Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Interview - Indian School of Business

Sept 2008 - Applied to Indian School of Business ... an emerging business school based in Hyderabad.I was shortlisted for the interview which was set for Nov 8.

Panel: 2 alumni and 1 member from admissions

This is how the interview went:

  • Why do you want to do a MBA?

    I was quite clear about my reasons behind wanting to do a MBA. I had quite a varied work experience working in many different functions within my company. I had acquired many skills and I was looking to develop a holistic view of business. Also, I wanted to fill in the gaps in my skill set. I told them that I was at cross-roads in my career, either continue in my path taking strides and getting promoted every alternate year, or opt for a MBA and make a leap. I preferred the leap. The panel was satisfied with my response.

  • You just have 2.5 years of work experience, dont you think you will benefit from more before you do your MBA?

    I was anticipating this question and I was prepared with a response. I talked about my part time work experience from 12th grade onwards. I had continued to work my way through college and I developed fiscal responsibility, planning etc as a result of the limited income and huge expenses. I stressed on why I consider my work experience to be 5+ years and not just the 2-3 since college. In my opinion, this was the single biggest factor against my candidature and I was glad I could make my case in a convincing manner.

  • What is the ideal company that you would like to work for?

    McKinsey. I got smiles from the panel. I guess it is a common answer.

  • What about that company do you admire?

    I talked about the commitment that McKinsey has for adding maximum value to their customers. I read their reports on a frequent basis and they are always well researched and top notch in all ways. They share these with their clients. I was also impressed by the clientèle that they cater to. I named a few examples which scored me some points with the panel because I demonstrated some depth behind my response. I also told them that I had applied for a position with them last year and I had been rejected. I was in two minds whether I should share that last piece of information, but I took the rejection in my stride and I had no issues sharing it with the panel.

  • You have a better chance of getting into that company if you go for a US MBA. Why do you want to choose ISB?

    This was a tough one to answer. I am also considering US MBAs and I honestly had very little reason to choose ISB over a similar colleges elsewhere. It was the learning that I was after and not really the place. But, I did love working in India so far and I would love to continue here. ISB being the best in India was an easy choice.

  • I see on your application that you have a degree in economics, you must be following the financial crisis closely. In your opinion, what are the 3 biggest causes for the crisis that we see today?

    Ah. I was prepared for questions on the crisis but not directly for this. I asked for a second to gather my thoughts. I responded with failure in credit capability checks of mortgage applicants, failure of rating agencies in detecting the risk early and the Govt. letting Lehman fail. Not the best response, but will do. Obviously the panel was not looking for a Warren Buffet like response, just a response that shows I am in the know of the latest updates.

  • What is Capital Adequacy Ratio? Definition.

    I was not sure of the text book definition. I did not want to blabber on so I admitted the same to the panel. I ventured a guess that turned out to be quite close to the definition.

  • What is your take on Barack Obama?

    I was glad to hear Obama's name. I had followed the elections very closely and I was a proponent of Obama from day 1 of his campaign. I told the same to the panel. It is tough not to be impressed by the way he has overcome all the hurdles in his path (race, lack of pedigree, experience etc) with grace. His positive campaign was a welcome change and he did not stoop to negative campaigning even though his opponents were. I believe his message of change truly resonated with the american voters. Hillary was his toughest competitor and he had the presidency secured the minute he got the democratic nomination. He was successful in labeling McCain as Bush - Term 3 which secured his presidency.

  • If present day Obama had contested against George Bush in 2000, would he have won the vote?

    Good question. I asked the panel if they meant Obama of 2008 or 2000. They made it easy for me by saying 2008 - the current day Obama. Without much thought, I told the panel that I was sure Obama would have won the race. I remember the 2000 campaign and the race was extremely close between the two parties. It basically came down to who is more personable (Bush) and Florida (Bush). Obama is a lot more charming than Al Gore and also in 2008, Obama secured a sizeable majority in Florida - both factors that lead me to believe Obama would triumph. I was proud of this response.

  • How would Obama's campaign have fared in those circumstances?

    Obviously, the message of change would not resonate with the voters of 2000. The economy was great, no major wars, terrorism was yet to rear its ugly head and overall, things were awesome. Obama would have changed his campaign to reflect the times and would have to focus on continuing more of the Clinton policies and implement tighter fiscal responsibility. Satisfied with my response on this.

  • You have mentioned that you have a collection of quotes. What is your favorite?

    My mind went blank. I had mentioned sports, travel etc but they chose the quotes. I stumbled for a minute or two and told them something from "Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance"- Areté implies a respect for the wholeness or oneness of life, and a consequent dislike of specialization. It implies a contempt for efficiency...or rather a much higher idea of efficiency, an efficiency which exists not in one department of life but in life itself.

  • Any quotes from Indian authors?

    Couldnt think of any at that moment. After the interview, I had 100s running through my head.

  • Any telugu quotes?

    Told the panel that I could not read/ write telugu. I regret that and I would like to fix that ASAP. Honestly, I need to work on this! Any willing teachers?

  • Do you have any questions for the panel?

    Asked them a couple. Somehow we ended up discussing about the new ISB campus in Mohali that will be operational in a couple of years.
Overall, I thought I interviewed quite well. I felt quite relaxed and I could confidently allay all of the questions that panel had on the "weaknesses" in my application. I got a lot of help the night before from my parents and that helped me a great deal. It was almost like my mom knew what exactly I was going to be asked. She predicted almost all of the big questions the night before.


Anshuman said...

Great Interview!!
Looks like you have prepared a lot..
Can you share how went preparing for the interview?

Prasant said...

I think if your reasons for going for MBA align with your interests/ goals, you would be well prepared for the interview. I have been following the financial crisis/ Obama campaign right from the get go because they caught and held my attention. There was very little preparation that I had to do for the interview.