Friday, February 23, 2007

Thoughts on ISB

This may appear like an example of sour grapes. By the time I got to know I am not through to ISB, I had almost decided not to join anyways. Despite three other rejection mails, this one does not cease to surprise me.

I was a re-applicant to ISB this year (had applied with my GRE scores last year). Got rejected last time and requested for a feedback. Here’s what they said: ‘You may look at a good GMAT Score, improving communication and interview skills further, if you are planning to re-apply.’.

I felt the basis of rejection was strange: I have a pretty good GRE score and if they want people to take the GMAT, then there was no need to keep the GRE option open at all. Secondly, ‘improving your interview skills’ is a very generic statement. This probably means that the profile is fine, but they did not like the way I presented myself. I later came to know of many other candidates who received the same feedback. It was as if they had used a standard template for people asking for feedback. Or maybe this was a major criterion for selection and they felt that many applicants actually lacked these skills.

I think ISB is a decent option for anyone who is looking to pursue management education in India. However, ISB interviews sessions are very ‘crude’ to say the least. Each interview lasts approx 20-25 minutes. There are 2-3 people in each interview panel. They never ask Why MBA, Why now or Why ISB in their interviews. They seldom ask about your experiences outside of work. Here’s what I was confronted with this time:
What has changed in your candidature over the past one year?
Why job switch?
What business does your grand father do?
If you were to open a soap factory, how much soap will you be able to sell, and what factors will you consider?
Asked me 'How do you do?' in German when they discovered that I knew German.

And here’s what they asked last year:
In what sectors would you recommend FIIs to invest in India?
What do you like doing on weekends?
A question related to the technology I am working on in office. How am I different from other candidates?

While all these are questions that one can expect in an interview, I am not sure how much a short 20 minute discussion with 3/4 questions helps the adcom. In my case it was enough for them to decide that there are 450 better candidates than me. Maybe my answers were not as refined as they should’ve been. Maybe I was not assertive enough. Maybe they felt that I am just another one of those run-of-the-mill IT guys applying for an MBA. Whatever the case, the fact remains that I wasn't able to sell myself well in front of them for two consecutive years now.


The One said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog and your kind words.

Good luck on Duke and Tuck - they are both great schools, and you would have a terrific experience at either of them.

Nat4mba said...

Did you mention during your interview that you applied to business schools in US? Could it be so that they decided that you will get admitted in American schools and reject their offer, and so they decided not to give you one? Probably I am wrong, but I think that some schools are afraid of extanding offers to candidates who may look too good for them. I hope that my opinion does not sound arrogant... I just feel that I completely understand your astonishment with ISB's decision.

For me, requirement of international experience set by LBS, Insead and some other schools sounds a little bit weird. I know that for residents of certain countries applying for a job abroad is as easy as for a local one, but what about people from India or, say, Russia? If I already have had international experience, it would eliminate my main reason Why MBA.

Best of luck with Duke and Tuck, and thank you for your kind words in my blog :)

MBAstarter said...

Thanks Nat, for your comments. No, I hadn't mentioned that I am applying elsewhere. I would like to believe that ISB - if it likes a candidate - would let him/her decide whether or not to join. At max, they would use the waitlist like most univs do to increase their yield.

Ya, the international experience criteria is a bit wierd, but then we cannot blame them if they get applicants having the similar profiles that have the added advantage of having worked in diverse locations. What's surprising is the weightage given to international work-ex by INSEAD and LBS. The feedback I got from INSEAD said that everything else is good, just that I lack international experience!