rate calculated?’ or ‘what is sensex?’ etc.
Be clear and submit facts while filling up application forms, writing SOP & other papers etc., required in the admission process. Keep a copy of all those documents and go through those docs carefully before the interview. You may expect some Q’s from the documents submitted by you. Of course, it is about you and prepared by you only.
Most generally, the interview starts with the question “Tell about you”. Try to utilize it cleverly. This may be the only direct question posed at you which can be used by you to hint at your strong areas and thus leading the direction of interview to your comfort zone. And of course there is a chance that it ends up as a casual Q and may not have any impact on the next course of i/v. The interviewers may follow strictly their agenda of Q’s. But keep one thing in mind. Never lose confidence. Throughout the interview, make use of commonsense and utilize every opportunity to pull the course of interview in to your stronger zones.
Don’t be much afraid of Q’s from your graduation syllabus. On that aspect, you should be able to give an overall picture. For example, let us suppose that you are an Engineer in Electronics & Communications. Remember it’s not an interview for scientist in DRDO or ISRO. No need of going deep in to the core engineering topics but a quick outlook is enough. Look at the following questions:
How Electronics is relevant to the industry? What are analog and digital devices? Specify some advantages of OFC? What are various modulation techniques in communication? What is VLSI? Brief on microprocessors and its relevance in digital products?
You are not expected to draw a circuit diagram and explain its operation. Rather you are definitely expected to sound some relevance and acquaintance with the topic.
You may expect a Q on books you read. Prepare a brief on that front. Have a review of books you read, author names, a little brief about. If you say that you don’t have book reading habit, then you may expect an immediate Q: “You have already come out of college long back. And you don’t have a book reading habit. You need to have a lot of reading and case studies in MBA. How can you cope up with a rigorous course curriculum?”
The following list is my answer for the Q on books:
‘Who moved my cheese’, ‘The world is flat’, ‘Business Maharajas’, ‘Rich dad poor dad’, ‘The monk who sold his Ferrari’, ‘Count your chickens before they hatch’, ‘My experiments with truth’.
Prepare well about your work-ex. You are expected to know about your organization, sector, and competitors of your organization etc. You may expect Q’s like: ‘Is your organization listed?’, ‘What are the present prospects of your organization?’, ‘With the similar work-ex which are the other companies you can aim for?’. If you specify ‘Project Management’ in your work-ex, you may expect a brief on PERT & CPM methods. Irrespective of whether you used these techniques, you may be expected at least to expand the terms and a little brief there on.
Being from Telecom sector, I faced with the Q’s like ‘what is mobile VAS?’, ‘what is MVNO?’, ‘Differentiate b/w 2G,3G and 4G technologies?’, ‘Expand CDMA/GSM/GPRS’, ‘Which companies use GSM and which use CDMA technology?’, ‘Tell about spectrum allocation’, ‘What are the changes in Telecom sector after liberalization?’, ‘Out of the following, which holds a key role in the present Telecom scenario: Telecom Service Provider/Mobile Equipment manufacturer/Telecom S/W developer etc?’
You need not be much worried if your acads are on lower side but get prepared for the Q: ‘Why less marks in your graduation?’ or ‘Why are you not consistent in studies?’. You may expect a Q like: ‘why this gap in your academic career/work-ex career?’ in case it’s relevant to you.
Don’t get surprised and be ready for the following Q’s on numbers and names from ‘social awareness’ front:
How many states in India? How many Loksabha & Rajyasabha seats? Name the Chief Ministers of all the border states of your state? Name the state in which the B-School is located? For which your place/state is famous for? Name the cabinet ministers of powerful portfolios (Finance, Commerce, External affairs, Home etc)? How many cabinet ministers? Is there any limit on number of cabinet ministers?
Sometimes your view on national integrity is tested. You may expect a Q like ‘Do you support Naxal’s movement? Why or why not?’. They expect a balanced answer rather than taking an extreme stance.
You can expect the following Q’s from ‘current affairs’ front:
‘If you are to decide, what is your stand on Pakistan?’, ‘What about depreciation of Rupee value?’, ‘Who is the head of RBI or SEBI?’, ’What are the present rates of RBI? (Repo, Reverse repo etc)’, ‘What does SEBI do?’ ‘What about Euro debt crisis?’. It is advised to be in touch with the recent happenings on India and world fronts.
All of a sudden some Q’s like the following may pop up for a surprise:
‘Tell about T20?’, ‘Tell about Apple’s Ipod’ or ‘why Nandan Nilekani is in news?’.
Another frequent Q that needs to be taken care of is: ‘What are your plans if you are not placed after your MBA?’ or ‘Do you understand the risks in taking up the course?’ or ‘If you are selected, will you join after taking sabbatical from your organization?’
‘Your presentation of yourself’ is very important. Your exuberance of confidence counts a lot. Don’t hesitate to showcase your strengths. I collected all my write-ups from my blog on the theme ‘Math in Real life things’ and prepared a document to present it to the interview board. My idea is to show case my analytical skills. This type of preparation boosts your confidence levels. Try to be a little different from conventional methods and I feel that a little crossing of border may not be wrong as long as you have clarity on what you do.
Be positive. Don’t lose hope if you are faced with a Q that you can’t answer. For example, if you are asked to name CM of Orissa state and if you forgot name of the gentleman, then what will you do? You need not bluntly leave it. After you politely say that you don’t remember the name of CM, at least you may tell something that you know about Orissa. You may refer Chilka-lake or the capital city Bhuvaneswar or famous classical dance mode of Orissa -Odissi or the famous Puri-Jagannath temple. After all you are tested on social awareness front and you know something related to that. This type of approach keeps your tempo on top.